Long post ahead!
I graduated nursing school
in May of this year, and was lucky enough to have an ICU position waiting for me as a new grad in a large hospital. I was ecstatic. Critical care is where I've always wanted to be, and I knew it was going to be a huge learning curve, but I jumped in feeling more ready than ever. In this ICU, they do 18 weeks of orientation with a preceptor (which I was also incredibly excited about). Fast forward to now, I am currently on my 15th week of orientation and terrified of the thought of being on my own in just a few weeks.
I feel as though I am not ready at all, and every day it seems to get more overwhelming. Every shift I feel like I make a different mistake or forget to do something minor, and I really beat myself up for it. For example, last night I had to call a doctor to ask a question about a patients insulin drip. Before calling, I wrote out everything I needed to talk to him about, had my chart open in front of me, and had out my most recent set of vital signs and lab values. I paged him, and when he called me back I explained to him the situation, gave him my patients most recent electrolytes and asked what he would like to do next. Instead of telling me, he caught me completely off guard by asking me why we monitor electrolytes with patients on insulin drips. I was dumbfounded, and after a moment of thinking I told him that I honestly was unsure. This angered him, he scoffed at me over the phone and asked to speak with my boss. I handed the phone to my preceptor who was sitting next to me and he proceeded to give her the new orders instead of me. I have never been more embarrassed and I immediately asked my preceptor to explain to me why we monitor electrolytes afterwards. I was near tears the rest of the night.
As I sit at home now, I can't stop thinking about how I should have known the answer. I will be on my own soon, and I won't have a preceptor that I can hand the phone to if a doctor gets mad at me. It's all so overwhelming. I feel like there's always something I'm missing or not even thinking to check. I'm comfortable performing my assessments and passing my medications, I'm decent at time management, but I feel like when it comes to the big picture there are always a few things I'm missing.
The nurses on my unit are very encouraging, they told me that I'm one of the good new nurses and that they will be there for help when I'm off orientation, but I still can't get over this panicky feeling. Will I ever feel ready to be on my own? Does this overwhelming feeling ever get better? I would appreciate any advice right now.