a cup of comfort would be nice

Specialties Med-Surg


This is my 6th wk orienting.. I'm new to med surg no exp whatsoever so compared to the other nurses on the floor I'm slow.. I was so excited when I got the job but now I'm having doubts.. I feel so badly preceptor makes me feel that I'm dumb because I forget somethings here and there.. she's so strict it makes me nervous I'm even afraid to ask her questions because she might say somethig that will frustrate me even more.. one nurse told me that "we've been doing this for a while that they probably forgot what it feels like to be in your shoes that's why some of them look down on u and are mean"

Specializes in MICU - CCRN, IR, Vascular Surgery.

If you weren't having doubts at 6 weeks in, it'd be scary. I started as a new grad on Med/Surg last June and it was flat out terrifying, even though I'd already worked on that floor as a tech and knew everyone. I had great grades in school, could ace tests right and left. But once I actually started working as an RN I'd get so nervous I'd almost throw up every day, and once, right before leaving orientation, I had such an overwhelming assignment at the beginning of the night, I started to hyperventilate so badly that I almost passed out.

Pretty much the first 3 months of being on the floor my anxiety got so bad that I had a meltdown at the nurse's station one night and actually ended up getting yelled at over it. I thought that I hated being a nurse, but when I really thought about it, I hated how insecure I felt. About 6 months in, things really did start to get better. And now at 1 year out, I'd never presume to know everything, and I still ask a lot of questions, but I feel a lot more confident.

It sucks now, and everyone goes through it, but I promise it WILL get better!

Specializes in PICU, Sedation/Radiology, PACU.

Here's the thing about strict preceptors- they might seem mean, but more than likely your preceptor is trying to get you to think for yourself and function independently. Rather than answering all your questions for you, your preceptors wants you to learn to think critically and find the answers on your own.

What kinds of questions are you asking? Are you asking mostly "yes or no", "what" and "how" questions? (Such as, "Are these lab results normal?" "What is this medication for?" or "How do I insert a foley?") Strict preceptors tend to respond more harshly to these types of questions, when the answer can be found by looking in a resource like a medication reference or relates to a skill that you should know as a nurse. However, they love to answer "why" questions. ("Why are we concerned about low potassium in this patient?" "Why do we still give a beta-blocker before surgery?")

Before you ask your preceptor a question, ask yourself this: 1. What do I already know about this subject? and 2. Where can I find the information for myself before I ask? If you need supervision or guidance on a task, explain what you know first and then ask what you're missing. Example: Instead of saying, "How do I change this colostomy bag?" say, "I know to change this ostomy I need a new appliance, skin prep, gauze, saline and clean gloves. First I'm going to remove the old appliance and clean the area with gauze and saline. Then I'll assess it for color, redness, moisture and skin breakdown. Then I'll apply the skin prep, let it dry, and place the new appliance. Am I forgetting anything?" Then this would be a great time for your preceptor to remind you that you'll also need scissors to cut the new appliance to size.

See the difference in those two situations? In the first you're just asking how to do it, without putting any thought into it yourself. In the second, you can show your preceptor that you're competent in the skill and have thought it out while still making sure you're covering all your bases.

As far as forgetting things, how are you organizing yourself? Are you taking notes during report? Making a brain sheet with pertinent patient information? Writing a schedule of your shift and noting when meds are due, dressings need to be changed, labs need to be drawn, etc? Rather than getting frustrated, ask your preceptor for some practical tips about how to better organize yourself so you don't forget things. Ask her how she remembers everything.

It's normal to be unsure and doubtful as a new graduate only 6 weeks into the job. But try not to turn your preceptor into a big stressor. You might want a preceptor who will be sweet and patiently answer your questions and give you lots of compliments. But as nurse trying to learn to practice independently, that's probably not what you need. You need someone who will force you to think for yourself, who will tell you when you've forgotten something and not make light of it- but make sure you will remember it the next time. This preceptor may seem harsh, but she's probably exactly what you need to learn to do this job on your own. Learn from her, even when she is frustrating. Remember that very few people are downright mean. She's probably precepting you the same way that she was precepted in the past, or even the way that she wishes she were precepted. Hang in there, and make the best of this opportunity.

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