Got the new nurse blues...


I'm sure this is no new story for you experienced nurses. I'm a new grad, 3 months on the job now. I have a B.S in biology and went back for my ADN. (I'm older, not a youngin'!) And yikes, it all of a sudden hit me and wore me down. This floor nursing is so incredibly stressful and intense.

Thought I'd get used to the "12 hour days" (of course always longer). Thought I'd get used to the pace of things as I've had physical and mentally challanging jobs before...nothing compares to this. I'm on a new unit which is a med/surg/telemetry type of unit. I thought I'd be one of two nurses there, but really, I'm the floor nurse. They usually float the other travel nurse that's there. My manager is available for my questions and to help in a crunch. And I have not had a patient load greater than 5 (usually always do have 5), so that should be totally doable. I just am wiped out by the long days,and nonstop stuff to deal with. Three 12 hour days in a row just does me in, plus every other week an 8 hr day is required. Of course lunch, if taken, is rushed cause I know what's waiting for me to do. But I do enjoy taking care of the patients, and think they're amazing for the lives they've led and the courage they have. The pace of things is just crazy.

Also, the negativity of some of the techs is beginning to take its toll. I respect them and what they do for us and contribute to the team--but I think one who has been a tech for 20 years is a challenge. But I think I know what her issues are, I just hope I can deal with it.

I've floated occasionally to the floor I oriented on, and things seem to flow much better there. But I don't think floor nursing is for me.

I think I am getting truly depressed. Can't sleep through the night, getting weepy for no reason. Maybe going part-time would help, I could swing that maybe. Any words of wisdom? Thanks.

grimmy, RN

349 Posts

is there any way you can go to a shorter shift, perhaps 10 hours, still have a day off, and work on some stress-reduction techniques? of course, while not every unit is for every nurse, there will always be stress, no matter what kind of nursing you'll do. you don't mention what sort of "other" life you have at home, but you will learn quickly to use every ounce of free time you have (which should include lunch and those breaks you're supposed to have) to not be working. it is self-preservation. no one is going to do it for you. i hope you can work for another 3 months, and keep an eye open for transfer opportunities to a different kind of nursing. and, please, take vacation time for a real vacation. be good to yourself.


2,228 Posts

I would agree with your suggestion to go part-time, that may help tremendously.

I've been doing this a long time and I know I couldn't do 12 hour shifts, 8 hours are too long. Five patients sounds like heaven to me.

I would cut back on the hours and don't agree to do any extra, don't even answer your phone when it's them calling.

Good luck.


15 Posts

Thanks for both of your advice. Part time/reducing hours just may be the thing I need in my case. And setting boundaries, making the time for lunch, etc. is crucial. Nursing has so many opportunities; I'm sure there's a fit out there for me. Thanks for your support!

Daytonite, BSN, RN

4 Articles; 14,603 Posts

Specializes in med/surg, telemetry, IV therapy, mgmt. Has 40 years experience.

I'm sorry to hear that you are feeling so much pressure and stress. Well, first off I disagree that 5 patients is doable on a M/S telemetry unit. These are very busy units. That's a big load for one nurse, especially when you are in charge. When I worked on a step-down (which is a med/surg telemetry) we only had 4 patients and could barely get everything done. And, if one of the patients had a problem you pretty much had to drop everything else to attend to them. Tell me that you are assigning the five hardest or sickest patients to yourself. You have to do that if you are the only RN on the floor. You need to take the easiest assignment of patients so you can be free to take care of all the stuff that is going to come up on the really sick patients. Your cranky old tech won't like it, but she's not the one with the license. I think it was very wrong of this hospital to place you as a new grad on a telemetry unit without any previous hospital experience.

Don't even try to figure out what your old techs issues are and deal with them. She's most likely never going to make friends with you. Just see that she is doing the work you are asking from her. That's all you can ask of any employee.

If you are bursting out in tears for no reason, there is a reason and I think you know that it is this job. The first 6 months out of school is hard, but it sounds like you are having an unusually difficult time of it. Your manager must think you are doing OK since you don't mention that she has been critical of your performance. When you are a new graduate you cannot be thrown into a nursing job--you are not ready. New grads still need training and nurturing. Some hospitals recognize this and have orientation programs and internship programs for new grads to help them get acclimated to the work environment. Then, there are other places who feel that they are due as much as they can get for the wages they pay--wrong attitude.

The fact that your hospital is using traveling nurses tells me that they have staffing problems. I'm guessing that their staffing problems are either because you live out in the sticks somewhere or they just can't keep employees. If they lose a nurse like you because of being overloaded with work they will have more staffing problems. I guess they don't get it.

At three months it is probably too early to request a transfer to another unit. Any chance that things might be different on the night shift? Can you go looking for a job at another hospital in the area? You ought to give it a shot. The other hospitals are probably aware of what goes on where you work.

Specializes in Med/Surg.

Hi mysterybe,

Just wondering if you purposely chose a hospital environment. Have you thought of a separate clinic or doctor's office? Or how about ER or a different type of hospital unit?

I think the importance of healing yourself is a good one. (I'm a graduate nurse about to start full-time 12 hours myself on med/surg.)

Good luck to you and keep us posted on how things are going.




15 Posts

I had wanted to try hospital floor nursing to get a good varied experience base. So far, I'm getting lots of different types of patients. I do know they consider what patients get sent to the unit as I'm a new nurse. There was an orientation...though I think often as a new grad one is reluctant in taking your "first flight"!

I think for me, I'll ultimate fare better with a reduction in hours. Some like the 12 hr days, but I think I'm finding out I'm not one of them; especially with the pace of things as they are. So I'll keep agoin' and see if I can make that change. It doesn't hurt to keep my eyes open to other opportunities as I figure out what my niche is too. And it's true I'll need to keep working on just concentrating on my own responsiblities and "stuff"...and learn to deflect habitual negativity.

Also good luck in your med/surg position. I do think it'll offer you a lot of different experiences.

Thanks for everyone's thoughts.


517 Posts

I agree that 5 tele patients is often too much....our hospital usually has 1:4 ratio on these units -- pretty much because the nurses were burned out and leaving when they had the ratio higher.

If you feel another unit would be a better fit, then request a transfer. No sense killing yourself off so you can put in time before a transfer.

Finally, do you have any control over your schedule that would allow you to schedule yourself for something other than 3 in a row?


548 Posts

When I went through my new grad orientation, we were told that research has demonstrated a clear trajectory for satisfaction level of new grad RNs. Supposedly there is a "honeymoon" phase for a few weeks, which is followed by a period of unhappiness for a few months (where the new nurse feels overwhelmed, even depressed, and often questions her/his career choice). Eventually the new RN climbs out of that period & begins to feel more self-assured, capable, and less stressed at about the six month mark. Finally, she/he can even start liking the job & exiting the "novice" period around 1 year.

I was skeptical when learning this in orientation, yet sure enough, I and everyone else in my group (about 30 of us) were all where research said we would be each time we met (ie. at the 3, 6, and 12 month points).

I wanted to quit at 3 months. I hated my job & felt overwhelmed. By one year, I felt much more relaxed & capable, and my job seemed soooo much easier. It really does take time to adjust to the new role.

As others have recommended, I would cut back on some of your shifts but give your floor a chance for at least a year. You'll be in a totally different place then.


166 Posts

I'm glad I found your comments as they very much match how I'm feeling. I've been out of nursing for eight years and have been working hard to get back into it. I've taken an 11-7 position in a long-term care facility. The people have been wonderful, but I feel something is missing. Part of me is excited about finally working as a nurse, but part of me is sad. I really feel more comfortable in a hospital as I have no backup where I am now. That really worries me. I know some nurses do nothing to help new nurses and make it miserable, but I feel they are usually the ones who know the least. I guess I'd rather have them than no one at all. I've chosen to try and find another position which is first shift. I have three children and I really thought third shift would work for us, but the more I get into this, the worse I feel about it. I feel bad not lasting long at the job I have now, but I'm not receiving the support they promised me and I need that starting out. I hope things work out for you. I'm sure they will!!

Tweety, BSN, RN

33,005 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac. Has 31 years experience.

Do what you have to do to take care of yourself. I hope that it gets better for you. I can certainly relate.

Specializes in PCCN. Has 20 years experience.

i started in february and I feel the same exact way you do . My floor sounds very similar - tele, and post plasties, and anything else in between. And I just can't keep up with the four- five if one goes bad. Same with the techs too- some don't do vitals, some do, so I have to always ask, which takes away from my time. I was joking to another new grad that we should have the new grad blues club. Those 12 hr shifts which end up being 14 hrs are a killer! It takes me a whole day to recover, and next week I have 3 12's in a row, one off then another 2 :eek: It was how I got scheduled I guess. I usually do 2 day 12's and 2 eve 8's. I would love to go part time, but Im the one carrying the insurance, so thats out. If you can swing it, maybe you'll break in easier with less hours- more time to recover mentally in between shifts. I know others are saying to make sure we take our breaks, but maybe they don't understand that we are ALREADY buried and behind, and by taking a break we will be even MORE behind, which to me is even more stressful than not eating or sitting down. The work will be done one way or another, and I'd like to get home before midnite! This is the stuff we should have learned in school but they didn't tell us!No wonder other nurses leave the profession, and I think the corporations(hospital administrations :uhoh3: ) will continue to see what they can get away with. After all, there will always be a new group of oblivious grads to replace those who see the light. On my floor, we have 3 new grads from dec, and 7 more for may! what does that say for seniority. Most of the nurses there have been there less than 5 yrs, and work per diem and pick their hours to make it tolerable for them. Oh well, enough rambling- sorry if i went OT. I certainly empathize with you. If you are able to find other employment let us know- or if you stick it out more power to you. Good Luck and best wishes- JR

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