imposter???

  1. Ok, I am about to make myself pretty vulnerable here by admitting something to you all. Being a new nurse for only 5 months or so, I know I am still "green".

    I do feel pretty good about alot of my job aspects, but I really became aware that I am still not confident about alot of situations that can come about.

    You read about stuff, learn everything you can in school, you know a disease process, meds for that process, etc. etc., but when it comes to real life situations, I feel like I am a deer in headlights sometimes.

    Not to go into detail for HIPPA reasons, I just had a situation that I was like "Oh my gosh, what do I do?" I did what I knew, but then was like "am I ready for these kinds of situations?" I feel like a total imposter, I am a nurse, shouldn't I know what to do????? Everything ended up ok, I did ok, called the appropriate ancillary depts, doc, etc. But, after that, I am thinking, will I be able to function in that situation or in other situations appropriately.

    I feel so stupid admitting this.

    Please tell me I am not the only one who has or does feel this way. I know I will learn as I go, but being on my own as a new grad, I still feel scared.

    I pray every day before work that God will only give me what I can handle. I pray he keeps all patients in my care safe and that he will guide me. I know he will, but it still scares me.
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  2. 14 Comments

  3. by   cardiacRN2006
    Quote from RNLisa

    Please tell me I am not the only one who has or does feel this way. I know I will learn as I go, but being on my own as a new grad, I still feel scared.

    Uhhhh, no. You're not the only one who feels that way! It's only been 5 months! You're still learning...


    There have been many, many situations where I am in the room, looking cool as a cucumber, and I am saying to myself, "OK, what do I do now???"

    You do what you can do. Then when it's all over, ask your fellow co-workers for feedback.

    A few months ago, I had a pt transfer from the ER. He had a pressure of 73, which quickly went into the 60's. He was on one pressor, and I was asking for another. The dr was out in the unit, and I called her over, and asked her to give me some orders. She said, have you started a bolus yet?


    I didn't know that I could just do that on my own! When the situation was done, I asked several of my co-workers how I did, and what should I have done better. They all had advice for me, which is nice.


    So, you just have to encounter the new situations, and deal with them, and then learn from them. We can't really know what to do if we've never don't it before!


    Be gentle with yourself! Nursing is hard, that's for sure. If it wasn't then anybody could do it...
  4. by   RNLisa
    The biggest thing is, our hospital is small, and there isn't a doctor there all the time, he comes in at different times of the day, he is the hospitalist; at any rate, the other nurses (there are usually just 3 of us), are all busy with their patients and we are spread out. It seems like the majority of our patients are very ill, elderly patients. They all seem to have respiratory problems, diabetes, or CHF. When they go bad, they go bad fast. I just have been feeling like I am alone. The other nurses are nice and are helpful when they have time to help me.

    I haven't been certified ACLS yet, or telemetry; that is to come yet this year (budget reasons), so I don't feel confident enough to know when to call for help before it gets to a code situation. That's scary, I know. If it's a respiratory situation, I call an RT to assist and they are good at coming. We don't have a "rapid response" team, I wish we did, but I am afraid that I would call them when I don't really need them just because I am scared or don't know what to do.

    Right now you are wanting me to be your nurse, right??? LOL
  5. by   fultzymom
    I think that all of us feel that way. Just when you think you are getting the hang of things, something comes up et you are like, "What NOW?" And I have been a nurse for 4 1/2 years. It is scarry to think that if you do the wrong thing it have serious consequences. Hang in there et it will get better. Remember if you are not sure to ask someone. At first I expected that I should know after nursing school. But reading about something et doing it is totally different. I decided that I would rather feel stupid and ask that do something to mess up.
  6. by   cardiacRN2006
    A time will come when you start to believe in yourself, and rely on your judgement.

    We have the same thing. Small unit with a hospitalist. Comes to us in the am and then goes upstairs all day.

    As long as you take something from each situation like you are describing, and learn from it, you will be fine.

    It just takes time.
  7. by   NotReady4PrimeTime
    I've been doing what I do for close to ten years and there are days when I totally feel like an imposter. Practice and experience will help, but it will never make that feeling truly go away, I don't think. There's no way any of us can experience every single thing that can happen to a nurse-patient pair, life's just not that long! You do the very best you can and you count on those around you for help.


    Quote from RNLisa
    I haven't been certified ACLS yet, or telemetry; that is to come yet this year (budget reasons), so I don't feel confident enough to know when to call for help before it gets to a code situation. That's scary, I know. If it's a respiratory situation, I call an RT to assist and they are good at coming. We don't have a "rapid response" team, I wish we did, but I am afraid that I would call them when I don't really need them just because I am scared or don't know what to do.
    Better to call in the cavalry and not need them than to find yourself alone with a patient in full arrest. Yeah, they might grumble about "alarmists", nervous nellies" and stuff but let "'m! Then pick their brains... "What would you have done in this situation, so I'll know for next time?" Works for me!
  8. by   cpgmich
    Thank you all for allowing me a sigh of relief! :icon_hug: I too have been an RN for only 6 months and some days are so totally scary that I too have felt like an imposter. Some of the other nurses I work with have forgotten what it was like being a new RN.
    I have renewed strength now! Thanks!
  9. by   NJNursing
    Everyone had great advice. I just passed my 6th month and sometimes I'm totally confident that I gave the best care possible and then there are some frazzled days where a million things go wrong and the prioritizing comes into necessity of what is most critical to do first or where I'm not even starting my charting until about 5 because I've got a couple of needy patients who take me away from the rest plus my own duties. I can say, however, that I know much more now than I did 6 weeks ago, than I did 3 months ago than I did 6 months ago. I know that the nurses I always go to advice with have been there for years and years and are great pillars of support and knowlege and most are very willing to help someone out and I'm certainly not afraid to go to them and use them if need be.

    Good luck!
  10. by   blueiwahine
    I feel like an imposter every day...I feel like I really didn't learn anything from school...in my last 8 months I have learned so much from the nurses, that I could ever learn in school...I too, pray everyday on my way to work to God to help me be compassionate, caring and to please not let me harm any of my pts...
  11. by   scrubsnhugsRN
    I too have been learning soo much from my more experienced nurses and I think they are appreciative when I ask, they know that when I am unsure I will consult them...bottomline I learn something every single day!!
  12. by   Daytonite
    RNLisa. . .I think that if you were working in a much larger facility you would find colleagues who would be able to tell you what many of the other posters are saying. What you are experiencing is normal for any new nurse. It takes a couple of years of "ripening" before you begin to really feel confident in what you are doing. Sometimes nursing programs don't make it clear, or the students don't remember being told, that their first years in nursing are still years of learning. The difference is that they are learning without their nursing instructors. You have to be your own nursing instructor, look for mentors, re-read sections of your textbooks and notes from school periodically and add a few more supplemental books to your reference shelf at home. When you have situations arise where you come away shaking your head thinking your performance might have been less than OK I want you to know that this happens to all nurses. It is particularly prone to happen to new graduates. It is because what is written in the textbooks is different from what goes on when you are in the "moment" and experiencing the real thing. This is one reason why state boards require clinical time along with nursing theory. However, there is no way that the clinical time you spend while you are in school can give you every single experience you need to carry you through a professional career. What it can do is give you the wisdom to know how to handle yourself when these situations come up. When something like this occurs, you do the best you can, go home and hit your books. You re-educate yourself to the situation and make a plan in your mind on how to handle it when it happens again. Think about the times you've handled a code blue. For many new grads working on a medical or surgical unit a code blue is often their "moment of truth". They often come away from their first one just beating themselves up because they forgot to do this or that. I know. I remember my first code blue. Much later in my career, I was a nursing supervisor who was the shoulder that many of these new grads poured their hearts out on afterwards. I told them the same thing I'm telling you now. You go home and do some self-analysis of your performance, read up and make a plan on how to do it better next time. This is the proactive thing to do. This is what will make you accomplished and experienced over time.

    So, do some homework on the situation that you just went through so you will be ready for it next time. Become a kind of mini-expert on it. Remember how you are feeling from this and pass on these kindnesses and wisdom that you have been given on this thread to other new grads that you will undoubtedly run into over the years. That's what being a nursing mentor and colleague is all about. As my dad used to say when I fell off my bike, "You'll never learn how to ride if you don't get back on and keep working at it." You will learn just as much from your mistakes and failures as you will from any triumphs. The difference is in the amount of emotional hurt you experience. That, however, is what life is all about.
  13. by   nurse_drumm
    Hiya RNLisa!!

    Okay, I've been a nurse for just about 4 years now, and here's what I've learned. Nursing school teaches you the BASICS. The REAL training comes once you hit the floor, and can experience everything first hand, and/or for the first time. I guess why they say "it will come to you in time." Every day, I learn something new, and ask myself, "why didn't we learn that in nursing school???"

    For me, I've learned to follow my gut... it hasn't lead me astray yet. Nurses have a sixth sense about them, now all you need to do is learn to trust your judgement, and understand that what we do is continually learn, and put forth what we've learned into the care of our next patient. Remember, nursing school was the basics. Now, it's up to you to become a sponge; watch, listen, and learn from the things that go on around you, and every day, the lightbulb will pop above your head, and you'll find yourself saying, "OH YEAH!"
  14. by   RNLisa
    Daytonite and nurse drumm, thanks for your posts, they are inspiring and helpful!
    Everyone else that has posted, thank you as well.
    I think as I complete my telemetry, pals and acls, I will begin to feel even more confident. I take all three classes this year sometime as budget allows.
    I am trying to have a positive attitude. You all here are very helpful! Thanks so much.

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