I am reaching out for opinions and advice as I feel so lost and confused about my journey with nursing and my career path.
I am 24 years old and a first year nursing student. I have wanted to be a nurse since I was 4 years old and have spent my whole life in admiration of the nursing profession. Everything I've done has been based on my ultimate life goal of becoming an RN. I have never worked in the healthcare field but have a strong love and compassion for all people and am fascinated by the medical field which made me feel like nursing was my true calling.
I have finished all but 1 pre-req which I have been completing since 2009 and got accepted into a great local school of nursing. I had been so excited to embark on this journey and had such high hopes; feeling like this was the beginning of my destiny. I've completed only one semester and passed NUR 101, but had a horrible few months. (Brief background info: I have generalized anxiety disorder and have suffered with anxiety my whole life).
As soon as clinical started, the excitement and joy I felt quickly turned into fear and dread. I was very nervous about attending clinical and felt as though I was unprepared for direct pt. care. I expected the first few months to be rocky because I was a first timer in this industry and felt that that was normal and just kept positive, but even after months of the same experiences and chances to practice the same procedures repeatedly, I still feel absolute horror at clinical. Both at the quiet and calm resident home, and the busy hospital wing I was on with my group I just felt completely out of place.
My anxiety in the nursing line of duty is an all time high for me. Going to clinical was a night mare and starting to become a battle. I would legitimately have anxiety attacks every night and morning before each clinical for hours straight crying hysterically and hyperventilating not knowing how I would find the strength to walk into the hospital building the next morning. I was systemically ill from the stress and anxiety from nursing school. I experienced severe acne over my face and body that I've never had before, G.I problems, constant diarrhea, migraine headaches, body rashes, weight loss, hair loss, and nightmares.
I really don't 100% understand why I feel this way when I am there, but for some reason I do and I really can't see myself living like that for 2 years. The stress was just unmanageable for me. I am a good student but book work is certainly the ONLY part of nursing school I could tolerate and succeed in. It was difficult, but I urged myself to finish out the semester and not quit in the middle to be able to have a month off for Christmas break and evaluate my situation. I am also getting married in 5 months and want to enjoy this special time in our lives and enjoy planning my wedding and living life.
I don't want to feel the fear and anxiety I felt daily in school and have that also effect my fiance', friends, and family members with concern for my mental and physical health and well being like it did last semester. This past month out of school all of my health problems I had described basically disappeared, and I feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I feel like I am in mourning at the thought of quitting nursing school, especially after only 1 semester and know that I will feel like a failure and disappointed in myself but I don't know what else to do. I know that nursing school is supposed to be incredibly difficult, but if I feel like it's torture and experience what I do than that is certainly not normal, correct? I so desperately want a career where I can help people- and treat them with genuine love and kindness.
I know I have heard many people say "nursing is not for everyone" so is is safe to say that regretfully, nursing is not for me?
Last edit by TheCommuter on Jan 14, '13
: Reason: formatting, paragraphs
Jan 12, '13
Congratulations on you up coming wedding and also for having the courage to decide to walk away. I've worked with people who have stuck out the four years to become an RN hoping it will get better and it never did for them.
Good luck on which ever path you take in your life.
Jan 12, '13
Olive_Juice have you sought counseling? I cannot imagine what you are going through! Nursing can be stressful enough on its own; but paired with anxiety disorder I am not sure I could make it! I commend you for sticking it out for the semester and wish you the best in whatever direction life takes you.
Jan 12, '13
I went to school to start my career, and it was a difficult transition to go from full time worker, to student.
I don't read monographs all that well, so I may have missed something, but it appears like the big issue is anxiety. Untreated anxiety may return, even if you choose another life path.
I'd suggest working to get that under control before making any final decisions.
Jan 12, '13
I think that what might be happening is that this childhood dream has set you up for absolute shock.
You see nursing is absolutely nothing like you thought it was, or like it is on TV, or like any of our patients think or family/friends think it is.
You had this idea of what you wanted to do with your life, and I have to tell you that you won't have that in nursing.
If you can sit down and look at things for what they are, and know that this is not at all what you put all your plans towards, I think you should STOP, and get out of the program.
Get yourself back in a "normal" zone, and work on your anxiety. During this time you can talk to various people about what you might decide to start again at. This time you will be all the wiser. This time you have the golden opportunity to try and shadow different careers with TOTAL understanding of what reality is for those other occupations after the shadowing and the conversations. No sugarcoating anything for you, you will know who is telling it like it is this time.
What's important is to stop the giving away of your money until you can go forward with a calculated/educated plan in place! You will be better off than most of the nurses who post here on allnurses.com, that is a fact.
Jan 12, '13
Sounds like you need treatment for your anxiety regardless of your decision. If you are looking for someone to give you the "ok" to quit school, you won't get it from me, because frankly it doesn't affect me at all and I have enough responsibility managing my own life. You need to make that decision and live with the consequences - the same as you would have to do if you decided to stay in school. At the end of the day, you are the one who has to live with your decision. Do I think someone who hyperventilates, cries hysterically, and gets physically sick should be making critical decisions regarding a vulnerable person's health? No. But, on the other hand, if you are having such severe anxiety, this is probably not the only time you will have it and definitely need to get to the root of it for your own peace. Just my humble opinion.
Jan 12, '13
I cannot tell you if it's for you or not. But I can tell that I've suffered from panic attacks and constant anxiety for years. I started nursing school right after I had a baby and my anxiety and depression was at its worst. Ive had everything from never-ending migraines to gastritis. Thankfully, I found a great psychiatrist, and with medication and weekly psychotherapy I have made it through nursing school and the constant anxiety has decreased. I felt great going to clinicals and interacting with patients. The anxiety would pop up here and there, but I've learned ways to cope with it. So I guess my advice to you is to seek some counseling :-) and of course to do what you feel is best for you at the moment. I wish you good luck and congrats on your upcoming wedding!
Jan 12, '13
I also had the severe panic attacks and dread in clinical. I recieve great grades in class and like going to class, but I would panic and even cry at clinical for no reason. I would prepare, prepare, and prepare and would not be able to sleep the night before, would get sick that morning, be running around like a chicken with my head cut off the whole clinical day. I would cry on the way home and dread clinical for the rest of the week. Everyone of my instructors have pulled me aside and said that I am a great student, but basically asked if I see a therapist. I got put on atarax which my clinical instructor had said helped immensely, but I felt very foggy so I do not take it now. I am on celexa, which I feel does nothing for my anxiety. My dr. said that I am just an anxious person and will have to cope with it. I see a therapist, and they ask me why I panic about clinicals. I stated "that I wasn't sure what I panic about". He made me realize that I panic about getting the anxiety again, and that I need to catch myself before it starts and tell myself that I have done all that I can to prepare and there is nothing to panic about. It has really helped me to realize that. I also realized that I was expecting so much of myself at clinicals that I could never live up to the expectations that I had made for myself so I would always leave clinicals feeling like a failure.
I say quit if you think that it is only caused by nursing, and if you feel it is truely not right for you. I know that I didn't quit because I am sure that I would of felt the anxiety regardless of what I was doing so I know that I just needed to learn to cope with it. I also did not like nursing because of the anxiety, but when I realized that I just associated my anxiety with nursing I began to realize that I do enjoy nursing.
Jan 12, '13
I think it is common for nursing students to feel anxious at clinicals. I know I sure did. I would first try to get some treatment for your GAD. You could also try to shadow nurses at a local hospital so that you can see what they do without feeling the pressure?
Jan 12, '13
Don't give up on your dream. Go to the doctor and explain your symptoms. Maybe you need a mild mood stabilizer. Seriously you don't have to live like this!! I have I take something daily and prn for anxiety and my world is so much calmer now. Best of luck to you. You can do it, they are just people just like you.
"No day but today"
Jan 13, '13
I believe your anxiety comes out of fear of desapointing yourself, not doing the right thing. I would seek medical treatment, because this problem is not related to nursing. It is related to how you react to uncertainty and fear. Look, if others can do it, you can do it too. So as one of the previous posts said: "get it under control before you take a final decision".
I had a friend who left nursing school on her first semester, became a shoe designer and is happy now.
All the best!!!
Jan 13, '13
I started college as pre-med and then gave up on it because I didn't have the emotional strength or wisdom to deal with people when they needed someone secure and grounded. I was too young and had too much to sort out. I majored in something else, did two different careers and have come back to school to be a nurse this time.
Now the things that I formerly didn't have the strength to deal with are what draw me to being a nurse and being with people in their hard moments.
Maybe nursing isn't right for you now. Come back to it after you get more life experience if it still calls to you.
Jan 13, '13
The OP is also planning a wedding and wanting to give her marriage the best start possible. Nursing school is intense, so is the first year of marriage. I'd concentrate on the marriage rather than university and a degree.
Remember we are all different. Like tigerlogic, I wanted to nurse as high school grad. My Mum talked me out of it. Flash forward 20 years, I sailed through nursing school and could deal with the body fluids, the need to prioritize study time and just deal with people.
Everything doesn't have to be done NOW.
Must Read Topics