New PICU RN

  1. Hey all,

    I am a new RN who is working in the PICU. I just wanted to vent about my experiences so far. Is anyone else feeling overwhelmed as a new nurse. There are times when I leave a half hour late due to all of my charting. I feel that I run all night and hardly sit down. When I leave work, I often wonder if I did everything that I was supposed to. I have nightmares that I did something wrong, and I also feel that I will get my license taken away. People that I talk to say that what I am feeling is normal for a new grad. Sometimes I still think that I am nursing school, then I come back to reality and realize that I am the RN. SCARY!!! :chuckle Anyone who would like to share their experiences would be great.

    Thank you.
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  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   whinnymay
    I am feeling pretty much the same, and at the same time, I hate every minute that I am at work. I am really starting to believe that bedside nursing is not for me.
  4. by   obnurse2004
    whinnymay,

    what kind of area do you work in? I am wondering if going to Peds ICU right off the bat is such a good idea.
  5. by   suzanne4
    No matter which unit that you are assigned to, whether Med-Surg, PICU, OR, ER, etc. is going to seem overwhelming at first. While in school, your instructor was always right there, but now you are the one that has has to make the decision. I promise that it will get easier. You will learn to make better use of your time and prioritize more, but it is going to take some time..
    Nothing happens over night.....................this is one of the reasons that I don't like accelerated programs..............it is quite a new change for all of you that went through a minimum of a two year program to have everything "dumped" on you in just one year and expect you to fully function.
    I would never consider doing that......

    Just give it some time, and your learning curve will balance out for you. In the beginning there are so many new things to learn and now you are seeing that you are actually getting more "on the job" training than you ever thought you would see again........................you will always be learning, I don't have a day now where I don't learn something new everyday.........the best thing is knowing what to do with the new information and how to use it to help you.

    Good luck to all of you..................
  6. by   canoehead
    I also tried the PICU and had nightmares, so stressed I couldn't think, crying with any problems after awhile. I had to stop for my own sanity, and then found my dream job. I worked so hard for that PICU job to work but it was way beyond me. Looking back, the changing moment was when I put a stethoscope on a baby's chest and he had a run of PVC's, he was so fragile. Hat's off to everyone who does PICU, the nurses I worked with were amazing.
  7. by   JuicyJem
    Hey Whinny I am so with you on hating being at work. Ive been an RN for 2.5 months in Peds. Glad to know Im not alone.
  8. by   whinnymay
    Ob nurse I work on a telemetry floor. It is not the patients that are bad. It is the Co-workers. The workload is unbearable. I am trying to get in enough experience, so that I can go into homehealth. I had a horrible prececptor, and the humilation that I suffered, isn't worth me staying at this hospital. Then what makes me so mad is the fact that they always cry about how short staffed they are. If they would treat new nurses as if they are human, then perhaps new nurses would want to work in the hospitals. I just can't imagine staying on the floor that I am on.
  9. by   KimRN03
    I am also feeling the same way you guys are! I am off orientation in two days and feel physically ill! I don't know if I can do this! My preceptor and NM both constantly compliment me, but I feel I don't know anything. I HATE calling docs and taking orders. When they ask me what I want, I just cringe! How am I supposed to know what I think they should order? They went to Med school, not me! I could ask for more orientation time, but really what would that help? :uhoh21: I have just resigned myself to feeling like I won't know what I am doing for a good three months, even on routine patients. I am terrified of performing new skills without supervision. Even when I look up a drug in my PDA before giving it, I still feel the entire time I am pushing the drug, are they still breathing? I just freak. It is sooo scary not having anyone watch over your every move. Nursing school does not prepare you to be autonomous. Feel very helpless at this point too!
  10. by   suzanne4
    Kim,
    Remember that you are just BEGINNING your learning curve. You had probably a two month rotation through basic pediatrics while you were in school. You only touched on the subject back then. It sounds like you are lucky in getting a good preceptor and have a good NM to help you along. You are quire nervous now and that is understandable. I am sure that they are not going to give you the "hardest" patient on the unit as soon as you finish your orientation.
    When you are calling a physician for an order, you are the one that has been with that patient and usually knows what they need. The residents are also learning.....please keep that in mind. I have always preferred that the physician ask for my opinion. You will begin to feel more comfortable with that experience also, just give it some time.

    Good luck..................you may find that PICU isn't for you along the way, but you will still be caring for patients and calling physicians for orders, no matter where you are working........................

    Hope that this helps.
  11. by   Gompers
    You guys, you are COMPLETELY normal! I jumped right into NICU after school, so I understand how you feel. Really, everyone feels that way after starting as an RN. If you're on the floor, you are overwhelmed by the workload and if you're in the ICU it's the acuity that gets you. Honestly, nursing school doesn't really prepare you for working as much as it should. If you go to the floors as a new grad, your patient load is way higher so of course then you'll feel crazed. And if you go into ICU, probably you didn't get much experience in that area in school (esp. PICU and NICU) so it's crazy there as well. It will really take you a year to feel more comfortable, and maybe 2-3 before you really feel confident.

    I've been working for over 5 years on the same unit, and I STILL have nightmeres that I forgot about a patient for a whole shift and stuff like that. It's just part of being a nurse and having such awesome responsibility. Give it some time, maybe a year, and if you STILL don't feel comfortable, maybe it's time to try another unit. But don't get too down on yourself after just a few weeks or months - it takes time. There's a lot to learn, especially in ICU. In a year or so, when that doc asks you what YOU want him to order, instead of feeling frustrated, you'll feel great because you realize that the doc trusts your nursing judgement and wants your input in the plan of care.

    Good luck!
  12. by   obnurse2004
    I just wanted to thank everyone for responding to my post.. It makes me feel good to know that other people are going through what I am going through. I wish that nursing school somehow prepared us for the real world--but honestly, I don't think anything could. I have worked in a hospital setting for 5 years while I was in college/nursing school. My biggest problem is getting out of the Student role and being the RN. I am getting used to signing RN behind my name!! Since I work in the PICU, I often hear alarms going off when I am at home. By the way, does anyone often leave work late and rarely sit down. I usually leave work about 30 min late and the only time I sit is to go to the bathroom and when I grab my food for dinner.

    Thanks for listening
  13. by   UK2USA
    I can truly appreciate the comments that have been made here. I have been a PICU nurse in the UK for 4 years - rising from the depths of terror to holding a senior post. I would like to reinforce that these horrible times will pass as time and experience develops. I know that this does not help anyone in this position right now, so here is a practical approach that I adopted to helpme through those harrowing times.
    1) At the start of my shift I examine my patients and check my emergency equipment.
    2) Take a bedside handover from the previous nurse.
    3) Take a sheet of paper and note the times of any drugs due, procedures etc. (remember to add anything that has not been done from the shift before).
    4) Plan myday using this list as a time management tool.

    Whatever the task is add it to the list, whether it is small or large. Include tasks that other nurses have asked you to help with.

    It is suprising how useful this can be.

    One other piece of advice: You only have one pair of hands - your patients are receiving 24 hour care, so it is perfectly reasonable to hand over some tasks to the next shift. If you have made a task list as I have suggested you will not forget which tasks are not done.

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