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need advice: new RN with doubts

First Year   (1,865 Views 24 Comments)
by newRN02 newRN02 (New Member) New Member

124 Visitors; 4 Posts


Im a new RN who graduated in may. I've been working for 2 months on a med surg floor at a highly respected hospital in my state. However, I do not feel that I am cut out for this line of work, at least hospital-bedside nursing.

I work the night shift, 7p-7a, which is extremely draining. My commute is about 45 minutes each way. I am now off of orientation and feel completely overwhelmed and terrified. I do ask for help when I need it, but I still feel so lonely and scared at work. I constantly have a lump in my throat like I am going to cry. I have spent countless nights crying before I leave the house or in my car on my way to work.

Not only do I hate working nights, both because of the stress it has on my body but also because I hate not being on the same schedule as my family and friends, but I also am starting to lose my motivation and passion for this line of work after only 2 months. I also am extremely upset that I have to spend time away from my family on holidays and weekends to work. I am scheduled to work on thanksgiving this year and have been dreading it ever since I found out. I feel like I am more cut out for a job that is monday-friday, day time hours, with holidays and weekends off.

The staff on my floor is constantly miserable and talking about how they cant wait to leave. Everyone hates it there and complains about how terrible the management is as well. I don't really know what I got myself into.

Whenever I have tried to talk to someone about how this job is effecting me, they tell me to stick it out because of the pay and benefits. Nobody seems to understand how horribly the night shift is effecting me and they make it sounds like its not a big deal. When I interviewed for the position, my manager told me she wanted a 2 year commitment from me, but nothing was ever written on paper. I was told that people leave after a year, but even if I stay a year, I don't know which sector of nursing I want to end up in. I just need advice. I know that eventually I want a less demanding job that is closer driving distance and will allow me to have weekends and holidays off to spend time with the people I love.

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10 Likes; 3,446 Visitors; 235 Posts

OP, if you are crying before every shift its time to look for another job. No job is worth your mental health deteriorating. That sounds like an awful place to work. Is it possible you can get a position closer to where you live? That sounds like a hellish commute, especially after working 12 hours and a night shift to boot! I used to have to work that shift and drive that long and it destroyed me after one year (I totaled 2 cars in the process from being tired!).

I hope things work out for you. Don't give up! ♡

Edited by Crystal-Wings

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NurseCard has 13 years experience as a ADN and works as a RN.

140 Likes; 3 Followers; 2 Articles; 34,925 Visitors; 2,844 Posts

OP, I am struggling with what to say to you without being too pessimistic,

or bringing you down even more.

Do you have ANY idea what type of nursing, field of nursing, that you

might eventually want to be in?

Do you need to make a certain salary? Or would a lower paying job

be a possibility?

Do you need benefits?

And... is there a hospital closer to you that might offer day shift and/or

a closer commute. :)

All of those are questions you need to answer for yourself.

For some nurses, the reality is that working 7p-7a, on a busy

Med Surge floor, 3 nights a week... is the reality. Many of those

nurses need the pay and benefits that such a job offers. Many of

those nurses need that experience, in order to one day be able to

move on to another area such as ICU, tele, PACU, NICU, OR, or

what have you.

Some nurses get stuck on a crappy Med Surge floor because there

are no other hospitals available, but they want to get their foot in the

door somewhere.

So... if you don't necessarily need high pay, and don't think the hospital

is for you... perhaps you could look into working in a doctors office, working

as a school nurse... those are jobs that tend to not pay well but they

are M-F day shift jobs.

There's also working in an ambulatory surgery center, but a place like

that might want you to have some experience. Not sure. You could

always try.

If needing benefits is not an issue, then you could consider going PRN

at your current job. That way you aren't working so many days at least.

But if you've only been there a couple of months, the higher ups may

not allow you to do that.

The things and feelings that you describe in your post are unfortunately

very common in brand new nurses. However, I have to say that it doesn't

sound like a very good/supportive environment that you have found

yourself in.

I hope things get better for you!

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missmollie has 4 years experience as a ADN, BSN and works as a RN.

25 Likes; 13,195 Visitors; 848 Posts

You are new and these feelings are common for new nurses. I didn't ever think I would get it, but at the one year mark things started looking better. As for the night shift, that is the shift I work and I wouldn't want a dayshift position. While this might not be the case for you, there are some things you can do to make night shift bearable. Talk to your PCP about a sleeping medication to help you get sleep during the days. A good day's sleep prior to a shift can make all the difference in the world, and it can be difficult to sleep during the days if you're not used to it.

You need to stay in your position for at least a year. After that one year mark, start looking for other places to apply and only apply for day shift. You'll find something with more experience, but you'll be hard pressed to find a position when you only stayed at your current position for less than two months after orientation.

Please don't cry about holidays. Unless you work in a coveted 8-5 nursing position, you're going to have to work holidays. Your co-workers also have to work holidays, so don't complain to them because it can be perceived that you believe you are more important than they are. Make the best of it. Help your floor plan a pot-luck for Thanksgiving, and have a sign up for everyone to bring in a dish. I work Thanksgiving every year, and I look forward to it because I spend a holiday with my favorite co-workers and not my extended family. We have the best food spread and usually we have a longer "lunch" that night because the census is lower. Often the doctors will join us and it's an enjoyable holiday to work.

I wish you the best, and it will get better.

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41 Likes; 10,235 Visitors; 1,372 Posts

1) 45 min commute is not that bad.

2) working weekends is normal in Healthcare and other service industries. You shouldn't be working every weekend. Consider this "paying your dues".

3) holidays are also normal. You can celebrate on other days. You also won't be working every holiday. Holiday pay is nice.

4) make sure you're getting enough sleep, eating right, and getting some physical activity.

5) focus on the positives. You get multiple days off during the week to do whatever you want. You don't get that much freedom with a MF 9-5, in which you literally wake up every day, commute, work, eat, and go back to sleep x5 days. Grass is not always greener.

I'm thinking you may be suffering some kind of depression or culture shock from transitioning from student to employee. Most of the things you mentioned are just the inconveniences of working full time. You will get used to it. Stick it out a bit longer and if you still don't like it after the year mark, apply elsewhere.

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RNperdiem has 14 years experience.

210 Likes; 1 Follower; 28,995 Visitors; 4,113 Posts

For many new grads, the less desirable jobs and shifts are the ones willing to hire. We have to start somewhere.

There is a period of depression that hits many new grads once the newness and honeymoon phase wears off. Consider that you might be at that low point now. It does get better and you do learn to adapt.

There is no quick fix, unfortunately. Take good care of yourself. Make sure you are maximizing your sleep time, eating properly and otherwise keeping healthy.

Distance yourself from a lot of the negativity at work. Try not to join in the complaining sessions at work if you can; too much of that makes things worse.

Start looking around now for what kind of nursing you might want in the future. Just knowing you don't have to stay forever at your current job should give you a boost.

I will mention that most nurses in direct patient care (the vast majority of nursing jobs) are not 9-5. Nurses covet jobs that are not bedside nursing jobs with those kinds of hours. If you really want a job like that in the future, see what kind of experiences and education you will need to be competitive.

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1,756 Likes; 4 Followers; 17,081 Visitors; 2,548 Posts

I also am extremely upset that I have to spend time away from my family on holidays and weekends to work. I am scheduled to work on thanksgiving this year and have been dreading it ever since I found out. I feel like I am more cut out for a job that is monday-friday, day time hours, with holidays and weekends off.

OP, I have to ask did you not know this going into this profession? I'm truly baffled that this has come as such a shock to you. I hope you are aware that you will likely be working some part of Christmas and/or New Years as well. Best to deal with that now.

Well, my confusion aside, the only thing you can do about it is have yourself a little pity party and then move on. Seriously. Thousands and thousands of people who have our kind of shifts have managed to make it work for them. It's all about attitude. Being disappointed is completely understandable but you really do have to get over it and make the best of the situation. After all, it's not the date, it's about being with family and I'm sure yours would be happy to spend time with you the day after or maybe Saturday. That's how most of us have dealt with it. We also try to celebrate the holiday at work. I'm sure your patients would rather be home with their families too. And I'm guessing they'd rather not be sick either. So you have a choice I guess. You can be a beacon of positivity for your co-workers and patients or you can grumble and be miserable. Your choice of course but for your sake I hope you choose the former.

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1,146 Likes; 7 Followers; 21,327 Visitors; 2,698 Posts

Culture shock/major life adjustment.

What's going on with patient care? Are you learning how to take good care of patients?

I'll agree with you about night shift; I don't really think it gets full credit for the havoc it wreaks and you can never make anyone else understand things like the "tired" that hangs around for a good portion of one's day off, for example. A few people really thrive on nights and everyone else gets by. But there's still a lot to be learned and there's often a pretty decent camaraderie on night shifts out of sheer necessity, if nothing else. Plus, the fact that no one really cares what happens on night shift short of a major legal catastrophe is both con and pro. It has its benefits.

Holidays - if they are assigned fairly/consistently, then they're just a necessary thing, nothing more. The general work atmosphere is usually a little better on holiday shifts.

Some of this (well, a great deal of it) will be what you make of it. Take it for what it is (laying groundwork for your nursing career) and try to get the most out of it that you can. Focus on something purposeful like learning all you can about patient care and interpersonal communications. Save and invest your money so you can have more choices in the future.

You don't need to know where you'll ultimately end up right now - you need to put one foot in front of the other with as good an attitude as you can muster and trust that you are going to gain something from these efforts.

Best wishes ~

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NightNerd has 5 years experience and works as a Bedside Nurse.

122 Likes; 15,243 Visitors; 728 Posts

OP, I hear what you're saying. The transition to being an RN, especially on nights if you've never worked them before, is hard. I promise that, while you will still sometimes encounter those godawful, why-did-I-do-this-to-myself shifts, it does get easier overall. I do recommend sticking it out for a year or two, not for your boss, but for your own benefit. There's nothing like getting to the end of the first year and realizing how much you've learned and how much stronger you are. It will be amazing to take that confidence with you to another kind of nursing, even away from the bedside.

Night shift is not for everyone, but there are ways to make it easier while you wait to get back on days. Eat right, exercise on a schedule and in a way that works for you. VALUE YOUR SLEEP. Find whatever way you feel best to schedule your sleep, and be kind to yourself when you just feel tired and icky. You can have a social life on nights; you just might be meeting for dinner instead of lunch. I promise it is doable, at least for a little while. And once you make good friends at work on your shift, you may never want to change!

Lastly (and I'm almost definitely bringing personal stuff into this, lol), please try to change your attitude regarding holidays. This has been quite the sore spot on my unit recently, and it's sort of been bugging me. We all know it sucks to work holidays, be away from family, not get to travel, etc. We also all understand when going into bedside nursing that this is what we are signing up for. It is not productive to dread or complain about working a certain holiday, and those of us who have been doing this for years honestly don't want to hear it. Make the most of it, try to celebrate with your coworkers the best you can, and appreciate that at least you are only working and will get to leave the hospital the next morning. (Also, if it is just a particular day you care about but you are willing to cover another holiday, sometimes people are happy to trade. Your mileage may vary, but if you're willing to help someone else out on a day they need, they might help you in return. Nothing wrong with asking, but you have to be willing to work some holidays.)

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psu_213 has 6 years experience.

26 Likes; 27,417 Visitors; 3,869 Posts

Crying everyday is not a healthy thing, and is a sign of a bigger problem. I guess the question is, are you crying because you feel overwhelmed or are you crying for other reasons (coworkers being mean to your or, dare I say, bullying). If it is the latter, then you should probably start looking for a job. If it is primarily because you feel overwhelmed...well, pretty much every new grad feels overwhelmed to some degree or another for the first year on a job. It does get better--keep asking for help and know that each shift you will feel more and more comfortable in your role. As for the 45 minute commute, only you know how much of an impact that has on you. I worked with nurses who had longer commutes than that and it worked for them. Personally, I don't think I would be able to stand it, but that doesn't mean others can be fine with it.

As for the weekend and holidays...working them is part of nursing. Not going to sugar coat it--there are times when you have to work when you want to spend time with family. That is how it goes. Learn to work with it though. Does the unit have a holiday rotation--for example, if you work Thanksgiving this year, you know you will have it off in 2019, 2021, etc.? Try and plan ahead--If you work T-giving are you able to get together on Black Friday? The weekend? If working Xmas, you may have the 23rd and 24th off to spend time with family. And, yes, some holiday seasons will really be short on time with relative. Iit stinks, but you can make it work.

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KMULL002 works as a RN/Staff Nurse.

1,777 Visitors; 51 Posts

Thank you for sharing your story. When I was a new nurse on a med/surg floor I felt the same exact way. What helped me was that I reevaluated my goals and reminded myself why I went into the field in the first place. My initial thoughts were that nursing is a respectable position and my patients will appreciate me; this is far from the truth. I got really burnt out. I changed the way I think of nursing. I reminded myself that I do it because I care and that I want to make a difference not for glorification and/or gratitude. When you do this job with the right motivation your patients, coworkers and everyone with whom you come in contact will notice. The great thing about nursing is you do not have to stay in any one particular position I found someone whom I chose to be my mentor (with her approval). I discussed my thoughts, problems, etc with someone with whom I trusted had my best interest in heart. Now that I did this my attitude has changed. Have I made mistakes? Yes, and I learn from them I don't put myself down. No-one is perfect. You do need experience IMHO before you go somewhere else. after my first year I left m/s and went to ICU; this was a mistake and I learned ICU was not my cup of tea as people die more there. I honed in on my assessment skills and used that experience when I transferred back to Med/surg. I also left and tried Home Health(good experience for me). I am finally back in the hospital. I love bedside nursing and I make a difference. It's just 12-13 house a night 3 nights a week with 4 off. Studies have proven that night shift shortens life but I do it for the money/differential. There are so many options for your. Please discuss your feelings with your preceptor, manager, friend, someone with whom you trust and again thank you for sharing. I wish you the best.

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kkbb has 1 years experience.

12 Likes; 2,862 Visitors; 112 Posts

Feeling overwhelmed, self-doubt, and all those negative thoughts are normal for new grads. I remember having to literally FORCE myself into my car to drive to work. That lasted for about 2 months. I still get anxious, but no where as bad as it was. But what helped me through it was reminding myself that I loved my job, and I knew I had support on my unit. What concerns me is that you are describing a negative work environment (at least in part). You need to think about how you feel when you are actually at work...do you like it, feel that you have people you can ask when you need help/guidance? It takes a while...which sucks, but in the right place it does happen.

Nights/holidays...I actually prefer nights. We get higher pay and as a general statement it isn't as crazy as days (there are exceptions to this). I did a month on days for orientation and never felt like I was caught up....or if I was then the doctors rounded and changed all the orders. But I learned early that I am not cut out for doing 3 nights in a row. I get depressed not seeing my family (I have younger kids). So I work my schedule to do 2s with occasional 1s. I have a friend that works 3, takes a night off, then does another 3 just so she gets a bunch of days off in a row after. You just need to figure out what works for you. Most holiday shifts don't bother me. I love the extra money. Thanksgiving and Christmas are hard for me. Does your work have a rotating holiday schedule? We alternate holidays so if you work Thanksgiving then you are off Christmas. We also have a lottery for your assigned holiday to possibly be canceled (depending on staffing). My family just learned to celebrate on a different day than most of the world. Kids write letters to Santa to explain that mommy needs to work, so could he come on a different night? I have even told them that this is partly how Santa gets it all done in one night...he sees a lot of families early or late because their parents work healthcare, law enforcement, fire department, and so on.

Lastly, I also have a 45 minute commute. I have satellite radio in the car and use it to listen to all the good music that I want. Going back to feeling anxious and all before work, my only self rule is that the music has to be fun and happy. No sad music on the way there, and no slow music on the way home.

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