Need advice: I have bad anxiety before I go to work.


I am a newer grad and have been working in an ICU for one year in June 2009. I have been getting kudos from my coworkers and compliments on how I have been doing so far. The problem is that as time goes on I should be getting more confident in my abilities but instead I am getting anxiety. I start worrying about work the day before I have to go in. I think about if I'll have a terrible night, have a difficult family, or just one of those crazy hairy nights. I work night shift and have had some whoppers so far and I have handled them fine.

I just don't know where this anxiety is coming from. Sometimes I just want to cry before I go to work. The staff is great and is always helpful. I enjoy the focused care of just the two patients and and most nights are fine. The main problem is that resources and dr's aren't around during the night which makes things crazy sometimes. I wanted to get two years experience in ICU because I have heard some specialties like that two year background. I just don't know what to do. I used to handle stress fine. I just wish I could have a job I enjoy and have fun doing. I think I'd like something more uplifting and fun, yet I like the learning oppertunities of the ICU. Any advice on how to deal with my anxiety situation. It is to the point that I hate my job and dread going to work!!!


19 Posts

Specializes in SICU, Neuro ICU, Trauma ICU, CCU. Has 3 years experience.

It took me about 2-3 years before I quit having anxiety about going into the unit. All I can say is it takes time. It sounds like you have a good team. That makes all the difference. Just remember caring for any critically ill patient requires a whole team and you are never alone.

I understand how you feel. I graduated in May 08 and have been working in the Neuroscience ICU in Detroit ever since. There are many nights I worry about being able to provide the necessary care it takes to care for those high acuity pt's. We are a teaching hospital so I have residents and NP's available which really helps. I try not to work more than 3 nights in a row and getting plenty of sleep on my days off is a must. Also being able to talk to my friends who are also "new" to nursing lets you sort of de-brief, which is really important. Sometimes ppl still make fun of me because I always have my 2 ton backpack with me with all of my resources, books, and a scrapbook I put together with important tid bits I collected. It's kinda like my security blanket I can look anything up that I need, it's kinda a work in, you're not alone, there are many of us "newbies" out there. Hang in there, but if the job is seriously impacting you in a negative way you might wanna think about other options, only you know what's best for you. Right now with the nursing shortage there are tons of options out there. Good luck to you....Brigitte


2 Posts

Specializes in Cardiac ICU, Neuro ICU, Burns.

Hello Funny girl,

I am sorry that you are feeling such anxiety about your work but, I must tell you that it is very normal. first of all you are working on the night shift which I believe is a poor choice for a new ICU nurse. You simply do not have the resources that are critical for you in the first few years. There are sooo many unknowns for you right now and you need your clinical educator, your Nurse Manager and Doctor support. An ICU nurse, once she is experienced is very autonomous.. and at times the leader in a patients care. Many times, as you become more experienced you will be offering solutions to the MD. But, when you are a new nurse it is not possible to do that. Hence, your anxiety. Even though you are getting kudos from your piers, they can not give you the knowlege that only time and experience can... I strongly suggest you switch to the Day shift until you are more experienced..

all the best to you and dont give up.. you will be so rewarded for your work I promise.

Karin Schweers rn Neurosurgical ICU (JFK Medical center) WPB


793 Posts

Specializes in ICU/PACU. Has 10 years experience.

If it makes you feel any better.....I felt that way my 1st 2 1/2 years as a nurse. Seriously. I would pray (and I'm not religious) that my night would go ok.

YOu will get through this. Good luck.


11 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg, Day Surgery, ICU. Has 3 years experience.

It's comforting to know I'm not the only one who feels like this. I dread work and think about quitting all the time, but I know things will get better if I just keep at it. So that's what I've been doing. I have 8 more months until it'll be a year... I hope I can make it! I can't wait until I can go to day shift though, I think that'll make a huge difference!


1 Article; 465 Posts

Specializes in PICU/NICU. Has 14 years experience.

I was a new grad to the ICU also... I can totally relate. I remember praying in the shower getting ready for an "easy" assignment... I was so scared of making a mistake and looking like a fool, saying the wrong thing to a family member, or even worse- harming a patient. I can remember thinking- how are they letting me take care of an actual patient?? But they did because I was ready and able- and so are you!

I can also remember going through a peroid(right around 9 months into my first year) thinking that I had made the wrong choice and kinda hating my job too. I wanted to have "jucier" assignments but I was still not confident in myself that I could handle it. I compaired myself to fellow new grads that started before or after me and wondered why they were chosen for a specific assignment and not me. I wondered if I had to prove myself. I wondered if the experienced nurses thought I asked too many questions or not enough. Did the docs take me seriously? I remember going through a phase where I thought screw this- and I started looking at the posting for floor and clinic positions. Then, I realized that ICU was what I really wanted to do- so I decided to tough it out. Well 14 years later..... I can't imagine working in any other area. I think, for me, it was gaining confidence and that takes time!

I think for new nurses in general it takes 1-1.5 years to get into a groove... and I think for ICU new grads it is more like 2-3 years before they really built that confidence. Hang in there. :redbeathe


47 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg, Oncology, Tele, ICU.

omg, thank you for posting this!!!! i worked on the floor for 13(ish) months before coming to the icu, but i still have those sick feelings most days and i've been there almost a year. it's usually never as bad as i think it will be and most of the time i feel like i'm waiting for someone to call me out and tell me to stop pretending to be a critical care nurse. in fact, most days i don't even want to go to work because just thinking about it drains me. however, most of the people i work with are great/very helpful and that helps a lot.

i'm just glad i'm not the only one taking a long time to adjust!:redbeathe


6 Posts

Oh honey, I feel your pain. I am too, a recent graduate who has gone into Neuro ICU. I felt very confident when I first started but as times goes on, I am losing all self confidence that I ever had. ICU is a very tough and demanding place. You have to be able to think quickly on your feet........and thats fine when you know EXACTLY what you are doing and know your meds and protocols. But for us new grads who are learning the ropes, its a nightmare. I have been told..........just stay calm and keep doing what you are doing. It is going to take you a year to a year and a half to feel confident. I just don't see it. Maybe they know something that I dont know. I am taking it on my own to go out and buy different kinds of drug books with drip factors and dosage calculations and such in it to help prepare me for work. Every piece of infomation that I get from CCN class or another nurse will go into my book for quick reference. If I don't get the help that I need from my preceptor , then by God I will get it on my own!! And no sweetie, you are not the only one taking time to adjust. Everyone that I talk to is struggling. Just to know we are not alone is a blessing in itself.


51 Posts

I feel your pain. seriously, its a difficult job and it causes a lot of anxiety. its a painful learning process sometimes but i think it just takes time. My first couple years in icu were tough but I got more comfortable.

besides gaining experience, it really helped me to try and learn outside of work. i read icu, ekg and anesthesia books and research new things online. also I studied for the ccrn this year.

I still run into new problems that i don't know how to handle sometimes at work but knowledge helps.


54 Posts

Specializes in ICU.

YAY!! This all means your a smart nurse!! Sounds like you understand the gravity and seriousness of your role and you respect that you are caring for another human being. Honestly, I have always thought someone entering any healthcare field should feel nervous and concerned about their performance for the first few several years, better that you know there's more you don't know than be the new person who is so over-confident they don't realize what they don't know. Which in the ICU makes all the difference. :) Hang in there!! Sounds like your in a supportive place!!

RN Joe 86

21 Posts

Specializes in CCRN, MICU, CCU. Has 10 years experience.

I think being a new nurse on nights is particularly difficult. Lack of resources, rounds and other learning opportunities can make you feel alone. Try exercising and reading a book or magazine before you go into work. It definitely helps ease my nerves kind of gives me an energy boost.

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