New grad overwhelmed at work


  • Specializes in General Internal Medicine, ICU. Has 12 years experience.

Hi guys,

I am a new grad, and I recently started my first ever nursing job! Due to the lack of jobs in the city where I grew up, I took up an offer in a rural area...with the hopes that I will learn lots there and then use that experience to go back to a city job. I will end my orientation soon.

And I'm just not sure what's happening to me, but there are days where it's so good that I feel super confident being on my own, and then there are days where it's so bad that I wonder how and why I passed nursing school, nevermind the licencing exam. I just don't know what's happening to me.

Case in point: today at work I broke so many MRSA rules that I never imagined myself breaking. I also left a pt's bed way up high (luckily, no falls happened). I didn't get around to doing all the assessments for all my patients and the nurse orientating me had to pick up after me. Charting was way behind, and I don't think I charted everything that I needed to chart. Planning was a mess and went out of the window. It didn't help that the nurse that I was orientating with was on my back for everything and she kept on telling me how behind I am and how much i need to pick up the pace. I know that she's right...but I just don't know HOW to do those things.

So...I guess I'm just asking for some advice here. How on Earth am I possibly going to go to be able to get all my meds, assessments, charting, have my day and routine interrupted and still stay on top of things? As well as keeping my head on?

Thanks in advance.

P.S: I know things will get better (from reading posts on here), but right now, I just feel like I'm doomed to fall before I even spread my wings.


173 Posts

I was were you are at just a couple of weeks ago. I'm sure you have read alot of posts here from New Grads feeling the same way. so with that being said, know that this is normal and everyone feels this way. So don't get down on your self and doubt your abilities.

What you need to do is take a deep breath, and tell yourself that you are starting out to learn how to be a nurse. Nursing school is just a foundation, you really don't learn how to be a nurse in nursing school. That comes during orientation, asking questions, studying what you aren't familiar with and most importantly.. experience.

I started in LTC I had 3 weeks orientation, my very first job in nursing. I worked two weeks on my own and still had that feeling that I didn't know anything. Everyone kept telling me "You'll just learn as you go" Everyday I went to work I was so nervous something was going to happen and I wasn't going to know what to do.

one night I had a med error (which happens ALOT even to vetran nurses) I felt horrible, that is all my fault cause I was careless and should have caught it.... I did talk to my DON cause I had to fill out a incident report. I told her I feel very nervous, not sure if I'm ready... She gave me anothe week of orientation. I feel 100% better now. But what I did learn on orientation is that I was right on track, I really know more than what I give myself credit for and it is a learning process everyday.

I have a notebook, and everytime something comes up that I am not sure about or don't know at all.... (labs, a name of a med, diagnosis,... ) I write it down and when I go home I look it up so I will know next time.

I fill out a "cheat sheet" some people call them "brains" before I go into work of what my day should be organized like. 1. get blood sugars 2. give insulin 3. assessments 4. vitals on skilled patients 5 documentation 6. treatments...ect I leave a space for notes. I write down EVERYTHING the worst thing to do is forget to tell someone something, or thing that something is not important enough to tell.

I reviewed all of the basic nursing stuff we learned WAY in the beginning of nursing school just to keep me on my toes. Safety, infection controll, medication administration... it doesn't hurt to keep reading it to keep it fresh in your mind. Everytime you leave a patients room just stop turn around and look and think "Did I do everything to leave this patient safe" Bed down, call light within reach, area free of clutter, meds correct...ect.

Don't be afraid to ask questions and don't be afraid to say your not comfortable if you're not. Just show that you care and are willing to learn. Everyday there is something to learn and there always will be.

Good luck, hang in there and give yourself time. "it will get better" that's what everyone says, but now I actually believe it! and you will too :)



17 Posts

Specializes in intermediate care/medical/tele.

I can relate. I started in August and still have time management issues. I found out about brain sheets 3 weeks ago and made my own. They are really helpful to me! If you haven't heard of them here is the link to the brain sheet thread

Also here is a website that has saved my butt because of all the things I hadn't learned in nursing school. Its an ICU website but you may see a lot of things on the website in medsurg and LTC, like an explanation on interpreting lab values.

Youtube is also a good way to watch skills you may have only practiced once on a dummy in nursing school. Lots of pts post videos about caring for their trachs, colostomies, etc...Some videos may not be textbook accurate so be sure to review your nursing skills book when you watch a skill, so that you don't pick up any pt habits that are not kosher to nursing. This site has skills videos that are actually made by nurses

It takes me 2-3 times to "get" how to do things sometimes. So, if you are like me, I found you can look up the directions on the manufacturer website for equipment like enteral feeding machines or PCAs.

Another thing I learned...its ok to carry syringes, alcohol pads, flushes in your pockets. This has saved me a lot of time. I hope some of this helps. Good luck!! to you and all of us who are new!! :)