Nervous about entering REAL hospital world

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Ok, I'm going to have a really hard time admitting this (what's with my pride and all) but, I don't feel competent enough to enter the real workforce yet. As a nursing student, I still have one more semester to go before I graduate, and yet, I don't feel accomplished enough to be confident about my career. If someone comes up to me, randomly asks me a question about a health disease, I can't say I have the knowledge or the intelligence to answer the question. With clinicals, I was barely passing because I'm so afraid of messing up, and am careless about my observations. Twice, my patients (although not life endangered), were not treated for conditions that I failed to notice -- i.e., erythematous hand.

It's so much stress. My clinical professors breathe down my neck, expecting me to know how to do everything...but all I could draw up is a blank. Will the real world be easier, and not as intimidating? Can I still count on the support of my teammates or am I on my own, with no one to look up to for guidance? What would happen if I made mistakes?

I'm so stressed out, I seriously have trouble sleeping every night not knowing how to cope with the real world. As a person by default, I'm extremely shy. My peers are mostly very outgoing. I feel that as a profession, nurses are expected to (generalizing here) KNOW everything, and be supportive and engaging with their patients. I care for my patients, but I don't know how to relate to them. That already makes me feel like a total failure.

I don't know...I guess what I'm ultimately asking here is for some assurance. Some pearl of wisdom that I can grasp onto. I'm 22, but I don't feel like an adult ready to break that barrier to be an adult yet. I still feel mostly like an overgrown teenager. I don't know if I can handle the responsibilities required to save another person's life as a nurse. Am I the only one that feels this way?

OMG like you were reading my mind.Although i still have a while still in nursing school i feel the exact way.Really looking forward to what the others have to say.They seem to be so knowlegable.Wonder if i'll ever be that good.

Welcome to the 'Fretter's Fraternity' :D. I guess everything falls in place once we actually start working. And I'm sure almost everyone must have gone through this anxiety of moving from the college program to actual practice.


283 Posts

Most people I know (including some of my instructors) have said that you will learn more in your first year on the floor than you will in school.

For the op - if you have only one semester left, I would work on your areas that you feel you are weakest in. If you feel that your observations need work, take the time to work on it. As a nurse your powers of observation are critical and in the "real world" you will need to be able to catch things. I know that clinical instructors can be scary, but it's what you have to deal with. Try to calm yourself down a will be ok!! I don't know if your final semester has started yet, but if it hasn't, maybe look over your procedures and materials for your clinicals and see if there is anything that you can at least run through mentally to try to get yourself a little more confident.

hang in there!!

Silverdragon102, BSN

1 Article; 39,477 Posts

Specializes in Medical and general practice now LTC.

It is normal to feel scared or nervous on entering the real nursing world. I think I would be more worried if not. I promise you you will learn more outside of nursing school and may even move around a few specialities until you find your niche and learn from the beginning each time. Best of luck and remember you will always find support here n this website and may find this forum a welcome First year after Nursing licensure


125 Posts

One day during second semester, my prof was watching me put in a foley. I could feel the sweat running down my back I was so nervous! I was thinking in my head that I was screwing up everything I touched. After I finished and we left the room my instructor said, you seem so in control and compassionate. I was totally floored! Here I thought she was gonna tell me how I need to re-read my skills and work on chilling out or whatever and she said completely the opposite!

My point is, just because you are shy doesn't mean you care any less or are less able to be a nurse. Generally I have a big mouth and I am pretty outgoing in a comfortable setting (not so much in clinicals). Time and time again my big mouth has really made me look like an incompetent boob because I needed to fill the air space so I said something stupid. I think quietness and calmness are very good virtues to have when caring for the sick. It shouldn't be a three ring circus in the pt's rooms anyway!


38 Posts

Specializes in NICU, Pediatrics/PICU.

I second what others said about learning more on the actual unit than in school (procedure-wise and unit-specific stuff).

Also, something a classmate of mine told me a couple of times before some exams I was freaking out about really helped me: "You know more than you think you do."

My first thought was "HA! Yeah right. I probably know LESS than I think I do!"

But, honestly, it turns out that the freaking out and the lowered self-confidence just makes you FEEL that way. You've gotten through to where you are now, so obviously you're doing something right! So just try to relax and trust yourself a little more.

Good luck!!

Phew, glad to know I'm not the only lone soldier on the road.

I was very afraid of coming back here to read ppl's comments since I thought people would be criticizing my inability to cope as a nurse.

Thanks for the support you guys! As a nursing student, and even reading some of the comments on this forum...not everyone is that supportive and encouraging. I was expecting some disparaging opinions...and so I needed the time to pump up my courage to read the feedback (lol). But I guess I had nothing to fear.

I guess you learn the most out of school...but for the most part, can you relearn what you've already learned in school in the real world? I'm certain that there are many things as of right now that I'm not familiar with while I'm in school (I know I need to brush up on those), but do you ever relearn this knowledge outside of school too?

Specializes in Ortho, Neuro, Detox, Tele.

Oh YES! there will always be days where you feel like you have NO idea what you're doing! but orientation is for learning....quick tip...trying to get a job as a CNA really helps, you pick up some basic skills!

Still, there are things that I always seem to need work on.....suctioning, starting IVs, putting NG's down, doing bedside procedures, etc.....there are things that EVERY nurse needs help with, the big thing is being able to ask your coworkers for help!

In short, nobody knows learn it over time...keep the faith!

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