Lack of support vs incompetence


Hi all, 

I have been a Nicu nurse for going on 3 years now. I feel like everyone says you get more confident after the first year and there are certainly days where I feel very confident, but I feel like I also have days where I just miss something and I feel like I shouldn't even be a nurse. I don't know if I just have a massive amount of anxiety and I'm letting it eat at me or if my performance is the issue. For example

I recently admitted a baby from the ED the mom had unfortunately passed away and baby was taken to NICU placed on an EEG we started pressors, giving keppra, phenobarbital, cryo, FFP, placed on a cooling blanket for a horrible gas, got a UAC UVC etc. Our docs had decided to switch the art line fluids 3 times to the point where I was scrubbing art line fluids and keppra/ phenobarbital on to the UVC/ UAC at the same time so I didn't have to keep donning sterile gloves/ preparing a sterile field. I lost my art line wave form at one point couldn't figure out why so I had another nurse come look at it. When I scrubbed the sodium acetate on the art line in the cluster of things I was doing I scrubbed it directly onto the hub completely bypassing the transducer so obviously I wasn't getting a wave form. This mistake didn't hurt the patient they would've gotten the sodium acetate regardless through the arterial line, but my coworkers were understandably frustrated with me. In that moment I almost started crying honestly. We sterilely prepared another art line got the wave form back and all was fine, but events like this have really made me wonder whether I am cut out to be a nurse. I don't feel like I have a ton of people to talk to about this my friends all seem happy in their nursing careers and I'm not sure my coworkers even like me. I'm just extremely frustrated with myself and don't know where to go from here. 



4,123 Posts

Specializes in NICU. Has 8 years experience.

You were caring for a high acuity baby. I am assuming that they were treating the baby for HIE (cooling, Keppra, Phenobarbital, EEG). Is it common for your charge nurses to assign a high acuity patient to an incompetent nurse? Every nurse, regardless of their years of experience and skill level, has a busy assignment, get stressed out and make stupid mistakes. Cut yourself some slack. It has happened to us all numerous times in our career. Your issue is not incompetence, but lack of realization that you were drowning and needed help. Your coworkers should have been asking you if you needed help throughout your busy period, but it is up to you to ask for help if they don't volunteer.