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masonicusRN masonicusRN (New Member) New Member

Any advice for a new grad trying to stay afloat?

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A while ago, I posted on here about choosing which area to work. You all were very helpful, so now I'm back.

Don't get me wrong. I am extremely glad I chose to work where I did. There is pretty much no incidence of older nurses eating their young and I'm supremely grateful for that. But I feel like I'm drowning. I really do not feel like I am doing a lot with my life, but somehow I still have no social life and I do not have the energy to go to the gym. Self care is minimal and I have lost friendships, as well as a potential relationship due to time demands. I've been off orientation for a couple months now.

There are several factors that go into this --

1) I am doing online RN-BSN courses that are more demanding than I thought. I am about to have a 76 average in a leadership class because of one final paper that I wrote with a group of other RNs that just did not come together as planned. I'm disappointed.

2) I have a mentorship program at work that is a required 6 month commitment with social events like luncheons. They are once a month, with one experienced RN mentor assigned to a group of 5-6 new grads. It can be helpful and nice, but if you don't go they make you sign some kind of paper and talk to your manager. The first two events have been at 10-11 AM when I work the night before. As far as speaking to this mentor about my situation, talking about all this in person feels wrong. It's worth mentioning that I'm pretty stoic and don't talk about feelings a lot. I might not even post this.

3) Typical new grad RN work stress? Maybe you remember feeling this way your first year. Is this normal? I feel as if I am always making mistakes. I was 30 minutes late to a shift three weeks ago and I cannot forgive myself about it. Twice I missed retaking vital signs when there is a blood pressure outside normal range. I am not comfortable drawing blood, transfusing blood or starting Foleys just yet although I have the competency to. (I know blood requires dual sign off--I mean setting up the tubing, doing the monitoring etc. on my own). I get nervous to talk to the on-call providers (mid levels, usually). I have to ask for help 2-5 times per shift from the charge RN or my coworkers. I am not afraid to ask for help, but I think my requests might be excessive. I lose sleep thinking about these things.

Should I have stayed on orientation longer? Do I need to just suck it up? Am I not cut out for this? Please be honest with me.

This is, or was, my dream. Graduating and passing the NCLEX were among the proudest moments of my life. I felt like I was finally taking steps in the right direction. Now I don't know.

If you got this far, thanks for reading.

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I read every word. Everything's okay.

**

[The meetings with required attendance at 10 or 11 a.m. are rude; they always have been. I'd just get through it, although it wouldn't be wrong to suggest that it might be fun to change it up and have a breakfast meeting a time or two. If they don't take your suggestion...meh...you have 4 more of these left.]

Everything you have mentioned in #3 is okay. It's all going to come together. You have to stop perseverating on it; probably that alone is making everything in your life more difficult. It's no good if you can't rest and relax and do a few things you enjoy. You didn't write anything that is worrisome or out of the ordinary for a new grad - - none of it! Not in the least. This is simply a major life transition and you have to give yourself a break.

You sound like someone who has some decent expectations for yourself/your performance and that is good within reason, but becomes problematic when people spend any significant amount of time internally berating themselves simply for being on a learning curve. Think of it this way....all the time you've spent worrying about a couple of blood pressures and a few skills you haven't perfected yet, is time that you couldn't devote to more productive and positive thoughts.

It's all okay. Just hang in there. You can do it.

:up:

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Suggest that the meetings happen at 10 at night. It's important to let it be known how miserable it is to be required to appear in what might be your normal sleep time. I think the last four meetings should be held at night.

Everything else - sounds like you are doing fine and will likely be a great nurse soon enough.

late once? Good gravy, darling. Get over it! Don't repeat it if you can help it, but you are not Superwoman. You are going to be late once in a great while.

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I cracked up at the superwoman comment--I'm a guy. But the sentiment is totally right. I had a friend in nursing school who would tell me all the time, "you're not Superman". The charge nurse laughed when I was late and told me don't worry, it will probably be 10 years before I am late again. I do have really high expectations of myself, which makes me good at what I do but can be to my detriment also.

I'm just mad about the leadership grade because I had an A+ before this. The final paper was to be a manager interview. I conducted and transcribed the interview, then trusted 4 other group members (all RN's, professionals) to write the paper since I did 90% of the prepwork. I thought, "what a great group. They wrote and submitted the paper on time!" Turns out they earned us a 60 on it. If it taught me anything, it's that laissez-faire leadership does not work at all for me. Not to place the blame on others; I should have edited more.

I think they finally learned that most of us new grads are night shifters and the rest of the gatherings are at 8 AM or late in the afternoon.

Thanks for the responses so far.

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You are doing great. I was a nervous wreck my first year on the floor. One memorable experience: Early on I had a patient bleed from her needle insertion sites post treatment (dialysis). Blood was dripping down her arm onto the floor and I just gawked until one of the techs yelled at me to grab some gloves and apply pressure. Very quickly I got used to seeing a lot of blood and was able to respond appropriately.

That first year I woke up everyday thinking it was the day I would harm someone, forget a med, be late, get yelled at. It gets better, truly. I've seen it said a lot here on AN, it's better to ask questions if you're unsure than to proceed and potentially harm your patient. Your coworkers were new nurses once too, most of them understand your anxiety.

The best that you can do is keep learning and adapting your practice, but don't be afraid to try. Maybe you don't feel comfortable drawing blood and inserting foleys, but I would encourage you to do it with assistance from another nurse. If you don't practice, you'll never feel comfortable.

I know not one nurse who felt sure of her/himself the first year. I would be very wary of that person. One day you'll be there to encourage and support a new nurse and you'll look back and realize how far you've come.

Give yourself grace and make sure you have some solid self care habits in place. I too found it hard to go to the gym consistently, but every bit helps. I started doing a short yoga practice at home before bed, taking quiet walks outside on my days off, 5 minute meditations before work, talking to friends from nursing school about their experiences as a new grad.

You've got this!

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I'm just mad about the leadership grade because I had an A+ before this. The final paper was to be a manager interview. I conducted and transcribed the interview, then trusted 4 other group members (all RN's, professionals) to write the paper since I did 90% of the prepwork. I thought, "what a great group. They wrote and submitted the paper on time!" Turns out they earned us a 60 on it. If it taught me anything, it's that laissez-faire leadership does not work at all for me. Not to place the blame on others; I should have edited more.

That'll teach you to always make sure there is a process for final review included in whatever project you're doing, and to sign up for whatever else you're doing plus the role of final reviewer.

Personally I would contact the professor about it. I understand their thinking behind assigning groupwork assignments but this isn't a project people are being paid to do at work - there's a twist, which is that the students are paying to participate and ultimately aren't in control of what others do. Everyone should be graded on the merits of the work they performed.

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And a 76 in leadership is fine, don't be so hard on yourself !

What?? ;)

No way.

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You are way too hard on yourself. Remember that most nurses felt the way that you are feeling when they were new grads. It is good that you have a conscience, but try and learn to let some things go.

When I was in nursing school - a lonnnngggggg time ago, we were told on the first day to choose one or two things that we would not give up in our personal life and make those our priorities. We were told that we couldn't do everything, that family was the most important and then school. My two things were dinner every night with family (even if it was take out or delivery pizza), and having Friday nights off from any studying or thinking of school. Maybe you should do this. What do you love to do? Go for a walk, out for a beer, go to the gym, read for pleasure, watch a movie? If you take some time for your self you will find that it actually lowers your stress level and refreshes you.

You are going to be fine. Look around at some of the nurses you work with - wouldn't you rather be taking care of some of the patients than having them do it? You know the kind - lazy, not compassionate, apathetic. Know that you are doing a better job than some experienced nurses and hang in there!

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From reading your post I think you are doing fine. First, you found a job that sounds like it is trying to support it's new employees. Even though the timing of the meetings is suboptimal you have an identified mentor and your employer is at least trying. Second, work is definitely a crimp on your social life. I hate it when work interferes with my social calendar, but I hate being homeless more. Third, you are overachieving doing your RN > BSN in your first year of practice. I am actually impressed you are managing to pull it off up to this point. Don't worry, your friends will still be around when you finish your program and have more time. Relationships come and go, cest la vie. Tough it out for a few more months, and you'll be done the new grad program, and your BSN and then you will have some spare time.

Attaboy! Good work! Stay strong (but not Lance Armstrong strong)!

Cheers

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Just breathe, man. Everything is normal. Everyone has been exactly where you are right now.

Your BSN isn't lifelong- you will eventually finish. Eat that less-than-ideal-score because what you've now learned the magic of group work and how to deal with it next time: Trust but verify.

Schedule a little social life. Schedule a little extra sleep. Schedule "me time." Or else you are looking at burn out. Maybe there isn't room for a romantic relationship right now, but there will be in the future. This too shall pass and you'll be content when looking back.

Suck up the once a month mentorship meeting and get them over with. Get what you can out of them and move on. Only four left.

It's your first year of nursing. It's going to be challenging. It will get better as long as you keep at it. Read and know your institutions policies, form good habits now so they will last your career. Master less intense things such as medication administration and work your way up to more difficult tasks. Learn from mistakes and forgive yourself for them. You will get more comfortable talking with providers- every conversation is an opportunity to learn something.

It's ok if you need help. Make sure you ask for it before mucking something up, but also make sure you have used all your resources first, or at least try to find the answer (emergencies notwithstanding) There is nothing worse than a lazy coworker asking for help or answers they can easily find for themselves, either in policy or other work related literature- it's always the same people.

Lastly, leave work at work. You're not superhuman. You're developing a career. It takes time, Padawan.

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I read your entry. I am 27 years out of nursing school and I've been where you are twice. Once when I first got out of nursing school, of course. I was terrified and tasks that I was very capable of undertaking I screwed up on, simply because of the emotions associated with being so young and new. It was awful and I got out of beside nursing quickly, before I ever solidified my skills and experience. That was a mistake. That experience is the foundation for the rest of your career and it will shape where you can go, what you can do and the jobs you can apply for if you have a seamless career. I didn't have a seamless career. I had some interruptions.

Now, I'm where you are again, just 22 years later. And it's a completely different experience. The work is still very hard and at the end of a shift I am exhausted. The difference is me. Somewhere along the road I learned how to be human and kind to myself, not just my patients. And until they replace nurses with robots, I am going to continue to be human and have human limitations. I am learning again, I ask questions constantly and I rotate the people I ask the questions of. Believe me when I tell you that that charge nurse is glad you are there, because if you weren't she'd have your patients and there would be no charge nurse.

Last night I hit a food cart with the computer rolly things and I was actually looking where I was going. It was like being on the interstate. The food people parked it smack dab in the middle of the hallway and BOOM. I did not care. I kept going. I identified a patient going bad and neither my preceptor nor the doctor listened to me, so what happens? An emergency... It worked out though. I still have it, I just let the fear go. Fear interferes with my radar and it makes me 'forget,' once I lost the fear of being human I was able to focus. I refer to the healthy fear everyone speaks of as cautiousness and watchfulness. That's a tool, I don't want to lose that. It's not paralyzing the same way as unhealthy fear is though.

I am not in school right now, but I expect I will be soon. I don't think I would've signed up this soon in, as you have. See how it goes, if you feel you need to postpone it for a year, forgive yourself for being human and focus on getting your feet beneath you. It's going to work out if you don't give up.

Best wishes

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