New grad nerves


I am precepting with a nurse in the ER that provides resourcing and does not take a patient load. Recently we had a critical pediatric with new onset seizures. This patient was given to a fairly new nurse, licensed just over a year, and he was having difficulties with providing care as the primary nurse. I question why the charge nurse assigned him to the patient but tried to help in the best way I could. The patient was not protecting their airway during seizures so it was decided to intubate. 2 other nurses were in helping with the intubation, along with a paramedic student, but the primary nurse was struggling keeping up with charting and verifying medications. Luckily we were able to stabilize the patient and transfer her to a pediatric neurologist.

My question: as a new nurse, not feeling confident in the care of a critical pediatric patient, do I-

A: request the charge nurse assign a different primary nurse

B: take the patient and rely on help from other experienced nurses to instruct and help me

I am nervous in caring for critical patients and want to provide the best care but what if that means the care should be from someone else? Do I stay on helping as a secondary nurse so I can get the experience or step out so they can perform tasks without too many bodies in the room? Should I speak with a supervisor and request not being assigned critical patients until I have observed more? I also don't want to screw myself out of future experiences.


Specializes in Med/Surg, LTACH, LTC, Home Health. Has 37 years experience.

If the ER is your chosen area, you should receive a lot of training and exposure there. I think you will have demonstrated competence in certain situations before you're assigned as the primary nurse.

Until then you may be asked to share the care of patient X even if you have your own patients so that you can continue to learn. Whenever you can, ask for the opportunity to observe and take notes. If you want to work in the ER, you will not learn by avoidance. That's with any floor.

If you simply cannot handle critical issues, ask to transfer to the med-surg floors, with the understanding that med-surg patients can upgrade to critical care patients at any given time. Hands-on, diving-right-in is a quality that is a great quality to have as an acute care nurse.