Career guidance on new grad med-surg RN

Nurses Career Support


How do you decide if it is normal or standard for a new RN to feel like this? I was an LPN for 3 years in nursing homes. The last year I worked for a staffing agency. I decided to go back to school to become an RN. I never liked the idea of stagnating in the nursing home setting. Being 23 at the time (26 now), I was always encouraged to Do It Now! before 10-20 years go by. Older LPNs have even told me this, and I'm pretty happy I did. I moved to a mid-sized city and took a $15 an hour pay-cut to take my first job as an RN in a level 1 trauma center hospital. 

I got a job on a general medicine unit and kind of regret it. I have completed 2 weeks off orientation and sometimes feel like I regret taking this job. I can understand why general medicine has a bad reputation. However, I took this position to gain more critical thinking skills and learn more skills overall. For example, I'm becoming better at peripheral blood draws because the floor nurse draws them nightly. Our patients have more peripheral IVs than central lines.

However I don't feel like I'm adjusting to either day or night shift and I continued to feel pretty dissatisfied only working these hours. The overall lack of management and how overwhelming this unit is doesn't help. One nurse has 6 patients. 2 will be confused and in restraints, one will be an acute cirrhosis patient, 1 will be on an acute withdrawal q4 hourly assessment, and another 2 will be here for medical management for a disease I've never came across before, such as Olmsted syndrome or an arterial occlusion with necrotic feet. This is a pretty typical assignment on my unit and many patients come from outside hospitals. 

On one hand this is a very conductive learning environment by being exposed to so many things I've never been exposed to. On the other hand, both days and nights are equally dreadful and I cant help but wonder if it is normal to switch to a different department for the hours.

I've spoken to more experienced nurses from all departments who have said that my problems feeling overwhelmed and the difficulty adjusting are very normal for a new nurse. I'm starting to dread staying up all night to go to work tomorrow night at 7PM. The daylight shifts I've had during orientation were absolutely dreadful and too chaotic for me to handle. 

In the nursing homes, I became VERY comfortable working 3-11. It was a bit lonely at times working this schedule 5 days a week but I got to this point where I was SO comfortable doing it. I became SO comfortable working my previous job that I was not in a rush to get a hospital job even though it has helped me learn more than those years in a nursing home.

I ask myself if this is arguably normal for an LPN-RN to struggle so much with this, and that I should suck it up because "Welcome to nursing" and give it more time. Or if I should consider switching to the Emergency Department for the availability for working 11a-11p or 2p to 2a. There is also the option of getting enough experience to work for a staffing agency again and find "mid" shifts on med-surge floors. 

Ultimately, I don't know what my specialty is or what kind of nursing I want to be in. Is this for lack of a better word "normal" for a new LPN-RN? Have you struggled a lot without the afternoon 12 hour shift? Sometimes I feel like I could just stop showing up to work but I'd have to pay back my sign-on bonus. 

You know something is negatively affecting you when you regret taking a $10,000 sign on bonus. 

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