I went straight from nursing school into L&D. I am glad I did it that way, as L&D is the only specialty that interested me, and doing a year in med/surg (which I hated) would have driven me insane. It was difficult being thrown into it without experience, it is a fast paced environment, definitely not a place for a sensitive person who will take things too personally--doctors getting onto you when things don't go how they want them to (hey, they have to blame someone, after all, they are "THE doctor!") and other nurses with experience get annoyed easily when things are going quickly and you seem to be...lost. You have to consider, new job, new hospital, new grad, it's stressful. The 12 week orientation (which is what we had) is very helpful as long as you have someone who is willing to teach rather than quickly get aggravated and just do everything herself/himself. During the 11th week of the 12 week orientation is when I finally started feeling like I could circulate a delivery on my own. My advice to you (if you want it) would be, do everything in your power to learn everything you can during those twelve weeks. Because in my experience after your twelve weeks is up you're expected to perform at the level of all the other nurses on the floor. The doctors will expect it, the management will expect it, and the other nurses will as well. Request the hardest patients during your orientation because they aren't going to keep taking the preeclamptics/eclamptics, pretermers, multiples, etc. You will be expected to do it. You will learn, you'll do fine, and eventually you will start feeling competent. I still never feel "comfortable" (2 years later), but that's actually a good thing. It keeps me on my toes. Good luck--it can be done!
[This message has been edited by LDnurse (edited February 24, 2001).]