How long does the "new nurse anxiety" usually last?

  1. Hey all! I know there is a section on this forum about disabilities but I don't think this relates to clinical anxiety/depression.

    As a new nurse (2 months without preceptor) I basically have, to a degree, an anxiety attack before work (new grad in the ED). Once I'm actually on the floor it feels like the anxiety is gone, but it's back after I'm off for a few days. I just want to be able to work without feeling like this and be able to enjoy and look forward to going to work.

    I've discussed this with others and they say this is normal, but how long did it take YOU to feel more comfortable or less stressed as a new nurse?
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    About ASM90

    Joined: Aug '09; Posts: 5; Likes: 1


  3. by   algebra_demystified
    Two years.
  4. by   anotherone
    5 months. but after 2 years, sometimes it comes back. a huge feeling of dread and anxiety day before a shift or so . and at work too. it went away for a while but is comming back. i have had nurses of 20years tell me it never went away! and one told me it went away after she "started taking pills"!!!
  5. by   RNperdiem
    Anxiety might never completely go away. This is not always a bad thing in low doses; but with a couple of years of experience you barely notice it.
    Like many a chronic condition, anxiety can flare up after a return to nursing after taking time off, when starting in a new job or new area or after an event that kicks backside and shreds your confidence.
  6. by   KelRN215
    I remember being told when I was a new grad that it takes an average of 18 months to feel fully comfortable/competent. I reached that point just about 18 months into my career when one of my patients was trying to die on me on a night shift and the resident wasn't all that concerned...
  7. by   LeggyNurse
    I've been nursing 6 months and I don't have any anxiety. I stopped having anxiety my 2nd to last semester of clinical in nursing school and was surprised that it never came back. I just take it one day at a time and take every day as a new learning experience. But, no anxiety. Maybe dread sometimes just because I don't feel like going into work that night :-)
  8. by   klone
    It took about 3-4 months working without a preceptor before I stopped having knots in my stomach before every shift.
  9. by   beeker
    Took me about 6 months for it to get BETTER, it has not yet gone totally away. Now it only happens sometimes, not all the time. I am at my one year mark this week.
  10. by   dudette10
    Anxiety on nights as a new grad took about 10 months. Anxiety resurfaced when I took a days float position, and it lessened greatly at about 3 months after rethinking my time management strategies.
  11. by   PediatricRNTX
    I'm at a year....I ended up switching jobs. Praying for a better experience. Good Luck. I know the feeling!!
  12. by   stablesystole
    I think it took me about 6 months but it helped that I took a job at the same facility and specialty that I had participated in as a tech and similar.
    I think part of what helps with newbie anxiety (or at least it did for me) is having your first major crash or disaster. Once its over and done with and you have survived (and hopefully the patient too) you know that you can handle what gets thrown at you. IMO it's a classic case of the waiting and worrying being worse than the actual event.
    I went over a year before I had my first death, and then I had 2 on back to back nights (one expected end of life, the other a bad code). After that I walked away confident because I knew that I'd been there, done that and had proven myself up to the challenge.
  13. by   nurseprnRN
    I just posted this on another thread,but in case you missed it....

    "Some of you have heard me tell this story before. I was several years out of school and had been staff in this fabulous ICU for three, and I was actually pretty good at it. One day I was in the break room with Sarah, a nurse of more than a decade's experience in the unit, one who could take every kind of patient that rolled up the hall, who was never flustered, always expert, always willing to teach and explain. I asked her when I would stop feeling scared when I sat in report. She smiled and said that every day before report started she felt a pang of anxiety, but that it passed when she started working. She said that when that little stab of fear went away she would have to go somewhere else, because it's what keeps us awake and sharp. I never, ever forgot that (and here I am telling that story again, smumble-mumble years later), and I am happy to pass it along to you."

    It will get better. All of a sudden you will notice that you weren't the least bit nervous today. In another week or three you will realize you haven't been nervous all week. Then you'll get to the place where you forget all about being nervous unless you have a new and challenging patient condition to learn. Then, back to being chilled...Lather, rinse, repeat.
  14. by   ASM90
    Thank you for the replies, everyone. I know this is a normal feeling but it's nice to hear it again. Sounds like I still some months of this to go before it settles. As someone mentioned, it's true that after every critical patient I have, I feel more confident but still scares the crap out of me haha.