New grad RN, don't think I can do this

  1. Hi everyone,
    I'm from Australia and just graduated as an RN. I was fortunate enough to get a 12 month graduate program in a paediatric hospital, I had 5 days of orientation last week and commenced on the ward for supernumerary on Monday with a preceptor.

    First day went well, I was very overwhelmed with the variety of the ward I'm on (orthopaedics/plastics) as I've never had anything to do with that speciality! I had a shift yesterday, it started great and I felt like I was getting the hang of things, then we had ward transfers, other nurses had to be relocated and I was suddenly stuck with patients I didn't even receive a handover for. I did my best, did IVAB's, care-plans and notes. I gave a bub panadol about 2 hours late as I had no idea it was due, this made me feel terrible. I suddenly starting crying and broke down a little, my preceptor is lovely and asked if I was okay and she said I was doing a great job, my time management is good and I'm working well but I just kept thinking "How am I going to do this without a preceptor next week?"

    The staff all seem lovely and I feel well supported but it's not helping with feeling like this. I feel like an absolute mess.

    I drove home absolutely balling my eyes out, riddled with anxiety that I've made a terrible mistake and I can't do this. I've had a nasty ear/sinus infection all week so no doubt this hasn't helped, I went in for my morning shift today but got sent home because I looked terrible. So tomorrow will be 3rd shift. And I'm terrified.

    Thinking about going back makes me so so anxious and terrified that I can't do this. Is this normal? Will it pass? I'm absolutely terrified. Please give me any advice you can! Thanks!
    Last edit by becmcg on Feb 15
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  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   Jules A
    Wow that sounds like a lot and I bet anyone would have been overwhelmed. Its wonderful to hear that your peers are supportive which also lends me to think that you indeed did a good job based on their expectations of a brand new RN. Take a deep breath, save the crying for the car ride home and plaster a fake smile on your face.

    The next shift will probably also be challenging but there are things you learned at the last shift that you will have under your belt and every day you will be adding more knowledge and skills to your repertoire. This is a process and trust me even after years there are still days that overwhelm an experienced nurse and make us wonder what the heck we are doing although they are fewer and farther between. This can be a challenging but also very rewarding career. Give your self time to get your sea legs.
  4. by   snowflower2016
    I'm a new grad nurse and have been working on my unit on my own for about 6 weeks now (after 6 weeks of orientation). When I was on orientation, I was always feeling overwhelmed and cried on the way home several times. It will get better! The basic tasks and documentation will become more comfortable and you'll be able to have quiet moments to think about things with a calm mind. This makes a big difference. Hang in there.
  5. by   nurseypants328
    I think what you are going through is totally normal. You will have days where you will feel invincible and days that will cripple you. Even as an experienced nurse you will have these days!! Be patient with yourself and ASK QUESTIONS. Don't feel like you are alone, use your charge nurse and your peers when you have questions. Nursing is collaborative, that's what is makes it so wonderful. Also, get there early in the beginning so you have a little extra time to research your patients YOU CAN DO IT!!
  6. by   Paulini
    I'm a new grad too, almost 6 months into my first job. The first 2 weeks I cried almost every time when I finished my shift - didn't even make it to the locker room once. ^ months in, I still feel overwhelmed and even stupid at times. But then I stop to remind myself that the things I did do today were totally alien to me a couple months ago and now I do them without any trouble. So hopefully in another 6 months I'll know even more!
  7. by   Tooda
    I have been in the nursing profession for 32 years. Back then and even now a preceptorship is always helpful to new grads not 5 days. A new nurse has to learn her scope and it is difficult when you get a job in a special area in the field. Long term care murse gives you a somewhat slower pace but you see a lot of things that you can apply to a text book picture. Hospitals are a faster pace and usually being new you are going to feel overwhelmed
  8. by   Azxrn
    Just breathe.....and don't be afraid to ask for help. It takes time to get in your groove , but it will happen...
  9. by   BSNbeDONE
    Tears or profanity: pick your poison. I curse like a sailor when I get into my car even after going into 31 years of nursing.
    I'm going to work on that this year.
  10. by   RNikkiF
    It's actually a good thing that you're taking this so seriously. It shows you fully understand the situation. It's very normal to feel this way. It sounds like you're doing well. Make sure you take every opportunity to ask questions. In the states, we have LONG orientations, which I'm guessing is the same as supernumary (?). I'm experienced and i had 6 weeks for one job. Can you request more time if you feel you need it? It sounds like you're doing well, though!
  11. by   nancy welch
    Another thing that I found to helped me was to tell the other nurses when they are going to be doing a procedure that you are not familiar with and ask to monitor the task..then at least when you have a different patient in the future that is similar you will have at least seen the procedure before, now is the perfect time for that, Oh and one more thing when you are faced with a task later on that you have not ever performed, do not pretend that you know it. Ask for someone to go with you that has that experience,then go home and read up on it, you will never regret it. I was a RN for over 20 years and equipment and procedures do change a lot. A lot of Physicians also have their own technique and they like things done a certain way. My last few years were spent on a homecare pediatric patient, The parents notified me that the Physician requested his vent changed to a newer model. I freaked out because in Homecare a lot of times the parents were not home, it was just the patient and me.We were going to have a one hour in service, I had a deep fear that that hour was not going to be enough time, so I asked the name and model of the new vent,I went home looked it up on the computer and even watched You Tube videos and wrote down any questions that I had about it, so when we did have the in service I could have any questions about the vent itself answered and I felt more adequately prepared for my first shift . I even took photos of exactly which tube connected to what during that in service so when time came to change out the old tubes I did not run into any problems. I even drew photos on the tubing order and the day it was to be done on, and placed it in front of the patient chart for the other nurses. And last but not least, IF you did not feel the anxiety as a new nurse on the floor then I would worry..I had a bad case of it at first, and really off and on thru my entire career, you have it because you care about your patients and you strive to do the best you can at your job. It does get easier, but then there are those days..the crazy anxiety days.. Good Luck!
  12. by   Idaho_nurse
    You are being WAY too hard on yourself. While I cant say all of us, I can say MOST of us have been where you are at. Being that you had ONLY 5 days of orientation and then were basically tossed out on your own (due to circumstances), I think you are doing FABULOUS. Be easy on yourself. who hasnt given a med 2 hours late at one time in their career? anyone? anyone? bueller.. bueller.. I promise you that it will get better and better and easier and easier as you gain experience. YOU SURVIVED and that is saying something right there.. AND.. nobody was hurt in the process. Keep on rockin on.
  13. by   Reyn04
    Please be patient with yourself, you just have to get used to it. Going to any new environment can be stressful & being a new grad probably doubles that. But its ok.

    First advice: breathe. Really. You start to feel stressed out a couple of deep breaths to refocus yourself. Getting stressed out is only going to stress you out more if that makes sense. Thinking about what you have to do, didnt get to do, didnt know you had to do... all that stress and worry might make you make a mistake. I assure you, things will get done. Its a 24h job... things will get done. Which leads to this:

    As much as possible dont let anyone run you around. Be in charge of your day. Yes, it may delay things at first but lets be honest. You're human. You can not be all things to all people. And others will try - on purpose or accidentally to run you ragged. Coworkers will ask for help, patients & families will ask for meds or stuff: be honest. Take the time you need to do your job effectively. Assess the patient, review charts & meds, get caught up, on to the next. People will ask, but sometimes, the answer is no (or at least not right now). with time & experience you'll get faster & better. You'll learn a bit more task juggling when you develop your skills a bit.

    Next. Reprehensible that you werent given hand-off. Is there a charge nurse who can give you an overview of the patient? No, its not in-depth but the basics help until you can review history.

    Meds. Ok, it was late. Try not to do that but guess what? It happens to all of us at times. If its multi dose adjust times for the next & get on track. If you are unsure, call the pharmacist. (I do this for things like Vanco since blood levels are ordered on number & time of doses.)

    Finally, even off orientation, you are not alone. Ask for help, explainations, assistance. The know you're a new grad there should be no question of getting help from your coworkers. But beyond that: you are NOT alone.

    I've been a nurse 7 years, Others longer, others shorter: We all feel overwhelmed sometimes. And yes, we all need help sometimes.

    you CAN do this but please, give yourself a break.
    Last edit by Reyn04 on Jun 21 : Reason: spelling error

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New grad RN, don't think I can do this