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I put the blinders on and am regretting it

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I feel so, so stupid right now. The optimist in me said this entire time that I can handle an occasional bout of violence from a patient. But how would I even know that if I've never been assaulted in any way in my entire life? I am really upset at the thought that my first experience being assaulted will be in my chosen career. That's because I can't blame anyone else but myself. "I signed up for it". Like, duh, I should know that this is a common issue.

But I ignored it and thought maybe I could get by without experiencing it somehow. I tried my best up until now to no put too much thought into it so I could continue onward. Then, yesterday, I saw this video:

She basically says that, as a bedside nurse, she got assaulted EVERY DAY. She even got feces thrown in her face and got cellulitis on her optic ***ing NERVE. WHAT THE ***.

I want to help people and I love health science, pathophysiology, and teaching. However, I am realizing that I could have helped people in many other ways without risking being traumatized repeatedly and potentially permanently injured until I retire. It's these things that we don't talk about in nursing school. I still, can only blame myself. I thought I put enough introspection into this before deciding to go into nursing. Now I'm on my 5th quarter and I can't believe I'm even at this point.

Is there anyone who has encouragement for me? Is there any hope?

Edited by Arafelle

There are tons of jobs in nursing where patients are mostly unconscious, there are telemedicine jobs, you could become a rep for a pharmaceutical company, work in a dialysis clinic, work in the nicu or peds. I don’t think the nicu babies will assault you.....

I would get therapy for you exaggerated fears. I worked as a correctional officer for a year in a super max level 5 prison with some of the worst offenders in our nation. I was physically assaulted exactly zero times. I think you can handle one year of med/surg, ICU, or er before you move on to something low key or continue on toward NP certification.

Edited by anewmanx

Thank you.. After writing this, I think the cathartic effect actually released something. I feel like I could handle it now. Maybe it was something I just needed to process and delayed it until this moment. It's tough to come to terms with things that you believe to your core are unjust.

3 hours ago, Arafelle said:

Thank you.. After writing this, I think the cathartic effect actually released something. I feel like I could handle it now. Maybe it was something I just needed to process and delayed it until this moment. It's tough to come to terms with things that you believe to your core are unjust.

Life is unjust. We are creatures born with the capacity to ponder eternity with mortality forced upon us. Accepting the injustice of the human condition is the first step to personally not contributing to it through our future actions.

NICU Guy, BSN, RN

Specializes in NICU. Has 6 years experience.

4 hours ago, anewmanx said:

I don’t think the nicu babies will assault you

I deal with angry babies every day. Fortunately I can put them in a baby straight jacket (blanket swaddle), put a bottle in their mouth and they calm right down.

verene, MSN

Specializes in mental health / psychiatic nursing.

I work in inpatient psychiatry with a forensic population (aka patients who have been charged with crimes and are also mentally ill). Assault - even in this population - is NOT an everyday occurrence, or even an every week occurrence. I would guess the woman in the video either works in an extremely poorly run unit which does NOT prioritize safety or is exaggerating risks for effect.

I have been in health care since 2013 (7 years). I have been assaulted three times... once when a mentally ill individual attempted to break into the group home I was working at, and once by an elderly patient with dementia. I also had a patient pee all over the floor when I floated to a progressive-care unit and I wouldn't let them leave to go the the ED... but they were pretty intoxicated at the time. In no instance was I physically injured (more emotionally shook up). This isn't to say that there is NO risk of injury/assault in health care (one of my coworkers just took a bad punch to the head last week), but I wouldn't go into this field with the expectation of facing violence on a daily basis.

amoLucia

Specializes in LTC.

OP - Forgive me, I'm confused. Have you actually been assaulted in a true physical sense of the act? Or are you just extremely aware and fearful of the reality of potential violence? Esp as is potentially possible in nsg.

If having experienced real workplace violence, you should seek professional help. Hopefully, you completed an incident report and sought immed assessment. And since long-term depression or PTSD is poss, again prof help should be in order. Employers & schools offer EAP services.

As serious as experiencing real workplace violence is, I would postulate that a FEAR of it could be more incapacitating, devastating and immobilizing than the real thing.

So, if you're experiencing real fear, that requires serious introspection with counseling and help as nec.

Glad that your vocalization here helped. Just keep an open mind re more help.

Take care.

3 hours ago, verene said:

I work in inpatient psychiatry with a forensic population (aka patients who have been charged with crimes and are also mentally ill). Assault - even in this population - is NOT an everyday occurrence, or even an every week occurrence. I would guess the woman in the video either works in an extremely poorly run unit which does NOT prioritize safety or is exaggerating risks for effect.

I have been in health care since 2013 (7 years). I have been assaulted three times... once when a mentally ill individual attempted to break into the group home I was working at, and once by an elderly patient with dementia. I also had a patient pee all over the floor when I floated to a progressive-care unit and I wouldn't let them leave to go the the ED... but they were pretty intoxicated at the time. In no instance was I physically injured (more emotionally shook up). This isn't to say that there is NO risk of injury/assault in health care (one of my coworkers just took a bad punch to the head last week), but I wouldn't go into this field with the expectation of facing violence on a daily basis.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I needed to see that this experience in the video isn't universal. You did that for me.

If that experience were indeed common, it would be valid to say that it changes everything for nursing. Most people wouldn't put up with daily physical assaults, obviously.

I SO appreciate you sharing your experience in contrast to the one in the video.

Last night, I tried to find a similar post (before making this one) for encouragement and reassurance that nursing isn't all like this nurse's story in the video. Instead. all I found were additional stories and upsetting outlooks on assault and workplace safety. I had a hard time finding any statements from experienced nurses who have had only a handful of experiences regarding assault. I think it's one of those situations where you only hear about negative stories because no one talks about non-issues. It formed into confirmation bias pretty quickly for me.

I hope this post also provides comfort for other new-grads and potential nursing career-pursuers who want a clearer picture of what the various experiences are from different nurses. Others might stumble on horrifying assault stories if they dig into the internet too much, but not know who to ask: "Is it really this bad all the time?"

Us newbies really want to know what it's like from a variety of perspectives so that we can prepare ourselves as best as possible. Part of that is coming to terms with things that we are afraid of. Thank you again!

Edited by Arafelle

1 hour ago, amoLucia said:

OP - Forgive me, I'm confused. Have you actually been assaulted in a true physical sense of the act? Or are you just extremely aware and fearful of the reality of potential violence? Esp as is potentially possible in nsg.

If having experienced real workplace violence, you should seek professional help. Hopefully, you completed an incident report and sought immed assessment. And since long-term depression or PTSD is poss, again prof help should be in order. Employers & schools offer EAP services.

As serious as experiencing real workplace violence is, I would postulate that a FEAR of it could be more incapacitating, devastating and immobilizing than the real thing.

So, if you're experiencing real fear, that requires serious introspection with counseling and help as nec.

Glad that your vocalization here helped. Just keep an open mind re more help.

Take care.

Thank you for being so thoughtful. My earlier response was just me saying that after processing it, I think I could handle being in a potentially violent situation, even if I still fear it greatly.

I feel like I was going through the grief stages, if you know what I mean. And it did incapacitate me. I have to accept that it could happen to me and learn how to cope with that knowledge in the back of my mind.

You are right about fear being an issue in itself that needs to be addressed. I think one way to address it is to learn more about other experiences from nurses like you. How much do you experience assault? Is it really daily like this nurse said in the video?

I have not experienced physical violence. I only anticipate it and it is that anticipatory fear, as you pointed out, that is causing me great anxiety. I am going to work on finding ways to work through that fear, and I think this post is helping me in that direction as well.

I want to add something to all of this. When I look at how you all are responding, I see something incredibly wholesome. You guys have pointed out that I might need therapy/counseling a few times and that I am having exaggerated fears. I think you are all right. Because it is "my normal" I didn't really consider that my fears tend to be more intense and disproportionate to reality than they should be.

This could literally change everything for me: if it weren't for you all pointing it out, I might have never realized this pattern. I can now seek help in an area that I am more conscious of. I am so grateful.

This made me think about other times I have gone through these types of situations, where I mentally go to the worst case scenario in my head and react to it as if it were reality (in this case it didn't help that the lady in the Youtube video literally said something that was worst case scenario, haha).

I’m not a nurse yet, but I dealt with anxiety for years. You are not alone, and life is much better when you learn to cope with your normal. We are all different, we all have to learn to deal with the cards life hands us. No shame in that.

Here.I.Stand, BSN, RN

Specializes in SICU, trauma, neuro. Has 16 years experience.

Workplace violence is absolutely not an expectation, part of the job, what we signed up for.... none of that. Is it a possibility — sure. In my setting though (adult ICU), attempts to assault staff will buy that patient a set of 4-point restraints.

It is perfectly reasonable, when interviewing for jobs, to ask how specifically this issue is addressed in the facility.

It is also reasonable that if you WERE to be assaulted on the job, that you plan to take the same action as you would if you’re assaulted anywhere else. If you would report an assault by an intimate partner? If you were to report a random act of violence? You should also report assault by a patient. ACTIONS define assault.... perpetrators do not.

verene, MSN

Specializes in mental health / psychiatic nursing.

11 hours ago, Arafelle said:

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I needed to see that this experience in the video isn't universal. You did that for me.

I am very glad I was able to help put your mind at ease. This field isn't always easy, patients (and families!) will sometimes say mean things, sometimes there is chaos, and occasionally threat of physical violence (though in my experience it more often stays at level of verbal threat - but in my world we take even verbal threats very seriously), and exposure to some absolutely heart-breaking stories and past trauma. I agree with Here.I.Stand -- assault is assault - workplace violence or not, and my workplace can and does report assaults - be they against other patients or against staff - to the police. Even when a reported assault was unwitnessed by staff (and potentially questionable to have occurred due to unreliability of patient) we will start an investigation because our patients deserve this, and our staff deserve this.

I do think that online forums can skew towards the negative (including this one) because people are more often going to "vent" online than to post their major successes online. Perhaps because of the anonymity (real or perceived) online forums offer. There are also a number of RNs, who, for whatever reason, have become extremely unhappy with this field and who will actively try to discourage new RNs from joining.

Nursing is not a perfect job or a perfect field. There ARE negatives involved with this career path, but I would argue that is the case for ANY career path or job. It's about finding the pros/cons that you personally can live with - and with in nursing there is still room to move around - different specialties and different facilities have their own pros/cons as well.

I see you are considering counseling for anxiety in another post - I do recommend this not only for you but for anyone considering a major life change (of which starting a new career is one!). I personally struggled with severe anxiety in my past and have intermittently seen a counselor (and been on medication) -- it was a big help both prior to nursing school, and during nursing school, to have some one to process the experience with and to work on my own self-knowledge and self-growth. I will also say that nursing school seems to be a HIGHLY anxiety provoking time for many, and several of my peers who did not have anxiety issues before nursing school developed severe anxiety while in nursing school. Ultimately I am far less anxious now (working in a setting that many people seem terrified of) than I have been at any point earlier on in my life.

adventure_rn, BSN

Specializes in NICU, PICU.

On 6/21/2020 at 3:07 PM, anewmanx said:

I don’t think the nicu babies will assault you.....

They try, they're just not very good at it. 4-year-olds, on the other hand, will kick the absolute crap out of you if you have to hold them down for shots or IV sticks.

In all seriousness, when people say that they're assaulted on a daily basis, I wonder if they're referring in part to verbal assault and patients being rude or demanding. Honestly, some patients and families can be jerks, but that doesn't necessarily amount to verbal assault. It burns some people out over time, but others just start to ignore it.

I think that a lot of it has to do with how good your unit and facility are about setting boundaries and enforcing behavioral contracts. If facilities allow patients to act out without backing up their nurses, patients will act out more often.

Edited by adventure_rn

TriciaJ, RN

Specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory. Has 40 years experience.

I worked psych and corrections for the first half of my career. The worst that ever happened to me was elderly confused people striking out.

I have my suspicians about the woman in the video talking about being assaulted on a daily basis and keeping a big smile on her face. Some people love to sensationalize themselves.

On 6/24/2020 at 10:12 PM, adventure_rn said:

They try, they're just not very good at it. 4-year-olds, on the other hand, will kick the absolute crap out of you if you have to hold them down for shots or IV sticks.

In all seriousness, when people say that they're assaulted on a daily basis, I wonder if they're referring in part to verbal assault and patients being rude or demanding. Honestly, some patients and families can be jerks, but that doesn't necessarily amount to verbal assault. It burns some people out over time, but others just start to ignore it.

I think that a lot of it has to do with how good your unit and facility are about setting boundaries and enforcing behavioral contracts. If facilities allow patients to act out without backing up their nurses, patients will act out more often.

Haha, yeah. That would make sense. Verbal assault to me is not really assault. I worked in call centers and support jobs for years and had the worst things said to me. Those things you just have to brush off and not take it personally. 🙂

I've worked in 16 ERs over the last decade and I've never been specifically assaulted. I've been involved in restraining people where things were out of control but never have really taken a specific hit. Never been in direct contact with bodily fluids.

I definitely have anxiety about it happening and try to be aware. One of those things. If it's your time it's your time. Lately it bothers me more than it used to.

If I was getting assaulted regularly I would not be working there.

didi768

Specializes in VA, Ortho, Med/Surg. Has 25 years experience.

Don't let the devil put fear in you. He's a liar. Press on and go for it, you got THIS far