Advice needed as a new grad nurse. Considering job switch. Sorry for long post

Nurses General Nursing


Hi, I started my first nursing job in late July of 2023 at a children's hospital. I work on the unit I originally worked as a nurse extern/nursing assistant on since January of 2023. My unit is ortho/neuro/rehab, but we also get random trache and med complex patients. After completing 12 weeks of orientation, I have been on my own for 4 weeks now. The staff on my unit is really great and everyone helps each other, but I almost feel like an imposter of a nurse being among them. I feel like I am giving 150% and trying the best I can, but I am still never good enough.

I have recently made two meds errors. One where I was hanging a new secondary antibiotic bag and didn't prime the secondary tubing as I thought since I had previously used it that I didn't have to reprime it. Another was that I was giving my pt his meds which were all g-tube meds except one med which was IV, and I ended up accidentally giving it through his g-tube. Luckily no harm was done to the pts from these errors, but I understand the seriousness of them. Though inexcusable, I know from reflecting why I made the mistakes I did and how I can improve and not make these mistakes again. I was so overwhelmed and focused about giving the pt his meds on time as I was running behind schedule, and I didn't take the time to slow down with all my stress and verify all the rights of giving meds, which ultimately led to my mistake.

My biggest fear ever since starting my job as a nurse is causing harm to a pt and I think I am so overwhelmed by this fear that I am letting it affect my work performance. I am meeting with my manager tomorrow to be put on a performance plan and to be reprimanded, which is understandable as I know what I did was serious. I feel terrible about my mistakes, but I am taking 100% accountability for what I did and know it was a BIG lesson learned that will stick with me forever.

I just feel so frustrated with myself over letting these mistakes happen. My manager had called me yesterday to rightfully reprimand me and I understand why she is upset with me over my mistakes, but she then threw in some extra digs to make me feel bad about myself. She told me she didn't think I understood my pts were humans and apart of families, and gave me the impression that she thought  I didn't care about my pts or my job, which is anything but true. I know I made mistakes but it is because I care so much about my pts that I overstress. My manager then started asking me if there was anything she needed to know about my past before I started working for them, regarding my past work experiences or school, which I didn't understand why she was asking about. Though if she really wanted to know, I got good grades in school, had great past work experiences, and passed my NCLEX in 85 questions. 

My coworkers have told me that every new nurse makes mistakes and that the important thing is that no one was hurt and I am taking accountability, but I still feel terrible. I am now questioning whether my unit is the right fit or not for me. Although on average we only have 3 pts, our pts require a lot. A lot of our pts have g-tube feeds and meds, need to be repositioned and diapered every 2 hours, oral care every 4 hours, bladder scanned and cathed on a regular basis, get them ready for therapies which can be a multiple person job, NG tubes, trach ties and care, continuous IVs, etc. It can also be hard with a lot of our kids having CP or being trached and not being able to communicate with us. I know I can't be a completely horrible and unsalvageable nurse as I have had good experiences with pts before, with these pts giving me a drawing as a gift and another wanting to nominate me for a daisy award because she loved me so much. Those good moments meant a lot to me and I feel really happy when I can provide meaningful care to my pts. I love kids and had always thought pediatrics was for me, but now I am considering whether providing care to adults may be a better fit for me, as depending on the unit you are on, adults may be able to communicate better with you and there may be less g-tubes and traches.

I just feel stressed out about work 24/7. I worry about past mistakes and making future mistakes. The stress has been so bad that it has been affecting my sleep (I stay up for hours worrying and am exhausted when I am not working), my appetite has decreased, I get nauseous and irritable bowel, and feel like crying a lot of times. As you can tell I get bad anxiety and I am very tough on myself. I have always been a perfectionist, excelling in school and all my past jobs, so much so that not being at that same performance level with nursing has been really tough. I just feel like a disappointment and feel like I need a month break just to regroup myself mentally. My mom says I should feel no shame in resigning and looking for another job, as she says I need to prioritize my mental health and find the right fit for me. I just don't know whether it is worth trying to stick it out on my unit right now with how bad my stress is, or whether I should just resign. I just feel bad as I would be quitting my first nursing job after only 5 months and I don't want to put myself at a disadvantage with future employers. I just need advice on what to do and if anyone else has ever felt the same as me. I know I've made mistakes, but I want to be a good nurse. Thanks and sorry for the long post.

Specializes in School Nursing.

You're brand new and it's perfectly normal to feel unsure of yourself. I can tell by your post you're very caring and are taking responsibility for your mistakes. I think your manager asking about your 'past and work history' in that way was very inappropriate. I feel like all new nurses experience this anxiety.  Give yourself some grace. 

Specializes in Emergency Dept.

It might just take time. Sometimes our mistakes teach us lessons that we never forget & we don't repeat them. You're new, so it's normal to feel anxious & not good enough often times, but if you decide to stick with it, I bet in about a year you'll see it starting to come together. I started as a new grad in a busy ER and wanted to quit every day. I felt stupid and literally like I had no idea what I was doing. I found some friends & mentors there who helped. In about a years time, a small, dim light bulb began to light up in my head, and I ended up working ER for the better part of 15 years. I could look back at each successive year and see how much I had learned and grown. You might feel inadequate now, but I bet if you keep trying & keep learning, you'll become a rock star. 

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