I am a new grad nurse going into my fourth month in the ICU. So far, I'm grateful to have made it this far and I get along with my coworkers, patients, physicians, and other staff workers. I just have a few worries.
For as long as I have been working with her, my preceptor has been brushing me off. I am the first person that she has ever precepted with and I understand that it might be overwhelming for her to deal with both me and the patients. However, I'm at the point now where I'm taking on 2 critically-ill patients at one time yet having to run to her for everything and when she makes herself scarce, I end up running around looking for anybody else to help me. My preceptor picks up the things that I forget to do or overlook, often without telling me. I don't feel comfortable with this because I'm going to need to know how to organize my time and all of the "little details" that I might overlook, such as reporting critical lab values to the physician, etc. (And yes, I know critical values are a big deal but when you're new and trying to pack everything into your brain along with take care of sick people, you forget sometimes). Several nurses have commented that they don't think that my preceptor is doing a good job with me and it's to the point now where I'm thinking of switching preceptors...is this a bad idea now? Am I too far along?
I've asked the nurse educator for honest feedback about my progress. I asked her if she, my preceptor, and I could meet to discuss my strengths, weaknesses, and issues that I could "work" on. That was weeks ago. I keep asking but no one will meet with me. The only thing that they told me is that "if they had a problem with me, I'd know already." The thing is, I don't want to let it get to the point where I make a serious error and then get reprimanded/fired. I feel that I have the right to receive feedback but it's been over two months since anybody sat down with me and told me their observations of me and how I might best improve as a nurse. Am I expecting too much?
My head nurse just quit her job yesterday because it was too stressful for her so for the time being, we are being managed by another unit. I had planned on meeting with her to discuss my concerns after she returned from her extended leave, but she then quit and moved on. I don't know who else to go to.
I am also worried because my unit is incredibly short-staffed and the nurses, even new nurses, frequently pick up 3 very sick patients on vents/cardiac drips/neuro checks, etc. at a time. One girl, a new grad nurse who started two months before I did, was given 3 patients on her first night shift by herself just last night. Another new nurse that I took report from yesterday was mentioning quitting her job because she kept getting 3 patients and she felt that she was giving them awful care night after night.
Our head shift supervisor worked as an ICU nurse back in the 1960's when patient's weren't so acutely ill and one of my coworkers once told me that he felt that if "he could work with 3 patients, so could we." I even know one nurse who worked with 4 ICU patients. I'm not trying to put down my unit but I really don't think that it's fair, especially since many of our nurses get floated out to work at the "favorite" unit upstairs, which brings in the most money to the hospital with its surgical patients and open-heart patients.
I am very, very afraid of what is ahead of me in this unit. I don't feel that I'm getting the training to give good care to two patients, let alone three or four. I don't want to quit because it took me six months to get this job, but I am very afraid that I won't have adequate training from my preceptor in order to "swim" instead of "sink." Has anyone else ever been in this position and if so, what did you do?
Thanks so much for any advice you can give me!!
-Stressed out New Grad