New Grad- I feel lost and I am scared!


Hello Everyone!

I just graduated in may with associates degree in nursing, which I got at a community college close to home. I can honestly say in those two years I did not have very good clinical experience and have very little hands on experience and have no skill technique at all! I just recently moved to a big area and was able to get an RN position on a med/surg floor at a larger hospital then what I am use to from my clinical experience. I went through hospital orientation last week an started on the floor this week. On Monday I didn't really do whole lot, it was kind of a paperwork day and I did a scavenger hunt exercise to find where things were on the floor( didn't really find it very helpful). Yesterday I had one patient to take care of and I felt extremely overwhelmed because I was so unsure about where things were located and the computer system for charting is way different from what I am use to so I felt lost all day and cried my eyes out when I got home! The floor has one person designated as a preceptor and she is really nice, but she is responsible for all the new employees and there are 4 new people who just started within the past 2 weeks! So there were times throughout my day where I was so lost on computer stuff and I had to wait around for the preceptor who was trying to deal with 3 other new people. I'm also at a disadvantage because these 3 other new people had some of their clinicals at this hospital so they know there way around and know the computer system pretty well and they also have BSN where as I do not. I kind of wish I had someone who could give me a little more one on one help for the next couple of weeks until I get use to things.

Another issue I am having is that i have no skill technique! When I was school we watched videos on skills and we had manquines to practice on but we never got the chance to perform skills in clinical on actual patients and this scares me a lot! I think the thing that scares me the most is starting IVs because I do not even know how to feel for a vein! I have a friend who has been a nurse for over a year now and she said she still can't start IVs a lot of the time. When I look at how well these other 3 new people know what they are doing and how to perform skills, it makes me feel like I wasted my time in nursing school because I feel like I don't know anything!

Any kind of advice or support would be greatly appreciated!

shoegalRN, RN

1,338 Posts

Ok, you need to breathe!

For one, you are brand new fresh out of nursing school. The real world of nursing is nothing like nursing school. You are in a transition period, and you are adjusting. Don't be so hard on yourself. Rome was not built in a day.

Secondly, stop comparing yourself to other new grads and nurses alike. You do not know if those other new grads worked as techs during nursing school or maybe had a totally different nursing school experience than you did. Focus on your own journey.

Thirdly, starting IV's is a skill that you will master with repetition. The more you do, the better off you will be. Ask if you can get time in the GI lab to start IV's all day. Or even time in the ER to do nothing but start IV's.

And your preceptor should only be precepting one new grad at a time. Speak with your unit educator and see if you can get a preceptor that will be assigned to just you. This is how most orientations are done. Maybe your hospital is short staffed, or it not's in the budget to have preceptors dedicated to just precepting.

I am an ER nurse that has been a nurse for a little over 2 years and there are days where I still feel stupid, where I question my nursing judgment, where I can't hit a vein to save my life. You will not feel completely comfortable as a nurse until about the 3-5 year mark as I am told.

Be patient with yourself and give yourself time. It will get better.


4 Posts

Everything takes time to get used to. I'm not a nurse yet, but I think that it is okay to be lost. You just got to get in the hang of things. Every new jobs' first day feel like you are lost. But, then you get the hang of it. It can but tough knowing that you are in charge of someone's life, you just need to ask other nurses and make sure you are safe and get that thang done! It just all takes getting used to.


191 Posts

Specializes in ER. Has 8 years experience.

A couple of things: first, I agree with the above poster that you can't compare yourself to others - this will always make you feel worse because there's always someone who is better at a specific task. Did that make sense? :rolleyes:

Next, I've been out of school for a while, but I think it's a disservice to you that you were not allowed to practice skills on real patients. In my clinicals, I spent several days in day surgery solely to learn IV skills. I was nervous as all getout and missed about the first dozen! Then one of the nurses offered to help me. Basically, the way we were taught in lecture and lab was not optimal. Once she showed me her technique, I was able to be successful. Now, I'm one of the ones they call to the floor for the hard sticks and enjoy a challenging stick.

If I were you, I would be direct but polite. Tell the preceptor that you need help/extra attention with A, B, C. List the things you feel you're behind on or unsure of.

It will get better. You're doing great already to have graduated, gotten your license, and landed a job! You can't expect to be an expert right out of the gate.


269 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care. CVICU. Adult and Peds PACU.. Has 8 years experience.

There are nurses, who have been a nurse for over 15 years, and don't want to start IVs. Practice makes perfect. Ask another nurse if you can practice on him/her. Or go home and practice IVs with a hot dog - that's what I did when I wasn't at school.

allnurses Guide

llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 46 years experience.

Make a learning plan for yourself. Make a list, taking each topic or skill at a time. Then make a plan for learning more about that topic or skill and getting some practice with it.

Do you need to buy a book or two? Do you need to spend a little "homework" time reading up on a few things? Do you need to ask for the opportunity to practice a few technical skills with an experienced nurse? Share your list with whoever you think can help you and would be supportive of you at work -- your preceptor? the unit educator? your manager? etc. -- someone who will think positively about you for wanting to learn and for taking the initiative to make a plan and use whatever resources are available.

As you actually provide yourself with the extra education you feel you need, check each topic or skill off your list. That will give you a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of control over your situation. You'll be both learning helpful things and also boosting your self-esteem by taking responsibility for your own learning. Seeing yourself make progress will help lift your spirits.

Good luck to you.


29 Posts

Ahhhhh big hug to you! I am a new grad as well. And I have had more than my share of issues as a new grad as well. It is so tough!!! Don't diminish your ADN education in all of this. I finished BSN just a few months ago and trust me, we are just as lost feeling as you are!! Some are just better at shrugging the stress off than others are. Do not compare yourself to the others--everyone starts at square one. How each of us proceed from square one is unique and that is what makes all of us a unique and great RN! :-)

Definitely ask for some time in the ED/Cath lab/GI to practice IV sticks. I, too, was HORRIBLE at them! Only had 1 stick attempt during most of my clinicals. Then I got to do a month long capstone at a cath lab. Did at least 4-6 IV starts per day. The first week was rough with more misses than successes, but I, too, had someone show me a technique and I took off like wildfire with starting lines. In fact, just last night, I got to do 2 art sticks for ABG's and managed to get those on the first try. Prior to the cath lab, there would not have been a hope and a prayer of me making that stick. Also put the word out to other nurses on the floor that you want IV stick practice. I have learned on my unit that noone wants to do sticks if they don't have to and they will willingly let me do them! :-)

This forum has gotten me through my darkest times as a new grad. Things are looking up a little for me now, and I wanted to pay it forward and help others they way I have been helped. Hang in there, and just trust yourself to grow and develop everyday. Before you know it, you will be that unique nurse you want to be!

Big hug to you!

Specializes in Geriatric Psychiatric. Has 12 years experience.

I graduated with an ADN from a "really good school" and my clinical experiences were terrible. Our instructors were responsible for up to 12 people on two different wings - it's was chaos and for me, it didn't work out well. I sort of managed to slip through the cracks without getting very much hands-on experience at all. We were supposed to have a preceptorship for our final rotation, which I think would have helped me a lot - but we never did. A lot of people were successful in clinicals and felt ready to start nursing. Me, I'm terrified. I passed all my classes easily and I know that I possess talents that you can't teach but it's the technical aspect that's causing me concern. I know the knowledge is in there - I just get nervous and tense up. I've been out of school now 5 months and have applied to so many new grad programs that I have to keep a spreadsheet of them all. I really believe with the proper support and encouragement, like the transition help you get in a new grad program would be excellent for me and bring out my abilities but those programs are only taking people with experience, with advanced degrees, with tons of certifications. In fact, to me, it seems like some of those people might be fine with a more traditional orientation and training. So I wonder are the hospitals focusing on the right people for these extensive training programs? What does that say about me? What happens to someone like me? I got into nursing because I wanted a career where I felt like I was doing something important, where I could advocate for patients, encourage people, educate communities, and continue to learn and grow. Is it possible that I managed to get into nursing school, get through it with honors and being well-liked and respected by my peers and instructors, but not really be "nurse material." Is that possible? I feel like I've made a big mistake. I feel like I want someone to hold my hand for a few weeks, really take their time with me and I know I would thrive under the encouragement but everyone says nursing isn't like that... it's sink or swim. So what happens to people like me? People who maybe want to wear a life vest for a little while? Does that mean we don't have the right stuff? Not sure what to do with this shiny new (getting older) degree.

dudette10, MSN, RN

1 Article; 3,530 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg, Academics. Has 12 years experience.

It will get easier. I guarantee it.

A story:

Last night, I had to go to another floor where I transferred a patient to include in the chart orders on my transfer. (The doc said a bunch of things to me about discharge, failed to write the orders himself, and the receiving nurse pointed out that what I said in report for discharge planning was in contradiction to the previous written orders by the same doc. Ugh.)

Anyhoo, when I went to the other floor to include the order in the chart, a former classmate who was still on orientation was sitting at the desk. She was muttering under her breath about being overwhelmed and not knowing anything. I said to her exactly what I wrote in my first line.

Nearly a year ago, I was the new grad sitting at the desk, muttering under her breath about being overwhelmed and not knowing anything.

Good luck, and know that it gets better!


18 Posts

I know this post is old ... but boy did I need to read it. I could have written the original myself. I am right there, right now. Sigh. I keep telling myself to just keep going. I t will get better.

Specializes in OMFS, Dentistry. Has 5 years experience.

I am so happy to have come across this post