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I don’t fit in, and my coworkers think I’m an idiot

Nurses   (670 Views | 7 Replies)
by Newbie4567 Newbie4567 (New) New Nurse

89 Profile Views; 13 Posts

Hey ya’ll.

I’m a new nurse, I graduated May 2019 and started in my current job in August. I was hired into an ICU, and even now I feel like I don’t fit in. I feel like a giant fraud, a failure, and like I come across as a moron to everyone I interact with.

I always did well in nursing school, and I graduated with honors. I worked in a high acuity floor as a tech for a year before starting in this role. I felt as prepared as I could be, but from day 1 my coworkers have made it abundantly clear that they don’t believe I should have been hired, purely off of my new grad status. This came from everyone, from regular staff nurses to the nurse educator to my own preceptors.

Orientation went badly. My two preceptors were on two different planets with what they expected from me. One, quite frankly, was lazy and didn’t seek out opportunities to teach me different skills. The other was overly intense and helicoptered me, giving me no room to grow on my own. He also made disparaging comments towards me when he was frustrated. For example, “You’re just like a boy! You don’t look for anything on your own!” and once when I expressing concern about a patient, he rolled his eyes and said “you say that about everyone”. At the end of my orientation, he blindsided me and told my manager that I wasn’t ready to be on my own. He had never given me that feedback, just that he felt I was doing well.

Going into work every day, I always felt so anxious about everything on my plate, everything I had to remember, and the stress of my preceptors that I didn’t put in much effort to make friends. I really wanted to, but I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t even focus on it. I’m a naturally shy person as well, and it was intimidating initiating social interaction when all of my coworkers are best friends. Despite being shy, I’m usually good with making friends. I try just to be as nice and helpful as possible, but no one seems to want that from me.

Since being off orientation, I feel slightly better, like there are some nurses that I could consider myself friendly with, but the vast majority seem to have this disdain for me. No one is friendly, no one is kind, people roll their eyes when I ask them questions. Even when I try to be helpful, my coworkers just seem annoyed by me. Everyone gossips, and I’m always afraid that one stupid thing that I say is going to end up spreading around my unit behind my back. One time, a coworker texted me at home to tell me about a small, inconsequential mistake I made. This person went out of their way to make me feel bad at home, about a small mistake that I had never made previously. Even my manager, during my evaluation, said “We weren’t sure if you’d be a good fit into our family. Like does this girl even talk?”.

The only nurses that I seem to get along with are in the pool. Everyone else has a palpable dislike for me. I’m stuck here in a two year contract and I really wanted to make this job work. I can’t even explain how grateful I am to the few nurses that are nice to me, because they’re keeping me from feeling terrible all the time.

What can I do? How can I help myself?

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11 Followers; 3,899 Posts; 30,827 Profile Views

ICU is one of the hardest units to break into. I’m not surprised this is happening. I’ll give you my best advice. 1. There’s a good bet it’s them, not you. Try to make this your mantra. Unless it is you. Really take a hard look at yourself. 2. Find the least obnoxious senior nurse and throw yourself at his/her mercy. By that I mean ask them to take you under their wing. Tell them you want to succeed but you’re off to a bad start. Ask them to show you how THEY do things so you can learn from someone who knows. “I’ve watched you change art line tubing and you do it so fast. Can you show me how you do it?” Yeah, it’s sucking up but it works. If you get one of them on your side things will improve, I promise. 3. If they call you at home listen to them once. Thank them for letting you know, have a good night and hang up. And lastly when you start hearing the “it’s not a good fit” talk there’s a good bet they are fixing to terminate you. Look for openings in other units and head them off at the pass. The next time you are called into the manager’s office if things start going south mention you would be interested in perhaps gaining more experience on another unit (that happens to have an opening). Transfers have far less paperwork then terms. Sorry you’re in this spot. I’ve been there as a new grad and it really, really sucks.

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13 Posts; 89 Profile Views

18 minutes ago, Wuzzie said:

ICU is one of the hardest units to break into. I’m not surprised this is happening. I’ll give you my best advice. 1. There’s a good bet it’s them, not you. Try to make this your mantra. Unless it is you. Really take a hard look at yourself. 2. Find the least obnoxious senior nurse and throw yourself at his/her mercy. By that I mean ask them to take you under their wing. Tell them you want to succeed but you’re off to a bad start. Ask them to show you how THEY do things so you can learn from someone who knows. “I’ve watched you change art line tubing and you do it so fast. Can you show me how you do it?” Yeah, it’s sucking up but it works. If you get one of them on your side things will improve, I promise. 3. If they call you at home listen to them once. Thank them for letting you know, have a good night and hang up. And lastly when you start hearing the “it’s not a good fit” talk there’s a good bet they are fixing to terminate you. Look for openings in other units and head them off at the pass. The next time you are called into the manager’s office if things start going south mention you would be interested in perhaps gaining more experience on another unit (that happens to have an opening). Transfers have far less paperwork then terms. Sorry you’re in this spot. I’ve been there as a new grad and it really, really sucks.

Thank you for responding. My evaluation with my manager ended with him telling me that I was doing a good job, but you’re right. The fact that he was even considering if I was right for the role terrifies me, and the only real reason he provided for me was that I wasn’t as social as the other nurses. I feel like I’ve been given a lack of constructive feedback. There is one nurse I really admire, who is really nice. She precepted me one day, when one of my mains called out and she went out of her way to teach me and talk to me about how things were going. I just wish I had had that kind of support from my own preceptors. It's worth a shot to talk to her.

I’m trying to look at myself and my performance. I really think I say the stupidest things at work, without stopping to think. It makes me want to socialize even less. I can really see myself getting out of here when my contract is up.

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11 Followers; 3,899 Posts; 30,827 Profile Views

Every single one of us has experienced saying stupid things when our anxiety is high. You are in good company. Please, please seek out that nurse. She may make all the difference in your trajectory. Once you fit in with one often the rest follow. It may take a little time but it usually works.

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KatieMI has 6 years experience as a BSN, MSN, RN and specializes in ICU, LTACH, Internal Medicine.

2 Followers; 1 Article; 2,629 Posts; 43,936 Profile Views

.

Edited by KatieMI

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157 Posts; 4,046 Profile Views

I wouldn’t worry about fitting in. Just be helpful, friendly, and open to constructive criticism. You are not expected to be perfect. Remember, you only need about 12 months experience to be get in as a non new grad elsewhere (probably less). I know in at least some states those contracts are illegal. I broke mine and others have too with no consequences. They are just another way to use threats to control employees.

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1 Post; 27 Profile Views

I’m still a student, but I’m pretty old and my previous career was cutthroat AF.

my advice, stop giving a damn about fitting in. Let your work ethic and dedication to your patients speak for itself. Do everything you can to become beyond reproach, because the work isn’t about you, and it’s not about fitting in. It’s about your patient

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BradleyRN has 28 years experience and specializes in Med Surg, LTC, Home Health.

520 Posts; 6,577 Profile Views

Nurses stab each other in the back all the time. They will talk about the girl who isn't there, but when she's back, she will be in the circle talking about someone else who isn't there. Bored, unhappy people. Who cares what they say or think. One bad apple can spoil a whole unit. It sounds like yours has a few. Just remember this, treat new people good, and don't ever join in on the gossip. You are better than them. They didn't know squat when they came out of school, I assure you. Good luck! 😀

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