I've been working as a new grad for roughly three months now. I am still with a preceptor. Over time, I have been taking more and more patients. Recently, I have been taking the full assignment, while my preceptor is just there to help me do the little things and make sure I am doing a good job. We get along great (thankfully). She is always willing to help, tells me I am doing a great job, and I feel comfortable telling her I need help.
But, and there always is a but---I'm scared and nervous all the time and dont think I'm good enough. Its very hard for me to see the big picture with regards to what is going on with my patients, and when I have to give report, I feel like I dont even know what is going on with them. They ask me all these questions I dont know the answer to, and in my head, I'm thinking, but I gave all my meds on time and documented my assessment in a timely manner, and did all these other things.
So the other day, we had a heavy assignment, and I put a lot of pressure on myself. I kept on telling my preceptor "I can do it, I can do it". I know for a fact that they give us a heavier assignment because there are two of us - which is obviously not fair. How I am supposed to be independent and be able to take a full assignment while learning the patient population and how to organize my time better when they give us a heavier assignment every single time because we are short staffed and there are two of us, how am I supposed to feel competent?
I just broke down. I told my preceptor that I could handle the entire assignment, even though she wanted to split it up because it was too heavy for me to do on my own (they would have never given someone else this assignment). So I was trying my best and then of course got behind on a couple of things for one of the patients. So my preceptor, very nicely, came up and asked why I had not hung an antibiotic up for one of the patients. And I just lost it. I just started crying right in front of her. And she kept on saying, I know this is a heavy assignment, let me help you. So then she thought I was upset with her. And I was crying and couldnt stop to tell her that it wasnt her fault and that it was all the pressure I was putting on myself. It was just truly embarrassing. Of course this is all the hallway and she is saying "its ok to cry" and while I dont know if people overheard, all I could think of was 'great now everyone will think I'm incompetent.'
So a couple hours past, I try to move on, and its time to give report. It was just myself and the oncoming nurse. She casually asked me how the day went when I was done giving report. And I told her about my temporary breakdown, plus my eyes start to water as I am talking to her. She was truly supportive. She said everyone can see how hard I am working and that I will be a great nurse. I really felt it was sincere. But of course, I cant stop thinking "great now everyone thinks I'm all emotional and cant handle the pressure.
If you are still with me, thanks for letting me vent to you! Bring on the words of wisdom...
Jul 16, '11
I went to speak with my manager about getting a job once I finish nursing school. She mentioned that one of the new nurses cries alot but she was doing way better than expected. But she is becoming a great nurse and does better than some of the senor nurses that have come from other floors. I cried my first day as a tech. I had 15 pts out of that 8 were complete care. Plus I had
to do lab draws and EKGs for the entire floor. That was 3.5 years ago. I have seen nurses with 15-30 years of experience and they still have days. It was one day and I am sure you are going back. It will get better!
Jul 16, '11
Yes they might think you are too emotional etc. or they might realize you are a new grad who got an unfair assignment. I have seen a few nurses crying. At least you have supportive co -workers/preceptors and not one who sat by and laughed as the day fell apart or an oncomming nurse who complained if you left anything "undone.".! I remember getting the heavier assignments with 1admit and 2 fresh post ops comming up at the same time and the rest of the load at the end of my orientation. Because it was "2 of us". meanwhile some snickered if i wasn't doing it all on my own and i felt the same way you did. Well guess what, had they given that assignment to one nurse , most of them would have raised hell and complained until it was changed .
Jul 16, '11
Hang in there! Ask for help when you need it. You're obviously doing a great job and no one is expecting you to handle a bogus load being new! Chin up, smile on!
Jul 16, '11
I have been a nurse for many years but remember what it was like to be a new grad and be afraid of making a mistake. I would much rather work with someone like you, who is human and uncertain of themselves and doesn't know all the answers-yet- (you will get better!!) than work with an individual who doesn't ask questions or seek advice,
they want to pretend they don't need anyone's help- those people can be dangerous to patients and co-workers.
Jul 16, '11
OP, I too had a big ol breakdown when I was a new grad orientating to my first job. It was a crazy hectic short-staffed floor and it sounds like yours is the same. I tried to do the best I could but like you always felt I fell short in some way and beat myself up to no end. When I had my breakdown my preceptor pulled me into a room and told me that she has never had a preceptee that did not at some point break down in tears. So rest assured that no one thinks your an incompetent cry-baby who will never make it. You will learn as time goes by that it is ok to be human. The transition from student to practicing nurse is a very rough one.
Jul 16, '11
Thank you all for your kind words! It's good to hear that I am not alone. It seems as if everyone puts on this front like 'i'm super nurse' and I know that isnt always the case. I constantly think of all the things I did wrong, or could have done better, or forgot to do when I leave work. I'm just starting to realize something - I never once question why a nurse forgot to do something on the previous shift - so I now doubt that they care that I forgot to do one or two things. I just keep telling myself, nursing is 24/7. It's nice to be reminded that other people are human too and breakdown!
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