Published Mar 20, 2001
Hi, my name is Laura and as I said, I graduate in 2 months. Two months exactly, actually. The other day in clinical, I realized I am not ready and maybe I never will be. I never think of everything I am supposed to think about. I can't look at a patient and know what I need to do, what I need to assess. My critical thinking skills leave something to be desired as well. I am thinking that maybe I should apply for a local school nurse position, it's really an LPN position, and the pay is awful, but I wouldn't have the awesome responsibilities that I would as a nurse in a hospital. I do SO well in theory class, but lately, as graduation gets closer, it seems that's not enough. I don't think I have the kind of sense needed to put the theory into practice. I do almost as well in clinical, but I know clinicals aren't real life, either. I've had people tell me this is normal, but I don't know. I really feel inadequate. Help!
You will do fine...you know a lot more than you think you do. Once you have confidence, you will find that the answers in your head were always right in the first place and that you are a good nurse. Feeling overwhelmed is normal (and good because it makes you look at things twice). You will be ok.
It's extremely normal to be afraid starting out. When your hired into a hospital facility you are oriented for an extended period of time before you're on your own. Trust me they aren't going to just throw you out there unprepared. Just take a few deep breaths and relax. It will all come together in time.
Laura, any GOOD nurse feels inadequate and scared as she gets closer to graduation. The realization that the amount of knowledge and clincal finesse that you need seems to only grow bigger is VERY normal. If you were feeling like you knew it all, were SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ready to graduate, could take on anything, etc., that's when we'd get worried. Everyone is scared. Some put on a better poker face than others, but everyone, I promise you, is scared. It IS an awesome responsibility...but it's good that you realize that. Having respect for the license and the job is something that will actually work in your favor. Think about what you know...really KNOW...think about what you do well. Can you take vital signs? Do you have a good grasp of anatomy and pathophys? Do you listen well? I bet you have a much firmer grasp on everything than you give yourself credit for.
You'll really be okay. Don't sell yourself short, Laura! Think of how you felt as a little kid about to jump off the high dive for the first time...terrified, wondering how in the world your legs ever carried you to the top of that ladder in the first place, and how you were ever going to be able to MOVE YOUR LEGS to jump!! But then somehow, you jumped...and your heart leapt into your throat, and you screamed with terror and delight all at the same time. And when you hit the water, you were so excited that you could hardly wait to climb that ladder again and start all over. Nursing is just like that. It's terrifying, exhilirating, and wonderful all at the same time. Just close your eyes and jump...I bet you'll enjoy the ride!
[This message has been edited by kday (edited March 19, 2001).]
I think that because nursing school is so intense, we all go a little looney towards the end. I know that I had about a month off between graduation and boards/starting work. I went thru a pretty severe depression that I only recognized after I was thru it. I spent that month laying around the house, doing minimal studying, very little housework, reading romance novels. I scared the crap out of my husband! I've talked with others who say they went thru a weird time, too. I think it has to do with eating, sleeping, breathing nursing school for 2-4 years and then being cut loose abruptly into the big, bad world.
Perhaps you can seek a position at a facility with a strong mentoring program to help you. Just don't think you're alone in how you feel. Anxiety comes in many different forms and manifests itself differently in everybody. If you are having a hard time dealing with it on your own, remember what you learned in psych: there is no shame in seeking help outside yourself.
Hey there Laura we're in the same boat! well before anything else congratulations to you in your up coming graduation day!! Well actually I just graduated last Sunday March 18 from a nursing school I took the BSN program, and now I am so anxious of mainly taking the Board Exam I don't know if I can pass it but I'm hoping I can because I know for the past four years of my study I did study hard and good and even accpeted awards during the graduation rights... I am so excited but also nervous...I'm just telling my self now that it is all normal to feel like this and all i need is to focus on my review and once this is all through I can go places.....LUCK ON YOU!!
purplemania, BSN, RN
Just hang in there. Every good nurse has the same fears. You will find it all coming together once you start practicing. Try writing down at the end of each work day one thing you learned. The list will get long and you will get tired of doing it. But,it will show some accomplishments. No one was born knowing this stuff.
I did awesome in theory too, and yet clinicals petrified me! I did great, but noone knew the extent of anxiety I suffered as I drove home after every clinical time...did I miss something? Oh my gosh, what if... did I forget to... etc. I wound up on anxiety medication over it. I graduated June of 2000. I also have a harder time than some with critical thinking, and it doesn't "come natural" to me at all. But I am working in abusy hospital setting and doing great. I just have to be really organized and write everything down, and I am a very good nurse, I just have to work harder at it!! Best of luck.
I have worked with so many new grad nurses and I have some advice to share (I only hope I will take it when I am getting ready to graduate) there are so many resources you can go to for help its not like school you can always look at a book its not a test. We have an IV team and excellent charge nurses at the hospital i work at Im sure you will have excellent people to go to for help.
I want to thank you all for the encouraging words. I plan to stick around this place! I am still terrified, the knot in the middle of my chest is still there when I think about being a nurse (which I do ALL the time!), but now at least I have a place where I can go with my fears. I have an interview/walk-through at the small local hospital today, so we'll see what happens. Thanks again!
I put RN after my name to practice and accept that is who I am and will be in 2 months, too. I am graduating at the top of my class but feel like I'm at the bottom of the barrel with clinical know how. Most of my peers are LPN's or have a good deal of hospital/medical experience. I complained to a professor, the other day, that I don't feel like I have gotten experience in a number of areas; foley's, ng tubes, IV insertions, and on and on.... I was told not to worry that I would get that experience on the job like she did. (and what about "crashing" patients? scary, huh?) I don't know that I liked that answer in that I feel like I should have been taught that with the one or two patients we are assigned to because we would have the time. I wonder if the real reason is because we are working under our teachers license and they don't want the responsibility. What ever the reason I know I'm not alone and that our real education begins when we go to work.
I do know that I will seek out the right hospital/unit that has a good orientation program (class and one on one) and most importantly of all; find the mentor/preceptor that I can stick with to really teach me the skills I need to be the best nurse I can. With this shortage it might be easy to go with the highest paying with sign on bonuses. But, if it comes down to a choice of high pay and lousy, short orientation or lower pay but lengthy orientation and good support afterwards, I know I'll pick the lower pay one(even if my spent savings tell me otherwise.) The money will come later on but good, qualified, confidence building experience is invaluable to me at this stage of the game. Patience and the ability to ask lots of questions, I believe, is what will make us!~
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