Lauryn, I had a TERRIBLY rough start to my nursing career. Many times I truly wondered if I was ever going to get it off the ground! I graduated just at a time when nurses were being laid off right, left and centre, and there were no jobs anywhere! It was devastating!
I was also working for an agency, well, a couple of agenecies, where if you made a mistake, even a simple one you were made to feel you had MURDERED somebody. You were called up on the carpet in front of your team leader, and the Director of Nursing, and had to explore in detail just what had gone wrong. It was sheer hell on your confidence level.
Today, I work for a homecare agency which supports its nurses. I remember the first time I made a med error with this job. The pharmacy had screwed up the MD's order, and scheduled the antibiotic to run q. 8 h, instead of q. 6 h. I had not had time to get the paperwork which had the original order on it, so I just went by what the pharmacy had printed on the AB bags. It wasn't till the following day, when I got the paperwork off my fax machine that I realized the error. Then, to top it off, the nurse that was supposed to see this patient while I was at my aunt's funeral messed up, and his visit was missed. His IV site went interstitial, and, unable to reach a nurse, he removed the cannula himself. I was SURE I was really in deep trouble!! I was so upset I was in tears as I explained the situation to my manager. Well, she filed the report, I faxed a copy of the original MD's order and the (wrong) pharmacy order to the relevant people, and THAT WAS THE END OF IT!! I never heard a thing about the incident again! The only thing my manager said, was in future, I should get a nurse to read the order over the phone to me, if I don't actually have the paperwork in hand. Having this sort of support from the front office has increased my confidence dramatically, to the point where I no longer quake in my shoes every time I have to stand up to a doctor on behalf of a patient.
So, the moral of this story is, avoid the nurse-eaters and nay-sayers if at all possible. They will do you in, suck your confidence down the drain if you let them. Learn from your mistakes, but don't dwell on them. The vast majority of nursing errors are not life-threatening. Learn from them, and say, "Well, tomorrow, I'll do better!"
Don't be afraid to ask questions if you're unsure of something. Some nurses don't have time for this, or don't have the patience, so find yourself a couple of mentors who will be willing to help you out when you're stuck. I vividly remember the first time I had to set up an ambulatory infusion pump on my own. I was having so much trouble that I phoned another nurse on my team (who was herself fairly new) and she coached me through it over the phone. That's the sort of support that's priceless when you're new to the job, and I wish more nurses would realize this. Find yourself someone who does!
[ June 01, 2001: Message edited by: Jay-Jay ]