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New Grad with extreme anxiety and feeling unsure about nursing career...


Specializes in Under 4 months of nursing..

I could really use some advice about anyone who was severely anxious and unsure about their career after joining.

A bit of background information. I have always struggled to know what I wanted to do ever since I was in elementary school. I was so unsure that after high school I actually took a super senior year...not because of my marks (graduated with honours) but to literally try to figure out what I wanted to do. I should also mention that during high school I suffered from severe depression, social anxiety, generalized anxiety, along with a few other chronic health conditions and didn't really get to explore who I was. I eventually decided on nursing literally due to a friend who said she believed that it would be a good choice for me, the job stability and decent earnings.

I am 24 years old and recently graduated with my four-year university nursing degree, which actually took me five years as I had to repeat a nursing course. I really struggled in university with staying motivated though my marks were relatively good my final two years. Recently I have started my first job at a hospital and also work somewhere else (not nursing) to get full-time hours. My parents keep telling me how I seem back on track with my life but truth be told I am really not liking my job.

Because of the shift work and stress of the job my chronic health conditions have flared out of control (IBS and an Immune disorder). I have started losing my hair again as I do when I get stressed, began to gain weight rapidly (gaining up to seven pounds a month), and am constantly feeling very ill before work (vomiting before my shifts, feeling freezing cold, irritable, etc). It's gotten so bad that my manager has taken me aside saying that I look "sick" whenever I show up to work and that he was worried I was seriously ill.

I know that part of this is definitely related to anxiety about the job. I feel completely incompetent and I know that some of it is just first nursing nerves. But I literally dread every shift and keep telling myself I just have to get through two years until I can then explore other options in the field perhaps. My parents want me to move to full-time hours at the hospital, but with the way things are going now, I can't imagine doing that without falling into another severe depression. It's bad enough doing 1-2 shifts a week at the hospital, I can't imagine doing 4. I'm so anxious during and after my shifts that I have started trending towards unhealthy coping mechanisms (oversleeping, overeating and watching TV) whenever I can just to avoid thinking about work.

Just wondering if anyone else had similar concerns with their job when they first started. If so what did you do?


Has 4 years experience.

Why do you think you need to wait two years? The beauty of nursing is that there are infinite possibilities that you could work in. If the unit you are on is making you feel this way and driving you to unhealthy coping mechanisms then I recommend that you find a different unit or specialty. If the fear is patients themselves there are plenty of non-patient care jobs that you could land in that will still allow you to use your nursing education. Please do not continue to stress yourself to death. Life is too short to be doing that.


Specializes in Med/Surg, LTACH, LTC, Home Health. Has 35 years experience.

Not every nurse is cut out for Acute Care. Granted, that year or two of hospital experience would open more doors for you; but not at the expense of your physical and emotional well-being. One of the things taught in ethics courses and inservices is that the caregiver has a duty not only to the patients, but to themselves as well, to assess how they feel towards certain dilemmas. If you can’t handle it, you can’t handle it. No shame whatsoever in that. But don’t quit...until you find something else.

Might I suggest looking into your state’s Department of Community Health, or Department of Public Health? I’m sure they could use all the help they can get right now.


Specializes in Under 4 months of nursing..

Thank you both so much for your responses. My manager did recognize that I constantly looked sick and talked to me about it. I did admit to him that I was having anxiety issues and he was very understanding which helped. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 situation, my country is deciding to limit everyone to one workplace most likely in the coming months. Because of everything that is going on, very few companies are hiring right now (the trend in my local area is that there are less patients but they are all much more severe). Several units at my hospital have even closed down for now as we prepare for a greater COVID wave.

The shifts at the hospital due continue to be brutal, I am constantly missing breaks and applying for overtime. Much of it has to do with being a new grad and receiving ICU/critically sick patients in this unprecedented time. Luckily some of my health issue symptoms have gone down, likely because before I was balancing two RN courses and two jobs at the same time. When the courses ended I finally felt like I could breathe again.

I am scheduled for an average of 2 twelve hour shifts a week. That seems to be all I will be getting from the hospital, which I am okay with. While I definitely get anxious/ feel sick going, I have more free time for self-care, and time to relax on my days off. I try to not ever do more than two days in a row at the hospital and find that this new strategy has definitely been helping. It helps to know that I just have one day to get through instead of worrying about three days in a row.

I continue to take things day by day. My other job currently is a PSW at a hospice, and I am making plans to switch there as an RN casually/part-time along with the hospital position after the COVID situation that limits workplaces. That way I won't feel forced to work full-time at the hospital while I attempt to put in two years to help my career. Plus, I like the hospice so much that I may evidently switch there full-time after the two years. I'm trying to take things one day at a time and we will see how things go.

LibraNurse27, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community Health, Med/Surg, ICU Stepdown. Has 8 years experience.

I agree it's hard to switch nursing jobs right now. I was in the process of getting a clinic job but everything is on hold due to covid. I work in ICU Step-down so I'm needed in my unit and feel bad trying to leave during the crisis. Although my jobs gives me anxiety and exacerbates my chronic (mental) health condition (bipolar disorder), I know I am a good nurse and have the experience/skills to help during this time. I want to feel good about participating and sticking it out... and then hopefully quit acute care!

Maybe you can have that mindset as well: I am doing a good thing in an area I am currently needed, this is not forever and things will get better. If it becomes too much though, it sounds like you have another great option! I would say don't wait two years if things at the hospital get bad again. It's great you have found an area of nursing you enjoy. Good luck, take care of yourself and stay safe 😃


Specializes in Under 4 months of nursing..

Thank you for your reply! Things unfortunately got a bit worse, so maybe I will make another post about that.