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Anxiety and Lab Performance

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koverton5 koverton5 (New) New

I am currently a nursing student in my first semester. While fundamentals class is going swell, I am having issues with fundamentals' lab section. I should mention that my other courses are also going well, even clinical. This seems to be only a lab issue. I have been experiencing recent heightened anxiety outside of school and it has started to affect my performance during skills checkoffs. I practice outside of school and with my classmates during class, however when it comes time for the skills test I sometimes severely panic. I'm not talking about just worrying, but worrying to point of tears if I happen to make the simplest mistake. I always catch the mistake, however I can't seem to calm down enough to continue without making another mistake. It often ends up creating a snowball effect that ultimately leads to a panic attack. Breathing techniques aren't really working anymore to calm my nerves. My grade is starting to really suffer and I'm now worried that I may fluke this course. I overall feel disappointed in myself. I'm beginning to wonder, if I can't get over the anxiety during checkoffs, am I even cut out for nursing? :( I know it's a high pressure work environment. I really want to do the best that I can.

*I'd like add that I actually like clinical. I'm a bit awkward and anxious due to lack of experience, but I can get into the groove of things rather quickly. Performing skills during clinical doesn't terrify me as much as during lab. *

I'm looking for genuine advice. Is nursing not for people with anxiety? Any recommendations on what to do about the situation? If someone has experienced the same problem, I'd love to hear how you managed.

I greatly appreciate it! Thanks

I am in the same boat as you. Still in first semester as well. I just completed my lest check off today. I was diagnose with general anxiety disorder with panic attacks. there is something about being one on one with the professor just staring at you almost waiting for you to make a mistake. I started talking to myself during check off. I say outloud what I am doing and it seems to keep me grounded. I actually don't even acknowledge that my professor is there. It seems to help along with breathing exercises before the check off. And after a few check offs, I have realized I am going to make mistakes. There is no way around that. But I have been able to not let it effect my day. I say thank you for the advice and let it go!

I totally feel your pain...I deal with anxiety (although I've been able to control it decently so far) but I get so flustered and anxious....my blood pressure goes through the roof and I can't think straight.....I get short of breath...and just stress completely out during check offs....in the practice lab and clinical situation I am fine...check offs are terrible. Luckily our professors are really great....They try to be as helpful/supportive as possible.....I too talk my way through it.....If I talk through step by step I know I will be ok. Deep breathing and talking about what I'm doing help keep me focused....I also always sign up for the first check off slot (we do time slots)....the more time I have to wait/think about it the more anxious I get

I think that you will be ok....I don't think that you need to give up nursing because of anxiety...especially when you are ok in the clinical setting....just try to get a grasp on the anxiety....find a way to push through it.....You definitely are NOT alone....you just have to find a way to manage it that works for you

LoriRNCM, ADN, ASN, RN

Specializes in Hospice. Has 3 years experience.

My lab group still feels this way during SIM labs, even though we aren't doing skills check offs anymore in fourth semester. Your skills check off will become scenarios where you have to be the nurse on SIM man, and the pressure is still pretty intense even though we have been doing it for a long time. I think it is strictly performance anxiety, because it is basically a performance, in front of your peers and your instructor. It's totally different in clinical on a real patient. So don't think it means you are incompetent.