I guess I'm an idiot

  1. Everyday you can learn a new lesson about life. The lesson I learned today was how bad things really can get at work when I haven't had enough sleep. I am a new grad, a full RN, going through orientation on a postpartum unit. Not a bad unit. It has a nice flow most of the time. The patient acuity is usually lower, so it's not as stressful as, say, an ICU or ER or such.

    Today was the worst day I have ever had, ever. All of my thoughts were fragmented. I was forgetting things that I know very well; simple things. Just when I thought I was doing okay, I'd find another thing that I missed or did incorrectly.

    I apologized over and over to my preceptor. I assured her that I have never been this loopy before. I explained to her that I have a special needs daughter (of the behavioral variety) that regularly wears me out, and a 20 month-old son that still wakes up at night. I was basically trying to ask her not to judge my entire capability to be a good nurse on today, because I WAS NOT MYSELF today.

    She showed no sympathy. I was eating crow Fear Factor style and it didn't even help. For example, I said, "Well, I guess today is a new low for me. Hopefully it'll get better from here." She said, "Well, it has to." Later I said, "I just don't want you to feel like I am an idiot." She said, "If all the rest of your days are like this one, I'm going to have to." There were other comments that just made me feel awful. Everytime I made myself vulnerable, I regretted it. I finally quit apologizing. I realized I was getting nowhere.

    I mean, come on. Couldn't she throw me a bone of encouragement? Have all of her 30+ years in nursing been perfect? Has she not EVER had a day when she didn't have her A game, or even her B game, for that matter?

    I thought she was the coolest nurse on the unit until today. She succeeded in making me feel like the dumbest person that ever tried to call herself a nurse, and I am now questioning why I even chose this profession.

    Let me know if any of you have ever had a day this bad. I seriously feel like the most incompetent idiot on the planet right now.
    Last edit by ABQLNDRN on Aug 26, '06
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    About ABQLNDRN

    Joined: Feb '06; Posts: 152; Likes: 24
    RN; from US
    Specialty: 6 year(s) of experience in L&D

    10 Comments

  3. by   traumaRUs
    I have had bad days too. It is too bad that your preceptor can't or won't remember what it was like to be new. And if you think it stops with your first job, it doesnt, unfortunately. I just got my first advanced practice job and the other day was quizzed unmercifully by one of the docs in the practice. I finally looked him right in the eyes and told him that I didn't know the answer but that I would sure find out and get back with him. Now, it wasn't fair of him to have done that to me but in retrospect, I won't EVER not be prepared again.

    Some lessons are harder than others. However, I sympathize with you immensely. There is nothing scarier than being a new grad today. Good luck and take care.
  4. by   vamedic4
    Your preceptor's the idiot, not you. I'm so very sorry this has happened to you.

    A preceptor's job is to do several things...one is to ensure competency and maintain a standard of care while working WITH her trainee. Another is to provide positive reinforcement in order to facilitate a better learning experience for the new nurse. What an bad example she sets for other preceptors, to say nothing of experienced RNs. Really makes you want to work there, eh?
    It is nice that you have acknowledged your mistakes...it's not like you're never going to make them. I GUARANTEE your preceptor's made some doozies in her career - but she'd never let on to that...some people just can't.
    Do yourself a favor...get good rest, do your best, and if this type of thing happens AT ALL AGAIN, let someone know immediately. She is not providing the type of preceptorship that is necessary for you to become a fully functioning and competent member of the unit.

    Just focus on what you have to do, and if you have to ask for help...DO IT and don't feel bad. It's not about you being able to do everything by yourself...it's about doing it right so that nothing happens that shouldn't.

    I hope tomorrow is better than today. Keep smiling and keep us updated on your progress!!

    Have a better day!!!!

    vamedic4:spin:
    Going home at midnight
  5. by   jahra
    Quote from maralenn
    Everyday you can learn a new lesson about life.

    Let me know if any of you have ever had a day this bad. I seriously feel like the most incompetent idiot on the planet right now.
    First, congratulations on your graduation! Second, please do not
    devalue yourself. You are an adult who has returned to school
    and graduated starting a new job. All the while managing a busy
    household including a child with special concerns and a 20 month old.

    You should honor yourself (and be honored!)

    I suggest the new lesson about life is to ( at least) in nursing----------
    take care of yourself first. You will find that nursing is a demanding
    job and often the difficult stress can be peers. If you have
    not slept or are ill, you are better to call in. You know how you
    feel and what you can manage.

    Because you risk putting yourself or patients safety at risk.
    Or as you can see, even if admitting to having a bad day
    but doing your best=======some peers will use it against you.

    Before you were a nurse, you were a person. Your family comes first,
    and so does your health.

    I believe this was a rare situation for you. But your peers often won't
    support you on a good day let alone a difficult one.

    My suggestion is this----resume the orientation with a positive attitude,
    be mindful around your preceptor.

    If your family circumstances are such that this job is not a good fit.
    There are many other jobs-pediatric office, ob gyn office , school
    nursing that may be a better fit at this time.

    There will always be the opportunity to work in the Mother infant floor
    now or at a later time.

    With the stress of nursing today in terms of staffing, protect yourself.
    My friend quit a neonatal icu because repeatedly she was mandated
    to work 3-11 back to back with 11-7 without notice. She had 4 children at home and her spouse worked 11-7.

    Good luck to you, you have a wondeful nursing journey ahead of you!

    And yeah to vamedics post-well said!!!!!!!!!!!
    Last edit by jahra on Aug 26, '06
  6. by   LeahJet
    She should not be a preceptor.

    Just a word to the wise: Use your apologies sparingly. It's sad, but the truth is, some people view this as a weakness. With experience will come confidence....until then, think twice before groveling.(this was a lesson I had to learn myself)
  7. by   firstaiddave907
    Congrats on being an RN and your preceptor is the idiot not you.
  8. by   Agnus
    Quote from maralenn
    Everyday you can learn a new lesson about life. The lesson I learned today was how bad things really can get at work when I haven't had enough sleep. I am a new grad, a full RN, going through orientation on a postpartum unit. Not a bad unit. It has a nice flow most of the time. The patient acuity is usually lower, so it's not as stressful as, say, an ICU or ER or such.

    Today was the worst day I have ever had, ever. All of my thoughts were fragmented. I was forgetting things that I know very well; simple things. Just when I thought I was doing okay, I'd find another thing that I missed or did incorrectly.

    I apologized over and over to my preceptor. I assured her that I have never been this loopy before. I explained to her that I have a special needs daughter (of the behavioral variety) that regularly wears me out, and a 20 month-old son that still wakes up at night. I was basically trying to ask her not to judge my entire capability to be a good nurse on today, because I WAS NOT MYSELF today.

    She showed no sympathy. I was eating crow Fear Factor style and it didn't even help. For example, I said, "Well, I guess today is a new low for me. Hopefully it'll get better from here." She said, "Well, it has to." Later I said, "I just don't want you to feel like I am an idiot." She said, "If all the rest of your days are like this one, I'm going to have to." There were other comments that just made me feel awful. Everytime I made myself vulnerable, I regretted it. I finally quit apologizing. I realized I was getting nowhere.

    I mean, come on. Couldn't she throw me a bone of encouragement? Have all of her 30+ years in nursing been perfect? Has she not EVER had a day when she didn't have her A game, or even her B game, for that matter?

    I thought she was the coolest nurse on the unit until today. She succeeded in making me feel like the dumbest person that ever tried to call herself a nurse, and I am now questioning why I even chose this profession.

    Let me know if any of you have ever had a day this bad. I seriously feel like the most incompetent idiot on the planet right now.

    You are human. Don't beat yourself up. I am sure you understand if you continue to have sleep depravation like this that you may have to adjust your work schedule or the number of days you work. Or maybe even find something that has a scheadule that works better for you. Perhaps, perdiem might work for you because then if you are not clear headed enough to work a particular you don't have to.

    Take it easy on yourself. Obviously this preceptor is a jerk. Give yourself time. Talk to your manager or supervisor about what is happening and if you feel you may need some consideration in terms of you schedule ask for it.
  9. by   Crocuta
    There is another possibility that no one has mentioned. Maybe the OP's preceptor was having an even worse day. By her own admission, she thought that her preceptor was "the coolest nurse on the unit" which means that today was obviously a dramatic departure from her norm. Maybe she just found out her mom has cancer, or her kids are doing meth, or her husband is schlepping the meter reader. It's easy to assume that we're the only one having a bad day when things go south.

    That said, stop denigrating yourself. You survived nursing school, passed the NCLEX, presumably made it through at least one interview and were picked out of several highly qualified candidates for a position in a specialty unit. You should be proud of your accomplishments. You had a bad day. You're a new grad - a novice. You're going to have more bad days, and that's just a fact. As you gain experience, those bad days will become fewer and farther between, but you'll never escape them entirely.

    What you can do though, is change the way you react to them. Our thoughts (and our words) create reality. It's been said that if a lie is told often enough and loudly enough, it becomes fact (just look at any politician.) If you tell yourself often enough that you're an idiot, you'll come to believe it. If you tell your coworkers, they'll come to believe it. When you have a bad day, don't draw attention to it. Grit your teeth, make it through the day and go home to a hot tub or a hot toddy or whatever it is that helps you relax and let it go. If your bad day was because you lacked important knowledge, you'll have to hit the books and make sure you know it next time.

    I'd suggest you never bring it up again. Go in tomorrow and pretend like today never happened. Don't try to apologize for trying to apologize. Don't talk about how today will be better than yesterday. Act like the highly qualified, eager, compassionate NURSE that you are. You've earned the right to be where you are today. Take the lessons that you're learning and remember that in a few years, you'll be the preceptor and there will be some terrified new grad that thinks she's an idiot looking to you for a glimmer of acceptance. What will she write on these boards when she goes home that night?
  10. by   mercyteapot
    Quote from maralenn
    She showed no sympathy. I was eating crow Fear Factor style and it didn't even help. For example, I said, "Well, I guess today is a new low for me. Hopefully it'll get better from here." She said, "Well, it has to." Later I said, "I just don't want you to feel like I am an idiot." She said, "If all the rest of your days are like this one, I'm going to have to." There were other comments that just made me feel awful. Everytime I made myself vulnerable, I regretted it. I finally quit apologizing. I realized I was getting nowhere.
    I can only hope that this was one of our worst days ever, too, because making a comment like that one I've bolded is thoroughly unacceptable for a preceptor. If the rest of her days are like this one, I'm just going to have to think she should stick to patient care and leave the precepting to those with a modicum of talent for the job.
    Last edit by mercyteapot on Aug 27, '06
  11. by   Logan
    Hi,

    Quote from maralenn
    Everytime I made myself vulnerable, I regretted it. I finally quit apologizing. I realized I was getting nowhere.
    See, you learned something from this experience! It wasn't a complete, total loss

    Quote from maralenn
    Have all of her 30+ years in nursing been perfect? Has she not EVER had a day when she didn't have her A game, or even her B game, for that matter?
    And therein lies the rub

    Heck, who knows - maybe she had really bad news delivered that day?
    Maybe she isn't that competent a preceptor.

    But recognize this - you were being malaigned for being short 1 day out of 10 or 20. I think (and so do you, as you pointed out yourself) that that is being unfair!


    So stop beating yourself.
    Chin up! Straighten that back! Lift that shoulder!
    Tomorrow will be a better day!

    Thanks,
    Matthew
  12. by   Indy
    Coolness means nothing. "A cool nurse" can be incompetent, lazy, a bad preceptor, or whatever. Really.

    The preceptor is supposed to be able to assure things get done while teaching someone else how to do them. It's a hard job and not everyone can do it, regardless of coolness.

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