Anyone had serious doubts...about nursing and about self?

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    Doubts that went to your core and haunted you relentlessly through nursing school about whether this was what you were really meant to do? So much so that you said, "Well, if I'm in THIS much doubt it can't be right!" But you just kept going b/c you didn't know what else to do, and you were invested in it, and you didn't want to let people down? Were there other things you KNEW you were better at, had more affinity for, but you desperately needed the job? Did it just all seem so complicated?

    Anyone have doubts like that in nursing school, but just kept going anyway? And now you have survived becoming a nurse and years later, still love it?

    PS. It's not patient care that I feel funny with. It's Nursing Culture (perfect!! SuperNurse!! Achieve!! BetterBetter Best!) and feeling like I don't fit into it..I'm artistic and introverted and very deep. It all seems more like an extrovert's game. Is this just nursing school?
    I do like patient care.

    Happy nurses: do any of you see yourself in me?

    It's not just about becoming trained so I can get a "job." My decision to do this was the product of some profound spiritual logic in the center of my soul that took many years to unfold. Yes, the status of the professional role appeals to me, but the BS of it repels me. And more importantly, underneath all that, I associate nursing with service and humility, bordering on religiousity... and the hyper-reality of--(...god?...). Which is what I think my deepest self is after.... It IS complicated for me. Strong egos are rewarded in thenursing school environment. Maybe the nursing school experience is forcing me to confront my ego? I feel so invisible, so my former job, which I was very good at, my ego was absolutely fed. Comfort zone all the way... Yeah, this IS therapy stuff, I know...but I want to hear from nurses.

    What do y'all say? Hold the snark, b/c it is really scary to ask this.
    Last edit by Joe V on Sep 19, '12
    ontheway84, poppycat, VivaLasViejas, and 4 others like this.

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  2. 34 Comments...

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    Hi, I've been a nurse for six years. Like you, I'm an introvert's introvert, and I also connect nursing strongly with religious feelings. My doubts about nursing didn't come in school, but after I'd been on the floor for a few years. The complications of doubting my calling vs. needing a job and not wanting to let my family down -- I've been there. For a while I was desperate to leave the profession forever, but I stuck it out, and the doubts passed. Today I can honestly say I made the right choice to become a nurse.

    I do know that nursing school by its very nature makes you feel insecure and incompetent. There were lots of times I had to force myself to get through a clinical day; it was tough just walking in and talking to people. For me, that faded with time, as I got out on the floor and learned a little more about what I was doing. So (and I'm sorry if this sounds hollow) just give yourself time to learn and don't put pressure on yourself to do everything absolutely perfectly. You'll hit your stride once you hit the floor, if you pick a good place to work.

    As for the Supernurse culture -- forget it. A lot of it is just management trying to get their patient satisfaction scores up. You can't do everything at once, you can't fix people who refuse to be fixed, and you cannot be all things to all men. For a while I struggled with a great deal of guilt because I couldn't be the perfect nurse, until I learned that it isn't our job as nurses to be perfect. Our job is to be the best nurses we can be, using the unique talents and outlooks that are ours. The textbook "angel nurse" has never existed.

    You're right that the nursing field, especially school, is complicated. And there is a lot of false cheer and hollow concern (especially from management); but there is also a solid core to this profession, a wholesome heart that makes it a thing worth doing. If you really feel drawn to this and know it's what you want to do, you will be the nurse a lot of hospitals and patients are looking for. We introverts excel at listening, which is exactly what a lot of scared, nervous people in the hospital need more than anything.

    Easy for me to say? Yes, because I'm not in your exact shoes. But I can identify with a lot of what you're saying, and a lot of what I posted I had to learn the hard way. Treat yourself gently -- this is a big project, becoming a nurse! Stay well, and please don't give up on yourself.
    Last edit by Clementia on Sep 19, '12 : Reason: refining thoughts
    Race Mom, roughmatch, GrnTea, and 2 others like this.
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    ....smiling....yeah, I actually am a good listener, haha!
    The textbook angel nurse--I think that's where some of my angst comes from--the textbooks. It's not that I feel the instructors expect us to be perfect, they sure aren't. Their structure, their presentation, is dynamic, sometimes chaotic and messy, very passionate and heartfelt, and extremely IS the books. So dry and repetetive, and EVERYTHING is in there. Fire safety in the patient's home? Really? Come on, is that my job? The book, the nursing fundamentals text, the BIG book, its content, its language, does make the inference that the nurse IS all things to ALL people.
    I do like nursing---NURSING, I mean. Taking care of people. One of the best things I've done so far was wash a homeless guy's cruddy feet, he so desperately needed that care, who knows when was the last time he had some caring human touch. And I got a great deal of satisfaction out of that.
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    Quote from zephyr9
    It's not just about becoming trained so I can get a "job." My decision to do this was the product of some profound spiritual logic in the center of my soul that took many years to unfold. Yes, the status of the professional role appeals to me, but the BS of it repels me. And more importantly, underneath all that, I associate nursing with service and humility, bordering on religiousity... and the hyper-reality of--(...god?...). Which is what I think my deepest self is after.... It IS complicated for me. Strong egos are rewarded in thenursing school environment.
    Just a couple of thoughts coming from an introverted nurse:
    • Totally my opinion - I think people are called to serve in ways that maximize their potential & highlight their spiritual gifts. I don't think people are called to do things they hate doing either. Is it really serving if your heart isn't in it?
    • Once you're out of school, you may find that you wish you fellow nurses would try a little harder to perform. The competition dies down - believe me.
    • You are entering a field with so many specialties and environments from which to choose to work! You may easily find your niche & a desirable work setting in something you haven't even considered yet. Nursing has many options, and there are places for introverts. Check out this thread:
    Some random quotes you may like:
    “Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” ~Buddha
    “Good duties must not be pressed and beaten out of us, as the waters came out of a rock when Moses smote it with his rod; but must freely drop from us, as myrrh from the tree, or honey from the comb.” ~ Thomas Watson
    Nightingallow, poppycat, GrnTea, and 2 others like this.
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    I know that's what the book says -- that EVERYTHING is our responsibility as nurses. Well, in the real world, it isn't. You do what you can realistically do, and let the rest go. It sounds mean, but in the long run, patients have to be responsible for their own lives. The textbook is a starting point. You have to learn real nursing by doing it -- like washing somebody's feet. That's nursing as it should be.
    poppycat and zephyr9 like this.
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    I don't consider myself a spiritual person (but enjoy reading some posts in this section regardless) but I can relate to your feelings about nursing school culture.

    Schools definitely rewards those with aggressive self-promotion. I didn't like it but went along with it. Based on my prior bedside nursing experience before RN program, I knew there was a niche somewhere for me -- not much of a leadership material that my school seemed to try so hard to mold us into, but nonetheless very fond of hands-on patient care.

    I truly believe that your deep, introspective nature is a great asset for a nurse and patients will appreciate that. I have no doubt you will find a place in nursing where you can thrive.
    Nightingallow, poppycat, zephyr9, and 1 other like this.
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    I had constant doubts in nursing school. I excelled at everything in school, so hung on thinking I must do this since I am doing ok at it right?! I have been a nurse for 9 years and am looking to get out...I never really found my place...I am still looking for my place...???

    I say, go with your is usually right!!
    whichone'spink likes this.
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    Let me start by saying this, the medical field, in of itself, is chuck full of egos. It's not just nursing.

    With that said, I know exactly what you mean about big egos being rewarded in nursing school. I used to think getting into nursing school was competitive, then I got in and realized where the competition really is. I remember a group of about 5 nursing students in my class that we all had mixed emotions about: envy, distain, disgust, admiration, a want to be just like them... you name the emotion, the vast majority of the class had it. They all had the professors/instructors fooled into thinking they were all that and a bag of chips, and in a lot of ways, they were. No one was ever critical of their achievements, it was the "I'm great and I know it" attitude that was often followed with the "you're beneath me" tone that bothered everyone. We all worked hard in school, ALL OF US. We were all nursing students after the same goal. We were all in this together. I remember one day sitting at a table in the library with my study group, next to their table. The fab 5 were known for their incredible notes. One member of my study group, that day, asked to be a part of theirs for this one upcoming test. It was a big midterm and for this particular student, it was do or die time. We were helping her as much as we could but she wanted more help and asked the fab 5. If she didn't pass this exam, she would be out of the program. I remember her asking them if she could sit in on one of their study sessions. I clearly remember all of our faces when they almost unanimously (sp?) responded with a resounding "NO WAY!!!!". I don't know if we thought we should laugh, cry, or be indifferent. We were in shock and at first thought they were kidding, but, they weren't. Well thankfully, my study group partner went on to take the midterm and passed by the skin of her teeth, but she passed and I am happy to say it is nearly 5 years later and she is a phenomenal nurse who was just going through a rough time during that very last semester of nursing school. So close to graduation and having to worry about failing out, scary stuff! But it all ended well for her.

    So why am I telling you this? Because later that day, myself along with a couple other students over heard the fab 5 talking about how they don't share their notes or allow anyone else in their study group because they felt they were decreasing the competition and opening up their own playing field when it came to finding a job. No joke, they actually said the words "the more people who flunk out, the less that are out there looking for jobs". WOW!!! Was all I could say! It was like the cherry on top of a very old sundae that no one wanted anymore. It was 2 very long years of egos, backstabbing, competition and all that. But there were so many great times too! It was my experience that you became closest with your clinical group and they became your family who always had your back. If you needed another IM injection or something like that, a member of your clinical "family" would be ready to offer their's up to you if they've already done it a few times. Things like that kept you going. But we all also witnessed the ugly in nursing school. And it wasn't just your fellow students, it could be instructors, the nurses on the units you would be assigned to.

    The moral of the story is that the nursing profession can be very cut throat, very caddy, very, do I dare say... UNPROFESSIONAL. I wanted to be a nurse my entire life and finally got to do it as a career change later in life. I came from management in the corporate world after a lay off and I thought big business was cut throat... it doesn't even hold a card to nursing. But we have all been there. All of us!

    A couple of times while in school I questioned if I really wanted to do this. But that was more of the stress and having no social life what so ever talking. When I came out of school I was one of the fortunate ones who got a job right away. I kept my options open. As much as I wanted to work in a hospital I put my resume out at LTC facilities too. I passed my NCLEX July 3rd and started my job on July 16th. And guess what, I HATED IT!!!!!!!! I dreaded going to work every single day I was scheduled. I started to get sick to my stomach and by the time I got to work my nerves were shot and I would usually cry all the way home. Nurses ate their young for breakfast, lunch, dinner and frequently snacked on them at this facility. It was awful. But I plugged away and gave it my year and then got a job as a med/surg nurse at a local hospital. And guess what, at first, it was great, everyone was great! I loved it! But I often heard the murmors about the nurse manager and how so and so is on her poop list and that's not where you want to be... but I didn't let it affect me, until, I ended up on that poop list and it was horrible... She almost killed my love for nursing and almost caused me to hate the nursing profession and I almost walked away from nursing all together because of her. But, I gave it one more try and got a new job at a different hospital and I'm happy to say I have been there almost 4 years and I love it. It is my dream job. Great management who supports their nurses, great nurses who are eager to learn and teach when the students come in, and we truly work as a team.

    Moral of this part of the story is, hang in there. Your niche will come. We all have those moments/thoughts of "is this really for me?" or "did I make a huge mistake?". Self doubt is a beast that you just have to learn to control or it will eat you alive. Nursing is not for the weak of heart. Its a tough, stressful job. You are not expected to be great or perfect right out of the gate. You are going to go through those self doubting emotions a thousand times before you find that niche I spoke of. Its a natural progression.

    Hang in there and you will do great. Good luck with your future endeavors!
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    I very much relate to this post as i feel the same way. It is actually quite a relief to see someone else feels this way. In nursing school i did very well but had doubts everyday, i would think to myself " if i am doing this well then it must be what i am ment to do right?" I handled the egos by keeping mostly to myself, there were a few of us that stuck together and helped each other out and it worked for us. once i got out in the field it was the same thing all the dam egos.I really cannot figure it out, we as nurses are taught to care for human lives and to teach, we require a healthy compassion towards the human race why the world are we so mean and ugly to each other? I struggle everyday with the "self-doubt beast" but i think that maybe i just have not found my niche and i think you will too if you just hang in there, you have worked so hard and u seem to have a wonderful sense of compassion u can do this ...deep breath
    zephyr9 likes this.
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    Quote from zephyr9
    do any of you see yourself in me?

    I could have written your post word for word.
    There is an aggressiveness, assertiveness and a competitiveness that is completely foreign to me.

    I am Robin-- not Batman.
    GeneralJinjur, Kashia, and hudabelle like this.

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