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Dealing with guilt

Stress 101   (516 Views 4 Comments)
by RN8903 RN8903 (New) New Nurse

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I've been a nurse for 9 months now. I try very hard to do things by the book. My coworkers probably think I'm OCD. For example, if I go into an isolation room without my gown, and am afraid I might have touched something, I might wear the isolation gown in all rooms for the rest of the shift.

That said, sometimes I don't do things by the book. In these cases, I often become afraid I've given my patient some sort of infection and get really bad guilt. I don't have good coping mechanisms. For example, one time I drew blood and wasn't sure if the vein I stuck was the vein I cleaned. I brought a butterfly home and stuck it into my own vein without scrubbing with alcohol just to make sure the patient/me can turn out OK. I've drawn my own blood for such reasons at least 3 times this year.

I know I'm not the only one who occasionally cuts corners (haven't most people not scrubbed the hub after a flush but before attaching the IV bag?). How does everyone else deal cutting corners with a patient's health at stake? I find it hard to just forget it...

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11 Followers; 3,601 Posts; 26,427 Profile Views

Hello @RN8903 -

Two things. First, try very hard not to cut corners. Don't let yourself become so pressured that you don't feel like you can do things the right way.

Next, it sounds like you are struggling with your thought processes related to some of these items. If you have concerns that your thoughts or behaviors might not be healthy it would be a good idea to talk to your health care provider about it.

Take care ~

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553 Posts; 10,649 Profile Views

@RN8903 you're a nurse of 9 months. To me it sounds like you may be going through a bit of new grad RN stuff. 

I would agree with JKL33 about not cutting corners. I worked in hematology so if I didn't uphold infection control, such as scrubbing hubs, etc., I could have likely killed my patients--can't see those nasty bugs and my patients had zero immunity. I was not willing to take the chance. It was a pain in the behind, for sure, but it eventually became routine.

It sounds like your behaviour bothers you so I would suggest working on not cutting corners. Our work is already stressful enough so to add on another element of mental stress about something you have the power to control can ultimately bring you down emotionally and physically. 

To note: Just because some people cut corners doesn't mean you have to. Sure, I may have forgotten to do something in the past--that's human nature--but I never intentionally decided, "Hey, I know my patient is neutropenic and I'm just going to use this flush that I dropped on the floor anyway." (Not that that's what you've done, but you get what I'm saying, I hope?). Another way to think about it is: "If this were my mother, father, sister, uncle, best friend, etc., how would I feel if I knew their nurse were intentionally doing things that could potentially harm them or make them worse?" I know for myself, I would want the best care for my loved one, including scrubbing hubs for secondary IV bags.

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barcode120x has 3 years experience as a ADN, BSN, RN and specializes in Telemetry.

528 Posts; 10,151 Profile Views

I'm sure EVERYONE cuts corners at one point in their life in nursing, whether it was a few times, or daily. I'll probably keep my response in regards to that issue short cuz the idea of "cutting corners" in nursing can definitely get real hot. The perfect person and the perfect nurse will never cut corners. But no one is perfect, ever.

Definitely need to find good coping mechanisms to deal with this guilt/anxiety. I also think it's part of the "new grad blues." Over time I think this guilt will subside. We've all been there. 

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