The first year wasn't so bad... now I'm struggling

  1. I've been a med surg RN for 2 1/2 years. The first year wasn't bad. The second started getting worse and the third I feel like I'm struggling. I'm so scared I'm forgetting something that will lead to consequences with a patient. I'm pretty anxious at work and I feel like the worst nurse ever, even though I know I'm not. I am pretty OCD in an attempt to not be complacent (I think) but always have been. I work nights, am single, live alone and struggle socially and wonder if this is contributing to my anxiety at work. Anyone else have the same thing happen?

    And I LOVE LOVE LOVE my job. I know I do it well. But the anxiety about it.... grrrrrrr.
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  2. 7 Comments

  3. by   Marrco824
    Hey,I know I may not be the right person to reply to this as I haven't been working as a nurse yet. I just graduated and plan to take my RN License in the coming months.
    During my preceptorship experience on a medical surgical floor, I did feel worried at times as if I forgot to do something or if I did the right thing. For me, the feelings I experienced, I don't think of it as anxiety I perceived it as positive instincts. I would be more worried if I didn't have them. But, maybe it is just me going through the motions in learning to work as a nurse and doing the right thing.

    On the other hand, has anything changed or occurred that has lead you to experience increasing levels of anxiety as you work on the floor. From what I have read you seem to be more aware of your patients and your actions. I think the more knowledge and experience you gain you may feel like you need to do more. But, really we have to return to the basics and focus. Chart and document appropriately, perform interventions and reassess patient and just hope the patients don't crash.
  4. by   Ruby Vee
    The two questions I have are these: do you think you're experiencing classic burnout? And do you think you might be depressed?

    I've experienced - and recovered from -- burnout several times in my career. Start by taking care of yourself: eat healthy, get plenty of sleep and exercise. Make the effort to do something nice for yourself every day. And you already know this, but you need a support system. You need a close friend or two. Believe me, you're not the only person who has felt this way! Making friends is easier for some than for others, and it is an effort for many of us. Sign up for a class, join a club or find something to volunteer for that you're interested in or passionate about. It's easier to make friends where you share a passion.

    Look up the symptoms of depression, and if they apply to you, go see your PCP. She can refer you to a counselor or she can prescribe antidepressants, whichever she thinks is most indicated.

    This is surface-level advice for a problem that may be deeper than that, but it's a start. Hope it helps.
  5. by   medsurgrn95
    I'm starting working on a BSN this summer with an online class. I'm excited about it. I work 12 hour overnight shifts and LOVE it but when I work (usually consecutive) it's going home & sleeping & basically coming back. For me it's do something nice for myself vs. getting enough sleep & making a meal for the next shift. I don't have set days I work so it's hard to take an in person class. I've been on antidepressants before and didn't tolerate them well. I felt kind of numb. It's challenging but I work on it. Thanks for your advice.
  6. by   katnurs
    I understand how you feel. Im a float nurse and I also work night shift, three nights a week. I go to a different unit every time i go to work. I also love my job but i do always freak out as well before coming into work. Even though Its almost been a year for me, I still feel like theres so much learning and I always feel incompetent. But for me, I make sure I get to spend time with friends and we do something fun. Im learning to just leave work at work once I clock out. I try to excercise and I detox by watching comedy shows to make me laugh and forget about the sad things at work.
  7. by   chrty_knox
    Im in my 3rd year as a nurse I took a long maternity leave after my twins and returned casual call so a about 4 or 5 shifts a month now. I did do an apprentice nurse program after my first year of nursing school and completed my preceptorship/orientation with flying colors. I felt like I was doing great then.....I now feel as if im a horrible nurse. I feel like I am still a newbie to an extent. I think I hope I will gain even more experience when I return full time. The 3rd year of being a nurse has been the hardest. Although experience wise it prob adds up to a 1 1/2 to 2 years full time experience. I even was a cna for 6 years prior to becoming an rn and still nursing is so different.
  8. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from chrty_knox
    Im in my 3rd year as a nurse I took a long maternity leave after my twins and returned casual call so a about 4 or 5 shifts a month now. I did do an apprentice nurse program after my first year of nursing school and completed my preceptorship/orientation with flying colors. I felt like I was doing great then.....I now feel as if im a horrible nurse. I feel like I am still a newbie to an extent. I think I hope I will gain even more experience when I return full time. The 3rd year of being a nurse has been the hardest. Although experience wise it prob adds up to a 1 1/2 to 2 years full time experience. I even was a cna for 6 years prior to becoming an rn and still nursing is so different.

    In the past two years I've been on two extended medical leaves -- with almost a year between them. In the interim, our unit has been moved to a different area of the hospital as the hospital is focused on updating and remodeling "to provide you the best care possible." Some things in the new unit are the same, but others -- including some policies have changed a lot. It doesn't help that we get a new crop of newbies (25 this summer) who turn over regularly. Fully a quarter of the staff was new to me when I came back -- plus new respiratory therapist, residents, PTs, pharmacists etc. Even though I've been in the ICU for 33 years, I felt pretty lost when I came back.

    Coming back on casual call makes it even more difficult -- you work so infrequently that the learning curve is even steeper. You are a newbie, and you probably are, at this point, a horrible nurse. I certainly was when I came back after each medical leave. The good news is it comes back more quickly than you learned it in the first place! The time management, critical thinking, planning and hands on skills took time to develop in the first place, and they'll take time to develop again.

    I wish you luck -- I'm still struggling a bit, but based on prior experience, I should be catching up soon!
  9. by   chrty_knox
    Ruby Vee glad I am not the only one to understand the challenges! I have to laugh at your bluntness. "You are a newbie, and you probably are, at this point, a horrible nurse." Every shift before I go in I pray that God will help me be the best nurse I can be and still I go home and terrorize my brain about what I should of, would of, could of done better at work. The will to be a great nurse is there I just need to keep on practicing and I know it will all come together.

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