Feeling Incompetent

  1. I have one more term left until I graduate and become an RN but lately I'm feeling overwhelmed like I'm too dumb or incompetent to be a nurse. I can't imagine being on my own. I forget little things (like supplies or certain steps) and feel overwhelmed with my critical thinking skills. Did or do any of you ever feel like this? Or have any tips or advice to get me past this slump? Thanks!!
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   TriciaJ
    Of course you feel overwhelmed and inept. That's actually a good sign, because it means you realize just how much you still don't know. (Nothing raises more red flags than an over-confident new grad.) As you keep moving forward, your confidence will grow and you will feel less overwhelmed. But nursing always brings new challenges, no matter how many years you've been at it. You never really stop learning and growing.

    Yes, we've all been where you are. Not just as a student or new grad, but every time we start in a new position or a new specialty. You're off to a better start than it feels like right now. Hang in there.
  4. by   vanaly
    Thanks for your words of wisdom, you make valid points. Hopefully, I'll become more confident with time
  5. by   brownbook
    TriciaJ is exactly correct. Every new nurse, and even an experienced nurse working in a new area, should feel a little nervous and dumb. Thinking "I should know that or everybody but me know that" is stinking thinking and stops them from asking questions.

    There is a time and place to ask, ideally not right in front of the patient, ideally not when who you're asking is obviously busy. Some coworkers like to teach, some don't. Just don't feel dumb to ask.

    I will never forget seeing my first colonoscopy, the doctor said, there is the liver. I didn't say a thing thinking whaaaaaaa???? how can you see the liver, am I so stupid? No he was just being a nice friendly doctor teaching and expecting me to ask him to explain.

    So there is no dumb question, just appropriate times and places to ask them.
  6. by   Georgia SRNA
    Keep your chin up!

    That's exactly how your ought to feel at this point. Honestly you'll be constantly doubling-back because you forgot supplies for 6+ mo after you graduate and get a job and that's TOTALLY OKAY!

    Advice:

    1) Make lists...as intense as your need them to be...and check things off when you're done. It's helpful and satisfying.

    2) If you hear people talking about something that make no sense, right it down and look it up when you have a chance - don't get flustered!

    3) Ask questions - Now's the time! Don't be afraid of looking foolish, we've all been there.
  7. by   direw0lf
    Also keep in mind that there's orientation periods for new nurses - you aren't on your own at first! Ask how long the length is when you're interviewing.
  8. by   ~♪♫ in my ♥~
    Quote from vanaly
    I have one more term left until I graduate and become an RN but lately I'm feeling overwhelmed like I'm too dumb or incompetent to be a nurse.
    If you were too dumb to be a nurse you would already have flamed out.

    Anybody of average intelligence with fair attention to detail and a decent work ethic has the basic elements in place to be a successful nurse.

    I can't imagine being on my own.
    Let me clue you in on something... a great many 3rd-year ED residents and new fellows have expressed to me the same feeling.

    It's perfectly natural to feel anxious about being primarily responsible for providing care to another human being without someone else looking over your shoulder to make sure you don't screw it up.

    You'll be fine... it just takes some time (actually, it's got nothing to do with time and everything to do with EXPERIENCE)

    I forget little things (like supplies or certain steps)
    The way that you don't forget supplies is by forgetting supplies and having to back-track 3 times to get everything that you need.

    (I) feel overwhelmed with my critical thinking skills.
    Again, this comes with experience. You need to see things go well and go wrong in order to develop the experience base upon which critical thinking draws. Without experience, it's very hard to predict cause-and-effect and clinical trajectory.

    Did or do any of you ever feel like this?
    A little bit although by the time I was graduating from nursing school I was 45 years old and had a ton of experience in taking on new job roles so I'd already learned how to manage those feelings of insecurity and I had many years of confidence-boosting success in very difficult fields of endeavor.

    My advice: Relax and let it come. Continue to read case studies and review your basic physiology and pathphysiology.

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