stressed out nurse needs advice

  1. Hi everyone,
    Having a hard week, seems usual lately. Need a pick me up.

    Anyone want to tell how many years it took before you felt like you knew what you were doing? And what do you like about working in the nicu? I love it, but it is stressful and the hours, weekends, mandatory overtime suck.(I know, get over it. right?)

    Also, anyone working nocs want to give me advice on how to have a life without sleeping away every hour you have at home. I don't even have time for exercise, and I am gaining wt, feel terrible, and huff and puff walking down the street(when I do that, that is, and I'm not overweight, just very out of shape and flabby around the middle and the back end and??? someone mentioned to me a cross country trainer is fairly inexpensive and more fun than a treadmill. I own tons of aerobic videos, but don't stick with it. and I don't want to leave the house.

    I have been at my unit for almost 1 year and am finding it hard to fit in. Last night I had a busy 3 baby assignment and was close to tears while others in my bay had 1 or 2 babies and sat with thier calendars and catalogs and complained that my pulse ox monitors were off and the noise was too much. I work in a 60+ bed unit and find it hard to fit in with the nurses who know each other and don't let all new peope in.. I am quiet and not real funny, so I don't fit in like the new guy around the block. He is the only male there and he gets lots of help and attention, and more orientation and more challenging assignments. I try to ask questions to get them involved, and sometimes that is met with irritation or talk about how I don't know enough. any ideas on how to handle this.

    Tell me, now that you read this long message, what do you do for fun?
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  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   KRVRN
    Aww, I'm sorry you're having a hard time. Some units just have a "personality" and it sounds like yours doesn't have a "teamwork/help one another" type personality. Or maybe it's just clique-ish and you're not part of the clique. By 1 year you should already fit in or have found your place, if they are going to let you.

    I'm assuming that you with 3 babies and the others with 1 or 2 wasn't an unfair/unsafe assignment? Were your babies less critical? Sometimes the less criticals are more work because of the desat/oversat game.

    Well, I can't make it better for you I can only suggest asking them for help if they're not busy and you are. Maybe say "hey can one of you get that alarm... I'm in the middle of _______."

    As for not sleeping all the time... That's hard too. What time do you normally go to bed when you DON'T work? Do you go to bed with your husband at a "normal" time or are you awake until 2 or 3? If that's the case, then instead of lying awake in bed, get up and exercise, do housework, surf the net, etc late at night since you're up anyway. If you do go to bed at a "normal" time, then get up early with your husband and try to stay up. If you work that night, still get up early with your husband and do some errands or whatever, then lie back down around 2:00 or so for a nap. That seems to work for me and I actually FEEL like I'm actually UP during the day and getting something done. Although I don't have kids, so I'm not sure what else to offer.

    Hope you get through okay.
  4. by   nurseiam
    Most people in my unit try to work their days in a row. When I worked 8-8 hour nights I tried always being in bed by 9:00 to get up by 4:00 to spend time with the family. Sometimes I would try to lay down before work, but I never depended on it. I always make time for exercise. It makes me a much smoother person. I bought an Eliptical trainer for the days I can't make it to the YMCA. I try to keep my kids in programs there and work-out while they are in class. Now I'm doing 12's 3 on 3 off 2 on 7 off. I love it! I don't worry too much about working out while I'm on a stretch but I aim for everyday that I am off. As for friends try to find an education group or council within your unit. It helps you get to know other people in your unit besides your shift. My best piece of advice for night shift is ear plugs and an eye patch..... another Kristi
  5. by   nell
    Originally posted by Bikerchic
    Hi everyone,
    ...Anyone want to tell how many years it took before you felt like you knew what you were doing?
    More than a year. Sometimes I still don't.

    And what do you like about working in the nicu? I love it, but it is stressful and the hours, weekends, mandatory overtime suck.(I know, get over it. right?)
    Get over the hours, but Mandatory OT should be outlawed. I won't work for a facility that allows it.

    Also, anyone working nocs want to give me advice on how to have a life ...
    I did better working 12hr shifts and doing every other night. Never could sleep more than 3-4 hours during the day, so wouldn't do more than 2 in a row. Everyone is different, and most people prefer their nights in a row, but the every other worked for me. My kid's friends, etc. didn't realize I was a single parent who worked full-time with a 1- 2 1/2 hour commute. I was scout leader and room mother and never missed a field trip.....I just didn't sleep...:chuckle


    I have been at my unit for almost 1 year and am finding it hard to fit in. Last night I had a busy 3 baby assignment and was close to tears while others in my bay had 1 or 2 babies and sat with thier calendars and catalogs and complained that my pulse ox monitors were off and the noise was too much. I work in a 60+ bed unit and find it hard to fit in with the nurses who know each other and don't let all new peope in.. I am quiet and not real funny, so I don't fit in like the new guy around the block. He is the only male there and he gets lots of help and attention, and more orientation and more challenging assignments. I try to ask questions to get them involved, and sometimes that is met with irritation or talk about how I don't know enough. any ideas on how to handle this.
    Even in our friendly unit, there is subtle favoritism. When the "old guard" has a choice between giving an admit to another "old guard" nurse or one of us newer staff members, the newer nurse loses every time. There is a lot more teamwork in my unit, though, and the blatent rudeness that you're experiencing would never happen in my unit. If it were me, I would probably look for a friendlier place to work.

    Tell me, now that you read this long message, what do you do for fun?
    Too old for fun.
    Last edit by nell on Nov 22, '02
  6. by   Bikerchic
    Hi NurseIam and Nell, thanks for the advice.

    My unit is going to be doing a trial of 12 hours, but not everyone wants to and most of the nurses don't think it'll work out. I am #1-5 lowest seniority depending on the night I work so I get frozen often, though others will take it for the night off at times. and they freeze for lack of staffing. Like I mentioned, If you get frozen you get the next night off, which is a vicious ongoing cycle. We have a union, and we are complaining, but not much happening so far. And as far as working somewhere else, we are the only level III in the state. There is a level II, but they aren't hiring.
    I just bought an elliptical trainer and will try that.

    I need to think clearer at night, I just got a verbal warning for not paying attention to details when I had a problem with a uac the other night. Now I'm super stressed. I feel like I am just not going to make it as a nurse, and at times am still ready to leave nursing, but I hate giving up. I don't have an education to go anywhere other than nursing, and I tried other hospitals and didn't like it there either. I have to come up with a plan to pay more attention to details. Does anyone have a plan that works for them if they had an issue with this? I also have to ask for help more, yeah- of the nurses who will then talk about me for having to ask.

    I am requesting to cut my hours from 32 to 24 for now even though I'll lose family insurance and dental. My husband can get the insurance for us, just not the dental. I'm hoping that will help. there is no other shift available, and finding a day shift anywhere in the hospital, or in a nursery anywhere else in this state is near impossible.

    thanks for reading and for the help. much appreciated. I love this site, you guys are great! Wish you worked near me.
  7. by   MEtheBabiesRN
    I went through something similar to you. I worked at an NICU in Dallas which I just loved. The girls there were right into teaching. Didn't make you feel incompetent at all. We decided for personal reasons to move back to Canada. Got a job at the Level III Nicu here and for the most part felt welcome but could see there was a clique going on. There was a handful of charge nurses that could make you feel really stupid. My mistake: standing up to them when they berated me about a situation. One day I was called in to the nurse manager's office to defend myself on a short list of complaints. For instance, one nurse complained that I didn't have lines set up for an incoming transport. She had told me not to set them up because we would use the exsisting lines. Another told her I didn't know how to assess IV sites correctly. This on a baby with a significant amount of dependant edema that had been placed on the same side as the scalp IV therefore causing the edema to pool in that area. The IV flushed easily, blood drew back and when I d/c'd it at the charge nurses insistance, it bled like crazy. There were other things they said but you get the picture. For every item on that list I was able to defend my actions. My nurse manager said that she's had complaints about these nurses before and that this list wouldn't go on my record. I felt so unsupported on that unit and this incident scared me into asking for a transfer to the level II nursery. This happened in April 2000 and my nurse manager asked me to stay until after the summer. If I was that incompetent and unsafe, would she have asked me to stay? I wouldn't think so but it's taken me this long to get my self confidence back. I've done a lot of soul searching and have come to two conclusions. #1 - I used to hear a lot of talk here from nurses that the American training isn't as good as the Canadian training. I don't subscribe to that theory. But I think it sets up a "snob mentality" so that they looked at me as not being as competent because I received my NICU training in the U.S. #2 - Looking back I probably did a little too much of the "where I used to work in Dallas, we did this and we did that". That probably really annoyed them. So like I said, I did a lot of soul searching and have decided that I am not incompetent and when I do make mistakes like everyone does, I will not be so hard on myself. I will admit to the mistake and try to learn from it. And unless asked, I will really try to watch what I say and not bring up my past employers. So I think what you have to do is look at some of the good things you've done as a nurse and focus on that to get your self confidence back. All the best to you.
  8. by   renerian
    I am sorry your having a hard time. I think it took me a year to feel comfortable on the unit I used to work on. I was in charge on 3 to 11 after 6 weeks which was really scarey. Luckily most of the people I worked with were great, but there were two clickey women who were horrible to me. Sometimes they would just walk away when I asked for help. I was so glad when they left to go to another hospital. It will come in time as far as your confidence. I am sure you already do a great job but just are feeling unsure due to your surroundings.

    I hope this has helped some,

    renerian
  9. by   nicudaynurse
    I don't think that it is uncommon for some NICU's to have "cliques" I think what happens is you have a lot of old timers who have been in the unit forever and they have seen a lot of nurses come and go. Although, some of the old timers can be the best they are willing to teach and mentor, but some are just "snobs" and think that they are superior to everyone. I personally has a good experience in the first NICU I worked in, but it did take a long time to get comfortable and even after 2 and a half years there were still situations I feared and had yet to face. I think in any area of nursing it takes a long time to feel comfortable and there is no magic time when you should feel comfortable. If you aren't happy in this unit I would suggest you find another unit to work in. Whatever you do don't let your current experience destroy your love for nursing. With time your confidence will get better, but you need to get in a unit that will accept and nuture you. Hang in there!!!
  10. by   Bikerchic
    Hi everyone. I couldn't believe all the responses I found when I signed on today. I have been on a leave of absence since Thanksgiving for depression and stress. And I have ignored this site because I didn't want to think about work or go back to work. I handed in my resignation, and then the manager called me and offered to put me on second shift for 24 hours instead of night shift for 32 hours. I will give it a try. I go back soon. During my time off I've done alot of reflecting and decided to not be so hard on myself. I will give this shift a chance. I will ignore the rude comments, and tell myself I am doing the best I can and that everyone makes mistakes. I always learn from my mistakes and I'm honest. I report my mistakes instead of hiding them, which is why it looks like I make more, I think. I hope to learn how to pay more attention to detail. The dr. thinks I have ADD. I thing I have many symptoms of it, but I contribute them to other things. I am scared to death about going back after 2 months off. All the encouragement you've given me is certainly helping.
    Thanks so much, Bikerchic
  11. by   Hefe
    Hi, I'm new to the group and also new to NICU nursing. I've been at my workplace for 4 weeks now and am trying very hard to learn the ropes and fit in with other nurses at the same time. Also getting adjusted to the night shift (always been on days before).
    Bikerchic, I'm glad you're going back to give it another try. Just hang in there and be easy on yourself! Hope the different shift will work better for you.
  12. by   MEtheBabiesRN
    I'm glad you're hanging in there too Bikerchic. I really miss the level III NICU although I really enjoy working level II. When I quit, I was thinking "do I need this stress in my life?" I had enough going on without adding that to it. Now I am trying to get back to the States to work level III just temporarily so I can regain my skills.
  13. by   Bikerchic
    Hi Hefe, and MetheBabiesR.N.,
    I wish you luck Hefe and hope you start feeling more comfortable and confident as the days go by.
    Hi MethebabiesRN, my that screen name is long, what can I call you for short? Thanks for writing back again. It must be difficult to come to the states for training. There is no other way? Like ceu tests or neonatal books.

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