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Feel Like a Failure in ED

Nurse Beth   (2,891 Views 2 Comments)
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Advice Column) Writer Innovator Expert

Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and works as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist.

14 Followers; 88 Articles; 226,116 Visitors; 1,751 Posts


Dear Nurse Beth,

For the past 2 years I worked at a very slow post-op unit.

I recently was hired in a busy pediatric ER in May 2018. I am nearing the end of my 3 month ER orientation. I just feel stupid, anxious and depressed. I really love the work, but I just have a feeling that some of the nurses don't like me. I was working with a preceptor where I feel as though our learning/teaching styles just don't match up.

There are a lot of Type A personalities in the ER, while I am pretty laid back and open to other's opinions of doing things. For example, early in my orientation, I would be taught how to do a skill by a preceptor, to then be scolded by a different preceptor down the road for doing it the other preceptor's way. Its just a lot to handle when I am trying to learn.

I think maybe Im just overthinking and getting inside my head.

What can I do to overcome these feelings? I feel confident with the patients with a lower acuity, but the critical patients leave me feeling like a failure. I get hard on myself when I make a mistake, even a really small one.

Thanks for the help.

Dear Feels Like a Failure,

As far as your skills, your are at 3 months, which means you should be comfortable with lower acuity patients, but you cannot possibly yet be comfortable with critical patients.You are in a narrow specialty as a Pediatric ED nurse. The nurses you are comparing yourself to have years more ED experience than you. Those same nurses would have a learning curve if suddenly transported to, say, Cath Lab.

Interpersonal skills are also an important part of succeeding in the ED, and then there's being a good fit.

Read "Are You Cut Out to Be an ED Nurse?" You are not stupid, but your confidence is low, and you are surrounded by strong personalities who may tend to be more judgmental than supportive. Sometimes it's the nature of highly specialized nursing units. In their defense, they are watching you to see if they can trust you with their patients.

At 3 months, it's too soon to tell if this is a good fit for you. The ED nurse you are today is not the ED nurse you'll be at 6 months, and at 1 year. Think back to when you started, and see how far you've come.

Set yourself a deadline, say in 3 more months. Keep an open mind and re-evaluate. Best wishes,

Nurse Beth

Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!

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Pixie.RN has 18 years experience as a MSN, RN, EMT-P and works as a ED/Trauma, Educator, IP/Nurse Epidemiologist.

7 Followers; 32 Articles; 125,982 Visitors; 12,881 Posts

The OP already received some great advice in the ED forum, I hope he/she goes back to look at that. :)

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