Am I doing the right thing? New nurse getting butt kicked - page 5

by j_tay1981 12,852 Views | 58 Comments

I am a new male RN, BSN. I graduated in August of '12 and started at my job on a neurology/med-surg unit. I never really wanted to do med-surg, but many nurses told me that it is a great place to start because you can hone your... Read More


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    I have been nursing 7 yrs. in med surg i have found that you take report, brush up on meds (which will tell you a lot about the pt's history), labs, then go see pt's. HaVING a good report sheet to right on is essential and sticky notes for reminders are good also. Just keep on hanging on
    multi10 likes this.
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    I was dropped into ER after I had oriented to med/surg in a small hospital. Our ER had a house RN, and two LPN's plus a doctor. Talk about GI issues....I truly did not know what the heck was going on. My coworker had been there two weeks. My first patient that night was a young man who had severed his brachial artery. I placed a blood pressure cuff on that arm, pumped it up till the bleeding stopped. Talk about a blood loss! The doctor came in to take a look, and said he wanted the blood pressure cuff deflated for so many minutes, etc. As he was walking out of the room I said if you want that done, do it yourself. This really shocked the other nurse. And me too, as I do not speak up much at all. The doctor deflated the cuff, blood resumed spurting, and he could not get it inflated again fast enough. Did I plan to do any of this, no. It just was instinct. This young man did make it to the big city hospital 2 hrs away, and had a vascular surgeon do the repair. He did not lose his arm. Even though I enjoyed mentally working the ER, Just thinking about working made me sick. Headache, stomach, bowels. I would not exchange that experience for anything. When I moved out of state, I applied for an ER job. First question asked of me was "where was my certification". It was on the job training for sure. No guidence by anyone. This small hospital had trained all of their OR staff and the like. Just nurses and doctors had licenses.
    The last hospital I worked in had computers in every patient room, so you could chart the assessment while in there. Also meds were scanned and armbands scanned. I would say I got spoiled with all of the nice time savers we had. Some nurses still overcharted. We were to chart by exception. If what was covered in the nurse assessment form fit what you saw, you just clicked on it. Only abnormal stuff was charted extra. The electronic form gave guidence through all of this. I feel that you will do fine once you step back and chill a bit. It is all overwhelming. School does not give you the experience you need. I worked for agencys for a few years. That experience proved to me that I could be orginazed and get my job done. My reward for this was that the hospitals would ask for me to be put on assignment there. They knew my work. Good Luck
    multi10 likes this.
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    After a year and a half on the floor I transferred to surgical ICU, which had been my goal. I thought that I knew nursing. Ha! I didn't know half of what I needed to. Some of the staff hated me, but there were always one or two colleagues who understood, and were willing to help. They got me through.

    However, I still had a problem. I showed up every night scared. I would take report, go to my patients and assess them. And brother, were they in bad shape. Many where near death. I got more scared. I thought, "Good grief! This patient needs a GOOD nurse, not me!" I soldered on, but in a constant state of fear.

    One night, something strange happened. My shift started as described above, with me scared, as always, when out of nowhere, this thought came into my head: "County, it is true that you are not the best nurse, you probably never will be, but you can be the best Nurse CountyRat in the world. Focus on doing that, and that will be enough."

    I know it sounds crazy, but after that, I was calmer, and, I think, a much better nurse. I don't know why, I just was. I never felt casual or carefree at work (nor do I think that I should have), but I became a better nurse.

    Do what you need to do to feel O.K. with your job, but please, don’t give up on nursing.
    VegetasGRL03RN and multi10 like this.
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    [QUOTE=Ntheboat2;7103165]
    Quote from j_tay1981

    Translated to mean: "We had to start out in med/surg and be completely miserable and so should you!!!

    .

    Mission accomplished!!

    I debated whether or not I should start out in med/surg because I felt that pressure from other nurses, but I decided to go to work where I wanted to work instead. I LOVE my job and I feel lucky every time I read a post like yours. When nursing students ask you if they should start out in med/surg....tell them NO!

    "No" is not the right answer. You should never tell someone what they should do. Instead, provide guidance on how to make the correct decision for himself. Med/surg is not the wrong decision for everyone, just like LTC is not the wrong decision for everyone. As for the OP specifically, he stated that he didn't know where he wanted to work, so med/surg was as good a place for him to start as any.


    OP...I've been an RN for almost 6 years; the last 3.5 spent in the ED. Even though I'd been a nurse for a couple of years already, it took me a full year in the ED to start to feel like I knew what I was doing and to feel comfortable with my time management.

    In July of last year, I transferred to a different hospital, still in the ED. I expected to need some time to get used to a different system, but I didn't expect it to be so hard or take so long. It's been 6 months now and I'm starting to feel like I have things under control...most of the time anyway.

    All that is to say that you need to give yourself at least a year to feel like things are really falling into place. Maybe it will happen sooner, but don't feel like it should.

    Since you don't really know what your "end game" is right now, give yourself that year to decide if you want to try some other area of nursing. Right now you can't know if med/surg is for you or not because you don't have enough experience. If you let your frustration cause you to give up on it now, you will just end up job-hopping because you will experience some of that same frustration initially in any unit you go to until you realize that it is normal and part of the process you must go through.
    VegetasGRL03RN and multi10 like this.
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    Quote from CountyRat
    After a year and a half on the floor I transferred to surgical ICU, which had been my goal. I thought that I knew nursing. Ha! I didn't know half of what I needed to. Some of the staff hated me, but there were always one or two colleagues who understood, and were willing to help. They got me through.

    However, I still had a problem. I showed up every night scared. I would take report, go to my patients and assess them. And brother, were they in bad shape. Many where near death. I got more scared. I thought, "Good grief! This patient needs a GOOD nurse, not me!" I soldered on, but in a constant state of fear.

    One night, something strange happened. My shift started as described above, with me scared, as always, when out of nowhere, this thought came into my head: "County, it is true that you are not the best nurse, you probably never will be, but you can be the best Nurse CountyRat in the world. Focus on doing that, and that will be enough."

    I know it sounds crazy, but after that, I was calmer, and, I think, a much better nurse. I don't know why, I just was. I never felt casual or carefree at work (nor do I think that I should have), but I became a better nurse.

    Do what you need to do to feel O.K. with your job, but please, don’t give up on nursing.
    I really appreciate you sharing this. Sometimes, I think I'm setting unrealistic standards on myself that sort of set me up to fail (or at least make my life more difficult on the floor than need be). I want to know everything RIGHT NOW do that I no longer am the rookie, but logically I know I nor anybody else will likely know everything there is to know in this field. And I should likely work on not comparing myself to others do much and focus on my own personal development.

    Thanks, County!
    CountyRat and multi10 like this.
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    GM2RN:

    Thanks for this. I had wondered if a profound learning curve would apply to each area of nursing like it has to my initial job. I agree that telling a person they should not start in a particular area is counterproductive. That may be the field they would have excelled in!
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    Quote from j_tay1981
    GM2RN:

    I had wondered if a profound learning curve would apply to each area of nursing like it has to my initial job.
    Starting out as a practicing nurse involves a HUGE learning curve, and, while 1 year seems like a long time, it is often barely enough time to get off the runway. And, while the learning curve does get flatter with experience, it will challenge you throughout your career.

    But that is true of any work that is important. Becoming a nurse is very hard, but that is the price that we decided to pay because we wanted to do work that mattered, work that gave us a chance to do more, and be more, than we had been before. The same is true for any profession that is important to others. If nursing was only a skilled trade, it would be easier, but that is not the path that we chose. It is hard to be a nurse, harder to be a good one. The day that you think that you have mastered nursing is the day you need to start thinking about a career change.
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    Quote from HM-8404
    You stated you took a job in a unit you had little or no interest in. For me personally that would be a major stressor on the job. I have no interest in L&D and a great interest in ICU or ED. I feel I would be much more successful in a unit I desire to work in rather than one I know from the start I have little interest in.
    While I agree with HM on this, the reality is that as new graduates we can no longer be picky where we want to work as is is challenging to get that first job. I personally do not want to work Med-Surge, but I have yet to find a job since passing my board in August, and at this point after submitting so many applications I will consider any unit to get my foot in the door.

    I found the brainsheets after reading another post, and I have since saved them to see which one will work best for me.

    I too worry about time management, I always had an issue with that, and of being too hard on myself when making mistakes.

    To the OP, hang in there, the consensus is that it gets better after a year.
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    New grad here. No major words of wisdom, just commiseration. I graduated in May '12 and started working in July '12 on a step down unit in a small community hospital. I cry often. I obsess about whether I am doing a good job or whether I suck and everyone is afraid to tell me that I have picked the wrong field. I wake up in the middle of the night and think about my patients. I obsess about whether I have failed them in some way. I often feel like I am masquerading as a real nurse, that somehow I will be "found out" that I really don't know what the hell I am doing. People assure me I am doing fine and that the first year is like this, but I can't help but stress out constantly about everything. I am very encouraged by the many responders who said something "clicked" for them. I personally cannot wait for this "click." This job is definitely not for the faint of heart, that is for sure.
    CherryLight, multi10, and Esme12 like this.
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    There is one last thing that I wanted to bring up regarding this topic: I get nervous as all get out prior to and during a shift. I used to think I hid it well, but I must inadvertently show it because others have commented on it to me. Before my shift, I sort of dream about being called off. During my shift, I'm always on edge. I'm waiting for something bad to happen with a patient, out I'm waiting to see if the lead will give me an add on or transfer patient (which might throw off my night). I know that both of these are possibilities in this job, but I would like to stop anticipating it with fear. I do have an anxiety disorder that I'm being treated for (oddly, just about every nurse I work with has one too) but it's all too no avail. Will these sensations of being on edge dissipate with time as well? When I started as a care tech two years ago,I was on edge but it got much better with time. I'm hoping working as an RN will be the same way (sooner rather than later, preferably).


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