Feel like I don't know anything

  1. I didn't see a specific new grad forum, so I'm posting this here.

    I start my first job in two weeks, and I'm absolutely terrified. My first month of orientation is going to be on the same floor I worked on as a CNA, and I'm scared they're all going to think I'm a terrible nurse. I'm scared I'm not going to know what to do. I'm scared I'm going to somehow kill someone or not recognize something vital.

    I've been in school for two years, and I feel like I don't know a damn thing. I'm pretty sure you could ask me a nursing related question, right now, and I'd tell you I don't know. Two years of school that I managed to graduate from, managed to pass the NCLEX exam, and I feel like my brain is full of nothing but 90s song lyrics and every line in Robin Hood: Men in Tights.

    Should I keep studying while I'm waiting to start? Go through my Saunders book? I keep envisioning showing up to my first day of on the floor training and winding up fired or my preceptor hates me because I don't know something I should know.
  2. Visit mindiianajones profile page

    About mindiianajones, ADN, ASN, RN

    Joined: May '18; Posts: 43; Likes: 34

    41 Comments

  3. by   Sour Lemon
    Quote from mindiianajones
    I didn't see a specific new grad forum, so I'm posting this here.

    I start my first job in two weeks, and I'm absolutely terrified. My first month of orientation is going to be on the same floor I worked on as a CNA, and I'm scared they're all going to think I'm a terrible nurse. I'm scared I'm not going to know what to do. I'm scared I'm going to somehow kill someone or not recognize something vital.

    I've been in school for two years, and I feel like I don't know a damn thing. I'm pretty sure you could ask me a nursing related question, right now, and I'd tell you I don't know. Two years of school that I managed to graduate from, managed to pass the NCLEX exam, and I feel like my brain is full of nothing but 90s song lyrics and every line in Robin Hood: Men in Tights.

    Should I keep studying while I'm waiting to start? Go through my Saunders book? I keep envisioning showing up to my first day of on the floor training and winding up fired or my preceptor hates me because I don't know something I should know.
    They say it takes two years to be competent and seven years to feel "good". That was true for me. And at eight years in, there are still a zillion things that I don't know. I used to feel humiliated when I had to look something up as a new grad, but I don't mind asking, "What the hell is that?!" anytime, anyplace and to anyone these days.
    No one is going to hate you for what you don't know. Just take some initiative in finding out what you don't know. And when you do ask questions, write things down so that you're not asking the same exact things over and over.
  4. by   Wuzzie
    Quote from mindiianajones
    I've been in school for two years, and I feel like I don't know a damn thing.
    Cuz you don't! But realizing that is why you won't kill anybody. Seriously. Every new grad feels the same way you do and every one eventually gets over it. You'll be fine youngling. Relax.
  5. by   brownbook
    First of all it's really, really, REALLY, hard to kill someone. One IV, or IM, or PO medication cannot kill a person.

    Missing something vital.....unless you're working in a critical care unit patients are going to let you know by what they say or what their vital signs are that they are critically ill.

    Do you have children? Do you need to be a "super mom" to realize a newborn or toddler is ill?

    Working as an experienced CNA would you expect a brand new CNA on your unit to know everything? Would you think less of her if she had questions for you?

    It took me waaaaay to long to learn no one knows everything. I'd feel stupid, finally get the nerve to ask an experienced nurse about such and such and she'd say "I don't know."

    You're lucky you can come here to Allnurses for some of your dumb questions. I didn't have Google or Allnurses when I was a new green as grass nurse.
  6. by   mindiianajones
    Quote from Sour Lemon
    They say it takes two years to be competent and seven years to feel "good". That was true for me. And at eight years in, there are still a zillion things that I don't know. I used to feel humiliated when I had to look something up as a new grad, but I don't mind asking, "What the hell is that?!" anytime, anyplace and to anyone these days.
    No one is going to hate you for what you don't know. Just take some initiative in finding out what you don't know. And when you do ask questions, write things down so that you're not asking the same exact things over and over.
    Well, I'm glad even the seasoned pros still have questions about things. It's hard for me to let go of the notion that I spent all this time in school so I should theoretically know things? Note taking, though! I'll remember to do that for sure. And try not to care about feeling or looking stupid when asking questions.
  7. by   mindiianajones
    Quote from Wuzzie
    Cuz you don't! But realizing that is why you won't kill anybody. Seriously. Every new grad feels the same way you do and every one eventually gets over it. You'll be fine youngling. Relax.
    I promise I'm trying to relax! It seems like my relax button has been broken since I started prepping for the NCLEX. But thank you for the encouragement.
  8. by   dontbetachy90
    Your feelings of apprehension are SO normal, and even welcomed! Trust me.

    I was an aid/tech in an ER and then precepted in that same ER, and I had the exact same feelings -- "they expect me to know 'nurse things' because I worked here, but I don't!" What is worse are the CNAs I have worked with who then precepted on our unit, but instead of having an ounce of humility or apprehension, acted as if they DID know everything. This is frowned upon.

    Being an aid and a nurse are two different ball games entirely, so you CAN'T be expected to know how to be a nurse after you graduate regardless of if you were an aid on that floor for a thousand years. It is just so different. But you know what you will have? You'll have the confidence to adequately care for those patients while learning how to be a new nurse because you are already familiar with the environment and you already know how to meet their most basic needs. This is huge -- being a new nurse in a brand new environment is a double-whammy, and even worse if you have never been an aid before, so be thankful that you have this foundation already.

    Secondly, never be afraid to ask questions, no matter who you are, who you used to be, or how long you've been there. Nobody will think less of you, and if they do, they are ill-informed as to what your new role as a nurse means. The only way you learn as a nurse is through asking intelligent questions and listening to the answers, and through time and exposure. That's it. Reading your books may help you memorize medications and lab values, but will be of little practical use once you hit the floor and are suddenly flooded with a thousand concepts that you never encountered while in school -- such as the logistics of being a nurse, rather than what xyz lab values indicate. Patients are so, so complex, and the book-knowledge you obtained from nursing school is only one of the building blocks to becoming a successful nurse.

    Don't fret -- we all felt the way you do now, and within a year or two you will be soaring and maybe even precepting new nurses. Keep us posted on your progress! Good luck
  9. by   mindiianajones
    Quote from brownbook
    First of all it's really, really, REALLY, hard to kill someone. One IV, or IM, or PO medication cannot kill a person.

    Missing something vital.....unless you're working in a critical care unit patients are going to let you know by what they say or what their vital signs are that they are critically ill.

    Do you have children? Do you need to be a "super mom" to realize a newborn or toddler is ill?

    Working as an experienced CNA would you expect a brand new CNA on your unit to know everything? Would you think less of her if she had questions for you?

    It took me waaaaay to long to learn no one knows everything. I'd feel stupid, finally get the nerve to ask an experienced nurse about such and such and she'd say "I don't know."

    You're lucky you can come here to Allnurses for some of your dumb questions. I didn't have Google or Allnurses when I was a new green as grass nurse.
    I would never judge another CNA for not knowing something. I guess it's just more difficult to think of that in relation to myself, especially since school's supposed to prepare you for this, right? And especially since not knowing something could have serious consequences for someone. Pharmacology was my worst subject in school, and I keep thinking that I'm going to be working with meds so much, so I should have done better in that class.

    Asking, though... asking I can do. Even if I feel like an idiot. And that's true! I can come here with dumb questions if need be. XD
  10. by   dontbetachy90
    ( in response to brownbook ) Why so hateful? These are valid questions from someone who perhaps needs a little boost of confidence or reassurance, not for you to be confounded and invalidate these concerns merely because you did not have access to such a tool as this forum. Shame on you; I hope you never precept new RNs.
    Last edit by dontbetachy90 on May 27 : Reason: Want to clarify who I responded to
  11. by   mindiianajones
    Quote from dontbetachy90
    Your feelings of apprehension are SO normal, and even welcomed! Trust me.

    I was an aid/tech in an ER and then precepted in that same ER, and I had the exact same feelings -- "they expect me to know 'nurse things' because I worked here, but I don't!" What is worse are the CNAs I have worked with who then precepted on our unit, but instead of having an ounce of humility or apprehension, acted as if they DID know everything. This is frowned upon.

    Being an aid and a nurse are two different ball games entirely, so you CAN'T be expected to know how to be a nurse after you graduate regardless of if you were an aid on that floor for a thousand years. It is just so different. But you know what you will have? You'll have the confidence to adequately care for those patients while learning how to be a new nurse because you are already familiar with the environment and you already know how to meet their most basic needs. This is huge -- being a new nurse in a brand new environment is a double-whammy, and even worse if you have never been an aid before, so be thankful that you have this foundation already.

    Secondly, never be afraid to ask questions, no matter who you are, who you used to be, or how long you've been there. Nobody will think less of you, and if they do, they are ill-informed as to what your new role as a nurse means. The only way you learn as a nurse is through asking intelligent questions and listening to the answers, and through time and exposure. That's it. Reading your books may help you memorize medications and lab values, but will be of little practical use once you hit the floor and are suddenly flooded with a thousand concepts that you never encountered while in school -- such as the logistics of being a nurse, rather than what xyz lab values indicate. Patients are so, so complex, and the book-knowledge you obtained from nursing school is only one of the building blocks to becoming a successful nurse.

    Don't fret -- we all felt the way you do now, and within a year or two you will be soaring and maybe even precepting new nurses. Keep us posted on your progress! Good luck
    Thank you so much for this. I feel like I need to print it out or something.

    Half the reason I went for a job in a hospital as an aid was because I thought it'd be a help once I started working as a nurse and I'd get more exposure and learning opportunities. I didn't really, at least nothing vastly different from what I was exposed to when I worked in LTC. I had a couple people tell me not to get a job in the same place that I worked because the transition from an aid to a nurse wouldn't be smooth, that I'd get grief from people who would have certain expectations, etc. I know I shouldn't worry about what people think of me because that's not important. What's important is the patients. I just also hate the idea that people might think poorly of me.

    But that's very true. I am at least able to provide basic care, and I know how to talk to patients already. I know a lot of my classmates struggled during our first clinicals with approaching patients because they'd never had to before.

    I guess I'm kind of looking at it like my orientation is going to be a quiz, and the more answers I get wrong, the worse my "grade" is going to be.

    I hope I get to the point where I can precept new nurses! That would be awesome. I will update definitely! Thank you for the reassurance.
  12. by   Sour Lemon
    Quote from dontbetachy90
    ( in response to brownbook ) Why so hateful? These are valid questions from someone who perhaps needs a little boost of confidence or reassurance, not for you to be confounded and invalidate these concerns merely because you did not have access to such a tool as this forum. Shame on you; I hope you never precept new RNs.
    Hateful??? ...doesn't sound hateful at all, to me. Her comments are actually very supportive. I think she'd be a great preceptor.
  13. by   dontbetachy90
    Perhaps just a different perception. The "voice" in my head as I was reading was not a pleasant one especially when she said the bit about these being dumb questions. To each their own, but yes, maybe I was being a bit sensitive :P
  14. by   brownbook
    Quote from dontbetachy90
    Perhaps just a different perception. The "voice" in my head as I was reading was not a pleasant one especially when she said the bit about these being dumb questions. To each their own, but yes, maybe I was being a bit sensitive :P
    Now I understand. I only meant "dumb" questions in the sense of I always thought my questions were dumb until I found out experienced nurses didn't know the answer either. I didn't mean her questions she asked here were dumb.

    The only dumb question is the one you don't ask is something I struggle with to this day!

    I can ask my "dumb" questions here anonymously

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