How long does it take to feel comfortable?

Nurses New Nurse


Im pretty sure this is one of the most commonly asked questions of new grad nurses.

I have asked MANY people this question and would like to get additional input.

When does one truly feel comfortable as a nurse? Does this vary depending on the person??

I know some people can catch onto the flow quite quickly, while others may take additional time.

Typically, I am a fast learner. I learn by doing things so I always look for the opportunity to try new skills, or learn something new.

With that being said, when did YOU feel comfortable as a nurse? Most of the people I have asked have said around the one year mark is when they felt like a good competent nurse.

What is your guys' opinion?

Specializes in OR, Nursing Professional Development.

Generally about a year. One of many reasons new grads should stick with a job for at least one, preferably two years. That first year as a nurse is miserable- dealing with the reality shock of real world vs nursing school, dealing with the realities of the job that nursing school just doesn't cover, and acclimating to being a working nurse. Leaving a job within that first year or two means starting over- and if one is continually starting over, how can one become competent?

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years).

Alexx, I like your questions in several threads here on It shows your interest, and hopefully dedication, to the field of nursing.

With that being said, I quote Horace who said, "(S)he who has begun has the job half done", so you're halfway there in your quest to feel comfortable.

Rose_Queen said it takes about a year and I agree that a year is a pretty good point-of-reference time frame. But I think back to when I broke into the most techy position of my nursing career which was working as a scrub nurse in surgery.

I was so driven to do a good job and had such an insurmountable interest in the area, that I literally ate, drank, and slept surgery. In the first three months, I was all thumbs and about as graceful as a bull in a china shop. But then, by six months, I was first-scrubbing on some major cases and some surgeons even requested that I first scrub with them.

With that, the amount of dedication and perseverance is a factor in how long it will take you to feel comfortable in your position. Youth is a factor too. We old dogs can also still learn new tricks but it takes longer, partially due to age and energy.

Godspeed, Alexx!

Specializes in critical care, ER,ICU, CVSURG, CCU.

My aggorant response day one.

But that is a reflection on nursing education, in early 70's........we had more 90%, more clinical experiences than today's nursing education model.

It appears to me with today's model, about a year is about right.

Specializes in Geriatrics w/rehab, LTC, hospice patient.

I've been a nurse almost 2 years and I'm still not completely comfortable.

Specializes in Case manager, float pool, and more.

I think it depends on the person, their clinical rotation (or lack of) and the setting they are in. That being said, I tend to see the newer nurses reaching their comfort level within 1-2 years. I don't think nursing students get the quality of experiences they need nowdays while in school. Schools assume all new grads will get into a nurse residency program( which those programs are wonderful for new grads )it seems. Just my opinion from what I see in my area.

I started in a specific ICU setting and it took me a solid two years to feel pretty darn comfortable. I felt like my head was finally above water around the first year.

Specializes in NICU.

A year starts the comfort level. After 18 mo. to 2 yrs I felt that I was fully comfortable in my job.

Specializes in IMC, school nursing.
I've been a nurse almost 2 years and I'm still not completely comfortable.

My standard response to new nurses is "it will take a year to make you feel like you know what you are doing, and three to say you are comfortable".

Specializes in LTC.

It really depends on the person and their personal confidence level. Everyone is different, and thus everyone learns differently. I think it can also depend on the area of nursing you start out in, such as ICU for example, where there would be a lot of things to learn and the patient acuity is higher.

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching.

It usually seems to take about a year to become comfortable and about two years to become competent. It took me longer.

Specializes in MedSurg, ICU.

@crush I want to second this opinion! I'm a (very) new nurse. While I'm enjoying my gig on a med surge floor, I would not classify myself as feeling "comfortable" in any way. There are three different schools doing clinicals on my floor. So unfortunately for students working with me, I accompany and walk them through any and all tasks I feel confident in being able to perform myself in order to "push" them into doing something they may be able to shy away from. I had a lot of teachers and nurses with a "do it if you feel you want to" attitude, so I did my fair share of shying away in school. I want to give these students opportunities to get their hands dirty and have the experience before entering the real world.

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