Hi everyone, I think this is probably something that a lot of prospective RNs think and wonder about, so I wanted to provide my own experience.
I went into a 2 year ADN program with zero experience in any kind of medical field. I did great (and still am, I graduate in december) in lab and on exams, but I was severely lacking in clinical skills for a long time. I simply didn't know how to be confident around patients, and it harmed my ability to be good at clinical to a huge degree.
I wasn't confident and not only did the preceptors and instructors know it, the patients picked up on this fact so quickly it would make your head spin. It's humiliating to know that you have lost all of your patient's respect and can do nothing to get it back.
It's not all bad, though. I eventually learned about the procedures, supplies, devices, and workflows that hospitals rely on, and I got better - much better. As much as my "nursing knowledge" grew, however, there was still something missing - I wasn't good with patients.
I don't mean that I couldn't talk to them. I had NO problem building a verbal rapport with just about anybody. What I mean is that I was obviously and consistently timid whenever I would get near a patient's body. This really hurt my ability to perform any procedures and even to do simple things like toilet somebody, change their diaper, or perform a basic head to toe.
For me, the magic bullet was taking a job as a long term care CNA. I know - LTC is horrible and CNA work is especially demoralizing when we're talking about assisted living facilities. For me, though, it was exactly the trial by fire that I needed. The constant patient contact was a breakthrough for me and I now have a confidence that I never had before. I can see patients respecting me in a way that they NEVER would have before.
So maybe we should all think before we apply one-size-fits-all advice to questions on this forum. What worked for me (I'm still at the ALF working as a CNA and loving it despite the brutally hard work) might not work for you, and what might not work for some may work for you.
Think hard about your weaknesses, guys. I'm living proof positive that the best way to overcome your greatest weaknesses is constant hard work. Pound at that weakness until it becomes a strength. For me, the tears were worth it and will pay off for the rest of my life.
Last edit by The_Muffintime on Aug 8
Thanks, Simplistic. I do want to add that this job is helping me by showing me exactly what I *don't* want to be doing after I graduate.
Also, it's probably worth mentioning that my friends/colleagues and also my instructor (whom I had both Med-Surg 1 and now Med-Surg 2) have noticed this change. My favorite reaction was the teacher's observation: "What happened to you? In the six months since we finished Med-Surg you went from being an apprehensive nursing student in there to carrying yourself like a true professional. Keep it up."
That kind of positive reinforcement is worth its weight in gold and can be the thing that keeps you going during those times that you feel like it's just too much. I don't think I need to inform anybody here of that fact!
The more I learn the more I understand just how ignorant I am of *everything*. It would be terrifying if *everybody* didn't tell me that's how they felt.