Doubting myself...help!

  1. Hello everyone. My name is Allison. I am a student in my 4th semester of an 18 month PN course. I've been a member here for a while, and have been lurking around even longer (mostly turning here for a little reassurance in moments of despair like this one), but this is my first actual post. And, of course, I'm taking the time out to actually post something (test in the morning--should be studying!) because I have a problem...

    I hate clinicals! A pretty significant problem, right? Considering clinicals are basically a mini version of what I'm attempting to learn to do as a career! What makes this problem even more distressing is I'm not sure why I hate clinicals. Basically, I believe it has to be one of two things: either nursing is just not for me, or I'm just still too confused and feeling much too uncomfortable to enjoy it.

    Grades are not an issue. I'm pretty much a straight A student. Theory has been, and still is, fairly easy for me, and I find most of the material interesting (particularly OB, which we just finished). Even my grades on clinical paperwork have been straight A's. However, when it comes to the actual hands-on, patient care, clinical stuff, I feel lost and inadequate. I'm afraid to do procedures, and I drive to clinicals every morning with a knot in my stomach!

    So far, we have done geriatric clinicals, a very brief mental health rotation, and a general, patient care, med surg I rotation. I think about it more, and wonder if my issue is working with people. I wonder if I wouldn't be better suited for some kind of desk job or something... Though, then again, I've enjoyed pretty much all of my patient interactions (maybe I was just lucky enough to always pick good patients) as far as doing minor things for them and conversing with them and such, but the thought of being responsible for someone's well-being and the fact that one mistake could be detrimental to their health, or even life, makes the idea of any significant procedures, medication administration and the like quite scary.

    I'm sure I'm just questioning my own abilities and I shouldn't be, but I just don't know how to get over this and move past it. I'm not exactly the most outgoing, confident, or brave person in the world, but deep down I know that I am capable of doing this... I just can't seem to eliminate this fear and lack of self confidence!

    In all honesty, it's so terrible that part of me (a pretty significant part, i should add!) wants to just quit! Of course, I'm not stupid enough to do that because I'll finish in August of this year. I've put in far too much work and effort, dealt with far too much stress, and lost far too much sleep to give up now! Not to mention the fact that I'm 22, still living with my parents (and getting some monetary assistance from them) for financial reasons, in a bit of student loan debt... just ready to start a real life with a decent job and my own place! Realistically, even if I truly wanted to quit, there's nothing else for me to do. It's next to impossible to get a job with adequate pay that would enable me to pay off my debts and move out of my parent's house without some kind of education, and I simply cannot afford to just start over going to school for something else. Not to mention the fact that I don't really know what else I would want to do anyway. I don't know what to do with myself!!

    Wow. Felt good to get all that out. I apologize to anyone who has actually taken the time out to read my lengthy, whiney post, but I didn't know where else to turn to let this out and actually get some kind of helpful advice, input, empathy, anything! I've been expressing this here and there in bits and pieces to my family and friends since I started clinicals, but I always seem to get the same, "stop being silly, you can do it" or "then just quit" type of responses. It's clear that they don't understand, and I don't think you really can not having gone through it...

    So, has anyone here ever experienced the same, or similar, feelings at any point during their nursing education? Or am I just a whiney little coward? Or worse yet, in the wrong field?

    Thanks in advance for any input, guys! Hopefully my next post will be a bit more positive. We're starting the serious clinicals next week, though, so I can't make any promises...
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  2. 5 Comments

  3. by   Lori RN_09_2b
    Hi, Allison!

    I'm so sorry you're struggling right now, but I think I can relate. While I don't HATE clinicals, I'm definitely feeling out of place and unsure of myself. In fact, everyone in my class has been joking about giving it all up and getting jobs at Wal-Mart.

    When I started school, I assumed that because I'm a bit older I'd have an easier time--you know, more experience with people, etc. But I think that clinicals are a whole different experience, and I think we're not meant to necessarily feel comfortable while we're in school. It's hard, though, because we want to feel like we're doing something good, or accomplishing something, but sometimes we feel too lost and stupid--at least I do. The idea of a desk job where I could be a little competent is very appealing to me, too.

    I'm also great at the theoretical part of school, and so far I'm doing OK in clinicals, but I don't love it like I thought I would. I do love the patients, though, and I really think that that's what we should keep focused on until the rest of it becomes easier and more comfortable. If you had said that you really didn't like the patients, I'd say yeah, reconsider. But I really think you're just doubting yourself. And I personally would rather have a nurse caring for me that had the self-awareness to question her goals.

    I'm pretty tired so I'm not sure that this made sense, but I guess I just hope you keep going, and know that you're NOT the only one feeling the same way. And for what it's worth, thank you for the post--it made me feel better about my own struggles. Hey, we gotta stick together through this!

    Good luck, and keep us posted!

    Lori
  4. by   locolorenzo22
    I think the catch is that as a student we have SO much we end up being responsible for, and we have instructors over our shoulders much of the day during clinicals. However, I feel that some of what we do is just care, and the outcomes often are decided based on how we handle ourselves. Nervous/anxious? So is the pt.
    The tip is to remember mistakes happen. Smaller the better, but if you do something major FESS UP right away, so the pt is not affected. that, and take a DEEP breath! Life is what we make of it....
    Of course all of us feel we could just go get jobs working community health fairs and doing BP screenings for a living.....or maybe Subway's hiring. We'd be good at the handwashing.
  5. by   lilypad2424
    Allison, sometimes you have to just feel the bad feelings before clinicals. Just come to terms with the fact that it's going to suck, and do it. I too dislike my clinicals, but for a different reason. THE PAPERWORK! My instructor focuses on paperwork like a mother, and i think it's such a waste of time! Not that I shouldn't learn to chart correctly.......anyway, just don't quit. Finish what you started and go from there. Something wonderful is waiting
  6. by   SmetRN2008
    You sound JUST like me. I feel the same way and doubt myself everyday. But like you also, I am NOT about to give up. I did that once and regretted it terribly! I know in my heart I want to be a nurse. But I also get extremely nervous in clinicals and I don't enjoy it at all. I'm a shy person and have always lacked self-confidence and when I'm in clinicals I just feel completely incompetent and stupid! I just keep telling myself that it's normal though. I'm sure everyone feels the same just starting out. I also get straight A's in everything and my clinical instructor thinks I do a great job. As hard as it is I try to stay positive. I have plenty of "down on me" days. But I know trying to keep a positive attitude is what is going to get me through this....and you too! I think in nursing you just have to find your specialty, and what is nice is there are SO many options. You don't have that with most other career choices. I already know med/surg is NOT for me. Maybe OB, maybe even mental health, but so far (I'm in my 2nd semester of an RN program by the way) we have only done med/surg clinicals. I also thought about community nursing, working in a doctor's office. I'm not sure, but I am hoping to find my specialty and I'm sure you will too. Just hang in there and keep going, you'll be done soon and things will be different. Nursing school is meant to be hard. Things will be better once we are actually nurses. Good luck!!
  7. by   Daytonite
    allison. . .congratulations on taking a plunge and finally making a post! i started nursing school when i was 24 and felt many of the same things you are feeling. i was already started off in accounting, but didn't like it as much as i thought i would. i knew back in high school that i should be a nurse, but i questioned that it was the right profession for me. i questioned my decision about it all the way through nursing school and even for a few years afterward when i went through that awkward period of hard on-the-job learning. now, i can tell you i'm glad i stuck it out. yes, it was the right choice. i think what i was feeling all those years was just the uncertainty. somehow, i must have thought that because it was something i felt i needed to be doing that i should just fall into it and it should all come to me naturally. i was wrong. if i've learned anything over my lifetime (and i'm now 57), it's that most things in life take an effort to learn well. what is happening is that you are mixing your emotions with the hard work you are putting forward. our emotions will do that to us. they are strong little buggers. i think that the reason mr. spock and data in the star trek series were such popular characters is because they had no emotions and we admired their rational decisions. but, boy! didn't we love those episodes where something went wrong and they got emotions and things went all wrong for them! all through nursing school and for a few years after i carried a terrible fear of accidentally killing a patient. i was terrible at starting ivs for a few years until i took the bull by the horns and hunkered down, put my nose to the grindstone and did something about it. i think that you will find that if you persevere, just keep learning your lessons as you are being taught them and continue to work toward mastering nursing procedures you are going to find that in a few years you will feel much better about your performance. it takes time to become a master in any profession. you'll get there. it's just that putting in the time is a killer--especially when you are as young as you. you won't remember this, but you didn't learn to tie your shoes the first time you were taught to do it either. the same goes for learning to ride a bike, blow bubbles with bubble gum, keep your balance on roller skates, etc. what these things all have in common with being a student is that they take time, a lot of practice and patience to perfect. time always seems to go so slow. believe me, when you get to my age, somehow time has managed to go faster and you wish it would slow down! it used to be that christmas took forever to come around. now, it seems like it comes next week. you'll see.

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