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my first day as RN

vampyreg vampyreg (New) New

Well I passed boards and am now on orientation as an RN. I feel so overwhelmed. I feel I have no confidence,and I am scared to death of making a mistake. Most of the nurses are helpful and understanding but there are a few who obviously forgot what it was like to be new. There are a few that are making this a difficult transition (was an stna)I take way to much to heart. I'm afraid that I don't have the assertiveness that it takes. I guess I'm just looking to hear if anyone has had similar feelings and if it is normal to be this scared. I guess I just feel like I should know more.


Specializes in ER, PACU, OR.

I think everybody feels the same way when they 1st start. Chin up and keep on plugging a way you will do fine. My bet? You won't feel overly confident for about 6 months. You'll be fine!


Hi, I hope that you will take everything one step at a time. Don't worry what others think or say because before you know it you will move on or they will move on. Start by trying to organize each day and be ready for a wrench to thrown in at any minute. After report I sit down and sign all my MAR's and nurses notes. I then check all the MAR's for early meds and get those out. I then start all my AM assessments passing meds at the same time. I then check the vitals and any blood sugars and lab results. By then I have a few minutes to sit down and start pounding out my AM assessments on paper. Then I get all the meds for all my patients in cups(labeled w/they're names). By then the breakfast is completed and I pass 0900 meds and can check any new orders. I try to help w/baths and such and change dressings etc... at this time. I then take a few minutes for a snack for me and it's almost time for 1130 Blood sugar checks and noon meds. I try to help my co-workers as much as possible and sometimes nothing goes as planned but you can try to stay on track and on orientation you can start w/2 patients and work your way up to more and more. Don't be afraid to ask questions and don't be embarrassed to look things up in your books and stuff. We were all there once. Good Luck.



Congrats on starting your career! :-) Are any of the negative people your preceptors? If so, go to your nurse manager and ask her not to pair you up with them anymore. A new grad needs someone who is positive, who can give CONSTRUCTIVE criticism and is willing to provide praise and positive reinforcement. Also, try and build a good relationship with your manager---getting along well with the boss can make a world of difference! :-) It is normal to feel what you are feeling but you will feel more comfortable with time, I'm sure! Hang in there and let those of us on this bulletin board know how things are going!


I agree with everything everyone prior has said and wanted to add a few thoughts. This is your life and your career that you just sweat blood for and NO one can take it from you. You will make of it what you want, so Don't allow anyone to screw it up! If you knew everything you'd be dead, guess what "they" don't know everything either...the difference-your not jaded yet..Try to watch the positive nurses, see what their organizational tricks are, pick everyone's brain that you see doing a good job. You got thru nursing school, you CAN do this,,it's what you trained for! Nurses do amazing things every day. Your one of us now...best of luck and hang in there-the patients need you more than ever. I'm out.

I feel for you. I graduated at the top of my class only to discover I really didn't know anything at all (at least it felt that way at first!). I was terrified at first as well - I used to say a little silent prayer on my way to work every day that I didn't kill someone today. I learned that fear can be a very good thing for a new nurse - it keeps you from bailing into a situation that you're not ready for. Don't be afraid to ask questions, it's really important to be sure of what you're doing. At the same time, don't be afraid to question what someone else might ask of you or tell you to do. You do have a mind and an education. If your gut is telling you something is wrong, it most likely is. At the end of the day, it's your name on the care records.

I was thinking back to my first day "on the floor" and had to LOL! With a preceptor, I was caring for a cancer pt who happened to have a rectal tube inserted. I remembered talking about them in school, what the function was, etc., but I had no idea they were inserted so far into the body! The pt requested that it be removed, so, with the pt lying on their side facing ME, and my preceptor on the opposite side of the bed facing, well, not the pts face smile.gif, I proceeded to remove it. Not realizing how long it was, I failed to contain it in my hand as I removed it, causing it to sort of "whip" out and spray my preceptor with liquid stool! Needless to say, I was mortified, and pretty sure that spraying your preceptor with stool was not a good first impression. The only question she had was "Is it in my hair?". When she knew that it had only doused her nicely pressed uniform, she moved right on to the next thing, no problem. Just another day at work. Believe me, it took a while, but now the story just makes me laugh.

Hang in there, and keep a sense of humor. Some days you'll have to either laugh or cry... try to laugh!

I know exactly how you feel. I have only bee a RN for about six months and know absolutly nothing compared to the experienced RN's. Before a graduated I frequently had nightmares about making med errors, ect. I was working as a Tech in the ER at the time and discussed this with my supervisor, who is also a very good friend of mine. She said to me "good, I'm glad your scared, if you wern't, I wouldn't want you on my unit."

Here is my advise, if you are unsure, ask questions, look in the policy and procedure book, or ask a seasoned nurse. Don't do something if you are unsure if that is right or not.

There is so much talk out there about nurses eating their young, but I haven't seem it personally. All of the seasoned nurses I have worked with have the patients best interest in mind and will help you learn all you can.

Don't be put off by constructive critisism. As someone eariler said you will want to either laugh or cry and it's better to laugh. I smile when I feel like screaming and save my crying for home ( and I'm not ashamed to say I have went home and cried ona few occasions).

Work on your organization skills, they will save you more times than not. And I was told by many experienced nurses that they feel overwhelmed too at times. If someone is short with you, they may be as overwhelmed as you at the time, don't take it personally. Hang in there and good luck. I know you can do this. But it doesnt hurt to get a little thick skinned when it comes to others comments about your abilities, they are probably just trying to help, or haveother things going on at that time.

One more thing I can suggest is to find a good mentor. It always helps to have someone you can bounce things off of when there is time. I have a couple and would probably have given up a long time ago if it wernt for them. Sorry this is so lengthy.

Good luck and hang in there!!!!! JillR


I remember feeling like an imposter when I first started signing RN after my name. Now I have a hard time remembering NOT to put it after everything. You will learn and adjust. There is some good advice posted by others, you don't need anymore from me. You'll do great!


I remember how hard it was those first months, trying to fit in and make sure that I did what I was supposed. As others have said, if your not scared, I wouldn't want you either. As an ADON, I am very skeptical of the nurse who knows it all as she is apt to make more mistakes, because she knows she is always right. THAT SCARES ME.

When I took a position as a Unit manager at another facity a few years later, there was a CNA who was on the floor my first day as a nurse. She LOVED telling New Nurse Nancy stories. I laughed right along with them because even though when it happened I was a nervous wreck, now I am comfortable. But there are still things I don't do as well, so I have to look it up. And that is ok. Best of luck to you. NA


whatever happens, you probably can't do as badly as I did. My first shift as an RN was a pm shift, and in the country hospital in which I worked - there was only one RN on for a pm shift -> ME!! No orientation, no nuthin'! (and it wasn't THAT long ago, either!)

Well ... It was a medical ward, 30+ patients (in the days before we had a psych ward)... in my first hour, I had two regulated psych patients abscond.

Then it went downhill! *l*

But I made it through - they even asked me back again!! *l* ... so remember, no matter how bad it seems now - you'll laugh about it one day!

I remember this well from when I first graduated. I stopped in the middle of a medication round and wondered how I was ever going to get everything done before the end of my shift. Luckily, a very supportive colleague realised I was about to have a minor crisis of confidence. She and one of the other RNs gave me the support I needed when I told them I was feeling "overwhelmed". That got me through that first shift 'going solo'. Now here I am five years later with the skills to prioritise my time and be asssertive when needed. I always try to be aware of how my newly graduated colleagues are feeling and try to remember what it was like. Good luck. It will get better.

I am so glad I am not the only one going through these problems. I am in the process of getting out of orientation (4more days to go) and I can allready recognize the nurses that are going to make it hard for me. Like you, I took it all to heart and even wondered if I was fit for the job. I was top of my class, class president, NSNA officer, and many more things including mother and wife. I realized if there was going to be someone that put their 200% into this was going to be me. The nurses make it hard your you perhaps had a hard time when they started and feel is tradition to do the same. Nothing last forever, they will leave and you will have confidence in yourself. Hang in there and I thank you for posting your message. The responses you received helped me along during my time of need as well.

Originally posted by vampyreg:

Well I passed boards and am now on orientation as an RN. I feel so overwhelmed. I feel I have no confidence,and I am scared to death of making a mistake. Most of the nurses are helpful and understanding but there are a few who obviously forgot what it was like to be new. There are a few that are making this a difficult transition (was an stna)I take way to much to heart. I'm afraid that I don't have the assertiveness that it takes. I guess I'm just looking to hear if anyone has had similar feelings and if it is normal to be this scared. I guess I just feel like I should know more.

/Well good luck on your new career I hope it is a long and happy one. I have been a nurse for 19 years and can remember my 1st day as if it was just yesterday, Cut my hand opening an ampule to give my 1st shot after graduating and had to spend 2hrs in ER getting sutures in my hand I felt so dumb, but I know well it can't get much worse, I was lucky to be paired with a nurse that was and LPN then she became and RN. so her guidance was from both sides of the nurse

coin and I just wish she was still living I would have her talk to you. The greatest item


Don't give up! We've all been there, and believe it or not it does get easier. Don't be afraid to ask questions. I've been in nursing for 13 years now and I still ask questions everyday! Good Luck.

Dear friend

My first 6 months were overwhelming and I had little support...I started on a surgical floor where the head nurse was awful and give me a real rough time. I remember coming home crying and feeling so inadequate! I was not assertive and was trying so hard. I took everything at heart and SERIOUSLY thought of quitting nursing. However, I was too stubborn and transferred to another floor. The head nurse there guided me and supported me and I flourished. 20 years later, I work independently as a home care nurse and long term care assessor in a small rural area. I feel confident and love my job! I am so glad that I persisted as I am doing what I love the most, caring for my patients. I must admit that this old head nurse and my first year still brings back terrifying memories but I know now that it was part of my growth as a nurse and part of the learning curve.We are all NEW when we start and fear is part of the process. Take it one day at a time, experience will follow and therefore your confidence! Don't ever feel inadequate when asking questions or for help...that is what makes a good, competent nurse. Hang in there! I am sure glad that I stuck it out . Also remember that nurses are humans too which means that some will be helpful and some won't.

Good luck to you! Nightstar


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