Lost, Afraid and feeling like a failure...now what?

Nurses New Nurse

Published

  • by JVRB4
    Specializes in med surg.

I am hoping to find some good advice and maybe some insight. I graduated in May 2008, passed boards in June 08 and then took the summer off to spend with my kids and take care of my mother after her foot surgery. I finally took a position in one of the 2 hospitals withing 60 miles of my home. It was agreed that I would not have to take charge until I had been there atleast 6 months and I was told I would not have to work every other Sat and Sun as we would be changing to 1 wkend/month.

My first day of orientation on the floor my preceptor got sick and began vomiting in the cafateria where she remained (not the bathroom) until we went to the floor again. She eventually went home and I finished the day with someone else. That should have been my first clue. The next few weeks were all about the same awful. First of all we only had one CNA and she was only there for about 4 hours in the morning. If you were lucky she may take 1 or 2 pts and do baths, beds etc. Once she left it was all on the nurses which was never more than 3/shift. Most of the time each nurse had atleast 5-6 pts and it could go to 7 or 8 depending on adm. Additional help never. There was a unit sec to take orders and put them in the computer such as for labs, menu, x-ray etc but she too was only there for part of the time (never on Sun nights) and she usually left around 4pm. This meant the nurse was also responsible for order entry and putting new charts together for admitts if she was not there. The RN (only one per shift) was also responsible for reviewing and sighning off all new orders on charts, reviewing admit papers for all pts, of course RN was automatically charge for the shift, administering all IV push pain meds and starting all PCA pumps and changing med in pumps. All of this while still having her own pt load. They made pt assignments based on location so regardless of what was in the rooms you were assigned a group of rooms such as 110-115 because they felt it was easier to not have to run across the hall or whatever.

My preceptor was very nice however she spent most of the time just laughing and using good ol southern charm instead of really getting things done. Don't get me wrong she did take care of her pts we just had a different view of what that meant. If I am going to take a brief half way off to take a photo of a decub and I discover my pt is wet and needs changing then I am going to go ahead and do it but her favorite saying was "don't you worry honey we will get it all done, but that's just going to have to wait till later".

When I had been there 6 wks (still on orientation) the RN on shift (I didn't count yet since still orienting) decided I would be charge. At 8wks when she tried it again I refused. When I said no she asked why and I explained the agreement of 6 months due to being a new grad, she responded with "WHAT... must be nice, when I graduated I had to take charge my second wk". From that point on she was not very helpful.

Once I was off of orientation (the end of 8wks), NO one had time to help. Sink or Swim was the name of the game and I was definently sinking or so I felt. I was always scared. I never had time for a meal again because I always wanted to make sure all of my pts were clean, dry, fed and meds were given before I would go eat and by the time I would get to that point I would be told I had and adm coming or I had missed my time to go (everyone chose when they wanted to go to lunch first thing in the morning and if yours passed and you didn't oh well). I wasn't sure of meds so I would have to look them up, and I wasnt sure of some administrations (dilute or not etc), I was scared to death of the thought of a code. I always second guess myself so jump and run and be positive you know what you are doing is NOT me.

I finally just gave up, I couldn't take the stress anymore. I felt ill knowing I had to go to work, I cried almost everyday and I hated feeling so incompetent I mean all the other nurses there were doing fine and they all took lunch etc. Even the other new RN did great she was always calm, seemed to know her stuff and took charge after working 3 wks no problem.

Anyway I quit back in Dec and have been out of work since. I hated having to work every other wkend. My days off were usually in the middle of the wk when my husband was working and kids (now 14 and 10) were at school. I just don't know what to do. I loved making people feel better, showing them I cared. At the end of my shifts many of my pts asked if I would be there the next day and expressed what a good nurse they thought I was because I was so caring and took the time with them. I guess if caring and patience was enough I would be great but its not. I am not very good at starting IV's and no one wants a nurse who needs someone else to start her IV's half the time and there is so much I either didn't learn or have forgotten.

Now I am just lost. I feel like a complete idiot. I always felt stupid for asking questions especially more than once like how to set up an IV for an infant. I feel like I didn't actually learn anything in school. I graduated with honors, passed board on my first try with 75 questions and feel like a failure as a nurse. Now what? There is the hospital 10 min from my home but I don't know if they will even consider me since I quit my 1st job after only 2 and 1/2 months and without giving notice (I was not scheduled for 2 more days and I did offer to come back and work that Sat to finish that pay period but was told not to worry about it they were covered). Even if I did get the job I don't know if I can do it after all I couldn't the first time and now its been just over a year since I graduated and 7 months since I have worked at all. NOW WHAT???????????:bugeyes::cry::cry: Sorry Sooooo Long!

PAERRN20

660 Posts

Specializes in ER.

(((((HUGS))))) To you! That sounds like a nightmare. I would have quit too. How scary! At least you still have your license.

Hi, maybe try working in a LTC for some meds experience. I wouldn't be so hard on yourself after all you are a new nurse and it takes time to get the hang of it. I wouldn't worry about the IV's, alot of hospitals have IV teams. If this is your dream then don't run from it. It is going to take time, most nurses I know were scared to death the first year.

Diaper, RN

87 Posts

I'm so sorry to hear that. When I was a new grad, I had a very traumatizing experience. As a result, I had very low self-esteem and felt very discouraged about nursing in general.

Fortunately, I found another job in the critical care field. In contrary to my previous experience, everyone's so supportive and I began to regain my confidence at work.

Sometimes, I believe that everything happens for a reason. By working in a stressful situation, it makes you to become stronger and more proficient in your time management skills. Please don't feel discouraged and you should try and find a job in the hospital because every place is different. Hopefully, the nurses will be more supportive.

Take care.

JVRB4

43 Posts

Specializes in med surg.

Thank you so much to everyone who has replied. I have wanted to be a nurse since I was 10yo. I moved to Richmond and went to a community college right out of high school and in my second semester had an instructor blast me on the floor infront of everyone for asking a med administration question. She said if I was too stupid to figure it out on my own then maybe I shouldn't be a nurse. At 17yo and being a shy person with low self-esteem I decided she must be right and quit.:crying2: In 2006 my aunt was fighting lung cancer and being the only one in the family with any medical experience/knowledge I took care of her. She continuously encouraged me to try again so at 33yo I started back at a cc closer to home. I began classes in late Aug, had my husband adm to a hospital for heart failure the second wk of school and my aunt passed on Sept 21st.:cry::uhoh21::bugeyes::cry: My last words to her were about how I would not only finish school this time but I would do my best and make her proud. The sad thing now is I don't know if I am just not cut out for nursing, have I done all of that work for nothing or am I just the result of a bad environment and poor preceptor (not a good fit for me)for my first job. I have been thinking about this for months and just don't know if it is/was me that is the failure or the situation with the first job. There is only one more hospital within 60miles of my home so if I go there and fail then thats it I'm done. I have children, a husband and an 84yo grandmother to care for so I can't move or work any further away from home. The Dr. offices, schools, nursing homes/LTC only hire LPN's and even if they will hire RN they usually don't have openings (very small town, rural area people get in good jobs and stay forever). I am just so afraid, afraid of hurting a pt, doing something really stupid and basically just being "found out" that I am stupid and a wanna be nurse. In this town if one person figures it out then everyone will know.

Please anyone with opinions/insight let me know what you think, Brutal Honesty. Especially you more seasoned nurses. Would you want me to work for you?

Diaper, RN

87 Posts

have you tried mollen clinics? they're hiring new grads. it's a seasonal position. basically, you can schedule the locations (anywhere in the united states) and time. all you need to do is to give flu shot to the public. i signed up already but haven't started working yet. after you apply online, the hr will give you a call within the next couple of days.

http://www.flushotsusa.com/

please don't give up ! good luck.

tempest

50 Posts

Specializes in Psych.

try a different specialty if you can.

JVRB4

43 Posts

Specializes in med surg.

I did apply for a PRN position in the Psych dept back in Jan. They wanted me to come in a shadow a nurse for a day and make sure I wanted it. They finally called me in March to schedule the shadowing which I did the next wk. After I finished the shift I spoke to the Director and he left it as he would speak with 2 other people (forgot there positions in the hospital) and he hoped to have me start by April 1st. He never called me back after that. Again only 2 hospital in the area so choices limited. There are only a few depts at either that will hire inexperienced nurses they are med/surg/peds, med/surg/telem or PCU and ICU and Psych in one of them. But thank you for the suggestion.

Moogie

1 Article; 1,796 Posts

Specializes in Gerontology, nursing education.
Thank you so much to everyone who has replied. I have wanted to be a nurse since I was 10yo. I moved to Richmond and went to a community college right out of high school and in my second semester had an instructor blast me on the floor infront of everyone for asking a med administration question. She said if I was too stupid to figure it out on my own then maybe I shouldn't be a nurse. At 17yo and being a shy person with low self-esteem I decided she must be right and quit.:crying2:

First of all, as an instructor and someone who loved teaching enough to want to go back to grad school so I can teach again :bugeyes: I think your instructor was the one who had no business being a nurse! No question is ever stupid! It's stupid to pretend you know, not ask, and then make a mistake! I am so sorry you went through this. What happened to you is a crying shame and a loss to the nursing profession. :angryfire

In 2006 my aunt was fighting lung cancer and being the only one in the family with any medical experience/knowledge I took care of her. She continuously encouraged me to try again so at 33yo I started back at a cc closer to home. I began classes in late Aug, had my husband adm to a hospital for heart failure the second wk of school and my aunt passed on Sept 21st.:cry::uhoh21::bugeyes::cry: My last words to her were about how I would not only finish school this time but I would do my best and make her proud. The sad thing now is I don't know if I am just not cut out for nursing, have I done all of that work for nothing or am I just the result of a bad environment and poor preceptor (not a good fit for me)for my first job. I have been thinking about this for months and just don't know if it is/was me that is the failure or the situation with the first job. There is only one more hospital within 60miles of my home so if I go there and fail then thats it I'm done. I have children, a husband and an 84yo grandmother to care for so I can't move or work any further away from home.

Sweetie, your self-esteem has really taken a hit from this. I don't think that it's that you "aren't cut out for nursing" but you have had a bad experience in your first RN position. You've had a massive amount of stress in the last few years. Plus, you probably feel extra pressure, trying to take care of your family and do right by your late aunt. Maybe if things weren't so stressful in your life, it would be easier for you to cope with the job situation and not feel so bad. I don't think even those of us who are seasoned nurses would be able to deal with everything you've had on your plate.

The Dr. offices, schools, nursing homes/LTC only hire LPN's and even if they will hire RN they usually don't have openings (very small town, rural area people get in good jobs and stay forever). I am just so afraid, afraid of hurting a pt, doing something really stupid and basically just being "found out" that I am stupid and a wanna be nurse. In this town if one person figures it out then everyone will know.

Definitely try that hospital only ten minutes away from your home. I don't know what to tell you about your previous experience. I think there are some who would say that because you quit within 90 days of your employment you would not have to mention it on a job application or resume. Still, it was your first job experience and you don't want to give the impression that you've been off all this time. Maybe others can give some ideas?

One thing---do not, in any way, badmouth your previous employer or give the impression that what happened was all their fault. Even if you have worked in the worst place on Earth, don't say anything negative about it. You will leave your potential employer wondering if you blame others for your problems and if you will someday badmouth them if you leave. I'm not even sure it would be a good thing for you to look for a job right now when you're feeling so fragile. You may need some more time to heal. You also need to build your self-esteem. Some people find that talking to a therapist, a member of the clergy, a mentor or former nursing school instructor might be helpful. Others---myself included---have found tremendous support in the AN forum here.

I know exactly what you're saying about life in a small town. For many of us, commuting is a necessary "evil". Maybe, though, you could use your connections to let people know you're looking for a job. Can you mention it, say, next time you go to the clinic or when you run into someone you know who works LTC? You might also do very well in home health. Your skills in taking care of your grandmother could be a plus in getting a position as a home health nurse.

Please anyone with opinions/insight let me know what you think, Brutal Honesty. Especially you more seasoned nurses. Would you want me to work for you?

I would. I'd be happy to have you for an employee, a co-worker or a student. You seem motivated, caring and sensitive. You do need to boost your self-confidence so I'd probably want to take you under my wing. I've been where you are in terms of self-esteem. Please don't give up. You have a lot to offer. :icon_hug:

ange26s

83 Posts

wow, I cant imagine a hospital asking a new grad to be charge after 2-3 wks.I would say that is a horrible expierence.At my hospital (im n orientation now) we are in orientation for 3 wks in nursing core classes, we precept for a min. of 6 weeks and then we meet with our nursing educator every friday for 3 months.We have to be checked off on all of our skills, and we are NOT expected to know anything at this point.I know nurses that have 3 years experience and still feel uncomfortable.My PCM told me during my interview she didnt expect me to be fully functioning till around November or so.The hospital I work for does not throw you to the wolves,That to me is compromising patient safety and ruining your self-esteem.Do not put yourself down and dont settle for less.Try to locate a hospital that has a strong orientation for new grads.When given the oppurtunity you will become more confident.You have the heart, you just need the skill enhancement taught the right way.I wish you the best!

nkara, CNA

288 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg/Pedi/Tele.

Doesn't sound much different than the med/surg floor I was on.

Try a clinic maybe?

JVRB4

43 Posts

Specializes in med surg.

Thank you Moogie for everything you said. To have someone with your experience share that view/opinion really helps. You are right this site is a sort of therapy and I guess I do need that. I know it sounds silly or childish but it does help the confidence some to have other nurses especially those with years of experience tell you that you are not an idiot and the situation was more the problem. It also really helps to step back and get a little perspective.

You know the funny thing is I have been thinking about my work experience and I really can think of only a few mistakes I made. The worst one being when I started my first IV on my own with no one in the room I wiped the area then rubbed my gloved finger over it to check for the spot I wanted to go in at and then forgot to rub it with alcohol wipe again before inserting needle. The only other things I did was leaving an enema for the next shift (didn't have time) and while with my preceptor one of her pts needed his brief changed and she decided "we" would do it after we had lunch but by the time we got back on the floor the supervisor was already angry (I agreed with the supervisor but I still let her make the decision and went along with her "nursing judgement"). The event that finally made me quit was a transfer. I had 5 pt to start, 3 total care, 1 transf, 1 self care. NO CNA and a cn who wouldn't help. No one would walk me through the transfer process (paper work, calls needed, pt prep), the pts IV was infiltrated at the start of shift and she was complaining of pain, 2 other pts IV's had to be changed and one pulled hers out. All the cn and secretary did was ask me if I had done this or that and when I said no I didn't know I needed to they would roll there eyes and tell me I needed to get moving that the other hospital was waiting. I hadn't even started giving any 0800 meds because I was told to get moving on the transfer @ a little after seven and then the IV problems etc. It was crazy and I felt incompetent, stupid and slow. My pts did not get good care that day but it was the best I could do. I didn't have time to even feed my total cares properly (1-2 bites and then run to the next thing and come back later and do it again). I didn't have the heart to see pts that I was responsible for being treated like that by me. I didn't want to become the nurse that just does whatever she has to do to get through the shift and move on and stop caring that they are human beings she is caring for. They are someones mother, father, sister, uncle or whatever and they are lying in their own urine/feces and looking at their tray of food while their tummys growl unable to do anything themselves while their nurse runs around like a chicken with its head cut off just trying to survive or no longer cares because she knows she can't do anybetter with the system the way it is so whatever happens happens. I became a nurse to help people not be part of the problem and not just to earn a big paycheck. I wanted to be the kind of nurse that pts remember as having cared and who made a positive difference.

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