Help/Advice for Performance Anxiety

  1. I am having a terrible time with performance anxiety at both school during clinical skills testing and at the clinical site with my instructor. Problem is, I know how to do the skills, but when it comes to doing them in front of someone or having to "test off" on the skills, I freeze and become a babbling idiot and my mind shuts down.

    I do not know how to improve this. Does anyone else struggle with this and if so what advice do you have? I am terrified that they (the clinical instructors) are going to get rid of me thinking I will never have any confidence. I am doing well in my classes and pass my clinical testing the second time but I need to know how to control my fear especially in front of a patient!

    I really do feel totally incompetent. How do I believe in myself more?
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  2. 10 Comments

  3. by   AuntieRN
    Time will help you become more confident. Time and practice. Your instructors know you are scared, nervous and unsure of yourself right now. You are a student. Just try to relax and remember to breath. In nursing you will always be performing your skills in front of someone. Eventually it should become second nature and you will not even think about it. Good luck to you!!
  4. by   Cnadnchic
    Hi there, you are not alone! I feel like I am in jeopardy of failing my last clinical rotation because I freeze in front of my instructor and just completely draw a blank. She has a tendency to throw up her hands and look at me in disgust so this just adds to my anxiety and she acts irritated when i ask her questions. I know how scary it can be and the butterflies and sick to your stomach. I'm not sure what to say to make you feel better because I am feeling the exact same way.
  5. by   JentheRN05
    I've said it before - and I'm saying it again.

    Try meditation. It got me through 2 years of nursing school. When it quit working I saw the doctor about meds.

    If you practice meditation often enough, it will come as second nature on a moments notice to relax (often by breathing - color focus).

    I would do this again easily. Just my .02.
  6. by   AfloydRN
    I agree w/ previous post. Meds can help alot. If they are able to reduce your anxiety you will be able to concentrate on task @ hand. I had this when I started out a long time ago. Practice and confidence will help. Find a good mentor too!
  7. by   dex77
    I also seem to have issues with anxiety related to clinicals entirely. The whole time i'm at my clinical site I have butterflies so badly that I feel nauseous. I'm getting a B in the class so far and i'm in the middle of the pack as far as clinicals go, not the worst but certainly not the best. My CI is not too bad, I can understand his frustration w/ me (I've gotten upset and cried in post-conf whenever he's had to tell me what i'm doing wrong). I feel completely incompetent. I can reason out well enough that i'm in the 1st semester and have NEVER done this stuff before. I don't think I SHOULD feel bad for not having all the answers. I am doing the best I know how. I think that it's related to confidence and experience (of which I have neither right now) and I think it will go away in time. However, I was wondering if anyone has taken meds for this while in school and has it helped?
  8. by   augigi
    Try practising your skills on any warm body you can find - family, friends etc. Once you have them down, it won't matter if there are hundreds of people watching you. It's like anything else, you have to do it in order to feel comfortable. Don't worry, we all had those moments! And don't forget, you're expected to be a beginner, and you're not meant to know everything - you are there to learn.
  9. by   JentheRN05
    As I said in my other post. Try relaxation techniques before you get into the meds. I ended up on anxiety meds my last 2 years of school. But before that relaxation techniques did the trick
  10. by   EmerNurse
    I was fortunate enough, during nsg school, to work for a hospital as a secretary and was friends with the IV therapy nurse. She'd give me a couple of primary line sets and a bag of expired NS, and I'd go home and practice over and over and over.

    LOL I remember the shoebox with a small hole in it to practice the technique for foleys - I took so much razzing from my dh LOL.

    I was always nervous with new stuff like that but if I had time to play with the equipment beforehand without worrying about getting something unsterile or whatever, I always did better.

    Yes that's what skills lab is for, but I worked fulltime during school and my school campus was nearly an hour away. I created my own skills lab at home with a few items from the hospital and whatever I could put together from household stuff.

    Get creative - the more comfortable with the stuff you are, the more you play with it, the less nervous you'll be. Xanax don't hurt either <grin>.
  11. by   BrnEyedGirl
    Hang in there,it does get easier w/time,..don't know if this will help or not,..I am an RN on a tele/stepdown unit,.I've been there a little over 10 yrs,.have seen LOTS of new grads come et go,..about 2 yrs ago we had an aide who was in her last semester of RN school,..great aide,...she graduated,...failed her NCLEX,...smart girl,..knew she had test anxiety,..to make a long story short,..it took her 5 tries and almost 2 yrs to pass,...I will admit that several of us had some reservations when we were told she had been hired to work in our unit,...she is a brave soul and really wants to be a nurse,..she is a great nurse,..one of the better new grads I've ever worked with! Hang in there,..remember you are not expected to know everything,.and even when you start working, you are never alone,.you always have resources,.other nurses, pharmacy, books, etc BTW one thing that seems to work well for alot of us is "thinking outloud" talk to yourself, somtimes just hearing your thoughts helps! (ignore the stares) Good luck to you!
  12. by   Cardigan2
    I think it is a great idea that you practiced at home. Do you have any other practice examples that you'd like to share?
    I'm going to be starting a nursing program in January and I'm very nervous thinking about the clinical part of it all.
    I do have some left over syringes and gowns from taking care of a sick relative and maybe other supplies as well.
    Feel free to PM me if you'd rather.

    Any ideas would be most appreciated

    Thank you
    Cardigan2

    Quote from EmerNurse
    I was fortunate enough, during nsg school, to work for a hospital as a secretary and was friends with the IV therapy nurse. She'd give me a couple of primary line sets and a bag of expired NS, and I'd go home and practice over and over and over.

    LOL I remember the shoebox with a small hole in it to practice the technique for foleys - I took so much razzing from my dh LOL.

    I was always nervous with new stuff like that but if I had time to play with the equipment beforehand without worrying about getting something unsterile or whatever, I always did better.

    Yes that's what skills lab is for, but I worked fulltime during school and my school campus was nearly an hour away. I created my own skills lab at home with a few items from the hospital and whatever I could put together from household stuff.

    Get creative - the more comfortable with the stuff you are, the more you play with it, the less nervous you'll be. Xanax don't hurt either <grin>.

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