How long to be really comfortable?


I've worked in a small rural ER for the past 4 years (3 as a Tech and the past 14 months as an RN). I felt comfortable for the 3 years as a Tech but the past 14 months have me wondering if I really belong in the ER. I often feel like I'm making mistakes, though the other nurses say I'm doing great. I leave work feeling stressed out, unsure of myself and find that I replay my day in my head for days afterward. I made a med error about a month ago that really shook my confidence. Between that and the crazy flex schedule I'm working I feel like i should find something else. How long does it take to get really comfortable? Or is it time to cut and run and find something else?

Specializes in Cardiac and Emergency Department.

Everyone is different, but it took me every bit of two years to feel comfortable…Stay open for suggestions, seek feedback on your performance from people who will tell you the truth and never stop learning… Welcome to the ER!

Lunah, MSN, RN

33 Articles; 13,725 Posts

Specializes in EMS, ED, Trauma, CNE, CEN, CPEN, TCRN. Has 15 years experience.

Maybe some stability on your schedule would be helpful. I am not sure what your crazy flex schedule entails, but it sounds rather sleep-depriving! I was a paramedic/ER tech in my ER for 3.5 years before I became an RN in the same ER, and it is definitely a whole new level of responsibility and stress. Do you have a mentor at work that you can talk to about specifics? Good luck!!


9 Posts

Flex schedule means that today I'm working night shift, Tuesday could be a mid shift like 11-2300, Thursday I might be on day shift. Wherever there is a hole is where I'm put. It's hard in terms of sleep but worse in terms of family life. The nurses who were supposed to be my preceptors during orientation just let me take patients all alone and really treated me as an extra nurse right from the start. I just wasn't sure if I should feel more comfortable and confident at this point or if it takes longer and I was expecting too much of myself.


224 Posts

Everyone is different. Schedule is horrible though. If you are going to work overnights it really needs to be: you decide when (as in you work days but pick up a night here and there) or a dedicated night schedule. Some people never adjust to nights. I couldn't imagine working 3 different shifts in a week.

Second, if you're unsure, ask. Seek resources. Other RN's, docs, pharmacy, rt. You see everything. You are not expected to know everything. You are expected to know when to ask a question. You also would be best served knowing who to ask. People skills go a long way here.

If you liked it before, you will probably end up liking it as a rn.


8 Posts

Specializes in Emergency, CVICU, PICU, NICU, MICU, SICU. Has 17 years experience.

That schedule is BAD!!!!! I can honestly say that I was a straight ICU/CVICU/PPICU/NICU nurse for years before I went to the ED. There is a learning curve. You either treat them and street them or treat them and sheet them. I know that this sounds crazy but if you look at it its 100% truth. I think that you always wonder if things are going the right way in the ED. You have to remember that the ED is a fast paced beast and that it is OK to stop and take a breath to make sure that you are doing the right thing. I find that the people that work in the ED are your work family. Find some experienced nurses that you have a connection with and ask them what they think of ........ Trust me the nurses that have been there are more than happy to answer questions and if you find that all the nurses in your pod/tea,\m/section are busy call the charge nurse. That is what we are there for. In the ED it takes a few years for you to feel like you are in the A game. But remember that you can always question things that is our job and as you get more years in the more that you know and feel like you can stand your ground on.

I would get rid of that schedule because that will make you CRAZY!!! it is too hard to flip flop!! Been there done that!!

Good luck and I have been an RN for almost 17 years so I al happy to answer any questions that you might have. I have spent that later part of my career in the ED and I LOVE it!!

Best of luck

bgxyrnf, MSN, RN

1,208 Posts

Specializes in Med-Tele; ED; ICU. Has 10 years experience.

It took me probably 18 months to feel comfortable but that was in a large, urban ED with high census and high acuities so we saw a lot and experience came very quickly. I'd also been an ED nurse for 2 years already but in a small, rural ED that didn't see that much, that often.


2 Posts

I'm a ten year ER nurse, CEN and CPEN. I still feel like I'm making mistakes, and second guess myself. I only have one piece of advice for you. Ok, maybe two :-) 1. If you need to step away for a minute to get yourself back together, it's not just ok to do so, it's essential. You can't give the best of you to patients if you don't take care of your own needs first. I'very had to walk off alone to cry or vent many times. 2. At the end of your day, ask yourself "did I do everything I could to help?" You are only in control of your own actions and don't get to feel guilty over things out of your sphere of control. So if you can answer yes to that question, let it go. If you can't, think about what you could have done differently, learn from it, and then let it go. Discuss it with a support person or mentor if you feel it would help. And know that even seasoned ER nurses have a lot to learn.