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New nurse, feeling discouraged. Please help!

by ♡♡RN♡&#9 ♡♡RN♡&#9 (New) New

Hi everyone,

Here's what's going on. I've been a nurse since July and I landed my first job. I've been working there for two weeks. My first week it was a lot of orienting and I helped a lot. Received a lot of ffeedback from patients and the staff. I was feeling good.

My second week, I was given 1-2 patients, with my mentor there, but I did the charting and the majority of the care. Again, I felt confident and received very good feedback from the staff and patients.

But on my last day on my second week, I made a med error the day before (missed a dose). I caught my own error and reported it promplty. The staff was okay with it, they told me it happens. The patient was okay. And they told me, it will happen again. Well after that, I looked over my charting and caught another mistake I did. I didn't document something on the MAR that needed to be documented, but it was done. I circled it, made a note on the time, and explained that it was charted somewhere else and that it was done.

To make the day worse, I could not start an IV pump and I got a lot of air, I'm talking alot, in the primary IV line and it took the nurse about 30 minutes to get it out. We could've just changed the tubing, but there was a lot of medication in the line (I was hanging a new bag, with new tubing, and I didn't prime the line correctly).

After that, I discharged (feel good about that) and my pt load was 0. So I went to the ER side to help then.

This topped my day. I had to do an EKG, I am slow in putting them on because I am new and they get tangled. The patients and the staff are very patient with me when putting them on. Well, I printed the strips and read it, I saw tachycardia on the strip. I told the nurse and she said okay and asked me to help her with some more task on the same patient. So we are doing that, the admissions lady came in and grabbed the EKG and not even a minute, a cardiac alert was called. It was the patient that we where working with. Turned out the patient was having an MI. The strip I read even said MI in bold at the bottom of the report and I completely missed it! I felt so horrible. I still do. I mean that's a very critical thing to miss. Very time sensitive. Leave it to the newbie to miss it. The pt could've experienced negative outcomes because of me. :cry:

After that, I was asked to do another EKG and the nurse came in twice asking if I have done it yet. I am slow. I finally printed it out and apologized for being so slow and the staff member sighed, very loudly, and looked away. That discouraged me so much. I went back to the med surg side (the er and med surg are side by side, same desk and everything) and just sat there for a minute, not speaking to anyone because I felt very bad. Very awful.

My mentor checked on me and I told her how I was feeling and she told me, it's okay, you're still new, you're going to make mistakes and you learn from them. We ate lunch together and she made me feel a tad better.

At the end of the day, I received feedback from my mentor. She said I needed to work on my charting. I'm really bad at it (we still do paper charting). I tend to ramble. My mentor said when they read it, it's confusing. I am investing on a charting book as she suggested. Other than that, she said I am doing very well here, I am one of them, and the other nurses on the unit agreed. They said I am doing very well and I am very helpful.

But I am still feeling very discouraged. I did learn from my mistakes, but I am embarrassed that they occurred. I had such a terrible day and it is still with me. I tried talking about it with my boyfriend, but he's not a nurse. The only thing he could say is, you're new, you're learning, and everyone was okay at the end. I appreciate how supportive he is, but he hasn't been here where I am at.

I need some advice from fellow nurses. How can I get over this feeling. I am feeling very discouraged, slow and embarrassed. I'm doubting myself as a nurse. Typing this is bringing tears to my eyes. Can yall please help me.

I appreciate the time yall put in to read this long post. I know it's long. What is this girl to do besides cry??:sorry:

Been there,done that, ASN, RN

Has 33 years experience.

Guess what? You are not a nurse yet. Just because you have completed school and passed a test, does not confer that status on you. It can take YEARS.

We are in a fast paced , challenging environment. We all learned, all made mistakes.

You MUST toughen up that thin skin and realize that, before you are your own worst enemy. You must show some level of confidence in your orientation, even if you need to take an acting class.

Deep breaths, one day at a time.

P.S. Skip the charting book. Read other nurse's charting and mimic the style of the most complete and concise notes.


Specializes in Forensic Psych. Has 2 years experience.

You've been nursing on your own for one week. ONE WEEK!

Imagine if you'd stayed in clinical for an extra week after graduation. Would that have been the magical switch to turn you from slow student to competent nurse? I'm sorry, but no.

I'm going to tell you what I'm constantly having to remind myself. Be kind to yourself.


Specializes in ED, Cardiac-step down, tele, med surg.

Confidence is the key. Even if you are feeling discouraged, try to exude confidence and team work in your new environment. Ask lots of questions. Review material at home when necessary. I suggest knowing the patho and treatments of the most common things you see, CHF, afib, SBOs, SEPSIS, SIRS, ARF, DKA, etc...I think this will help you. Anticipate outcomes so that you can act quickly to changes. The patient with tacycardia for example, my first thought would be to assess the patient, an abnormal finding gets an assessment, chest pain and rhythm check. Just keep a keen eye on those things. Allow that to be your primary focus and not your slowness and such, Repetition will make you faster.

I'm in the same boat as you. I have been working for a month. Each week I get a little faster, my charting gets a little better and I feel like I'm handling things a little better. I made some of the same mistakes such as a skipped medication and documentation errors. I try to remind myself that this is all new. I have the knowledge and now I'm learning how to apply it. I'm just not going to be as fast or as smooth as others on my team right now. It will come with time. I'm learning a big lesson of not being so hard on myself. My preceptor told me that I need to learn to crawl before I can run. Practice and exposure is what we both need right now and we are getting it. Our time management and smoothness of charting will come with time.

I really appreciate the input. I've heard that I will have to get thick skin once I start. I have been doing what you said on the charting. I have been looking at the charts and studying the way if flows. I just begun charting this week. I'm pretty sure it will get better.

I really appreciate the input. I've heard that I will have to get thick skin once I start. I have been doing what you said on the charting. I have been looking at the charts and studying the way it flows. I just begun charting this week. I'm pretty sure it will get better.

I have actually decided to pull out med surg book and begin reviewing some of the common diseases as you suggested. I think it will help me as well. In School I Encountered A LOT Of situations That Came Along the time I Was studying them. I knew what to do a lot better when I encountered a situation. I will do as you say and focus more on the situation, rather than my speed. It might bring me down if I think bad on my performance.

iluvivt, BSN, RN

Specializes in Infusion Nursing, Home Health Infusion. Has 32 years experience.

Well, if you want to be successful you need to stop crying and keep on learning and get back on the horse. You will be slow..you will ask a lot of questions..you will catch yourself in some mistakes (hopefully not big ones). Just because you graduated and have a license now it does not equate to magically being competent, efficient, organized,skilled with great interpersonal and written and communication skills. You must work at it if your goal is to be a great nurse! Not only must you work at you must keep working at throughout you entire career! Yes it can be an utterly frustrating experience but it can be accomplished. You are going to have to politely confront or ignore those that do not want to help you learn and grow and do not let their negativity bother you. This first year will be tough and you need to hang in there and look at every experience as a chance to learn this profession. You got through nursing school and now this is the next adventure and whether you succeed or fail is up to you! Stop making the experiences negative in your mind and start looking at them as opportunities. Also remember to assess your patients and not just focus in on getting a task done. I see this a lot with new grads as they often miss the big picture in any given clinical scenario. Hang in there it does get better and better!

:cat: it's nice to hear how someone else is in it like me. Some of my old nursing school buddies started working and I haven't heard anything about this from them. But the ones that are working have been LVN for years. I am very hard on myself. I aim for perfection. That's a habit I am going to have to break. I have noticed that I have became faster on my discharges and admissions. And my charting, not so well. I've been looking at other nurses notes and studying the way the flow. That's where my charting goes down.

Everyone, I want to thank yall for the advice. It really made me feel better because yall where upfront and very real about it. I do have a question though. How long did it take for yall to get the order and find your way of being your own nurse?

Take a deep breath and, in addition to learning from your mentor, watch and learn from the other senior nurses. They have the experience and the nursing skills that you need to learn. Ask questions as well.. Although it takes time, everyone goes through the pain of learning on the job when they are a new nurse. Getting upsetting won't help. Just remember that one day, you too will be the one to be the "mentor" to another new nurse... Try not to get down on yourself for your past mistakes..Stay positive and try to think of this as a.."learning opportunity".. Best of luck!

FurBabyMom, MSN, RN

Has 8 years experience.

Take some deep breaths, review some extra material, and keep at it. Learning anything is a process and you will get there, it takes time. You don't come out of school with the clinical judgment of someone who has done XYZ job for 5, 10 or more years. It takes some time to get there, you aren't there automatically. It takes some effort outside of work to continue learning and growing too.

The ability to reflect and self-assess for needed growth is a huge thing working in your favor. The thing that scares me more than someone I'm orienting (or working with) that makes mistakes is when people make mistakes and do not catch them, do not care, or think they know everything.

If you think there is any nurse you work with who hasn't made a mistake? Think again. The physicians, NPs, PAs - all have likely made some mistake along the way too. There have been events in my workplace in the past several years that have required the staff to meet with the legal team and go through everything about how XYZ happened - and while I can see how I might have acted differently in those situations, more than anything I think "there but for the grace of God go I".

Medicine and healthcare overall are team sports. You do have to be knowledgeable and thinking things through, but the others around you are on the same team you are. Do not be afraid to ask a coworker (ex. your mentor) for help or their assessment of a situation. In my current job, one of the surgery attendings I work with, took it upon himself to do things I should be doing (putting a foley in), and not because they were being mean, but because we all had the same goal for our patient (best and safest, most efficient care possible). I was already busy doing something else.

The EKG thing? It gets better with time. You can practice a little at home with worksheets and the like both for application of stickers for 12 leads and then 3 and 5 lead telemetry monitoring leads. I love the incredibly easy book about EKG and telemtry. Very helpful to me. Maybe once you get further into orientation you could ask for some time to just practice some of the skills you are expected to do but don't get to do as frequently? I am sorry the other nurse was so difficult for you to work with and made you feel badly. Keep that in mind, some day you will be the nurse helping someone newer learn to do their job. There is something to learn from every situation, and not every take away is clinical knowledge. Some lessons are related to inter-personal growth.

With respect to charting. Check to see what abbreviations are acceptable in your institution and what things mean (example: what does WDL/WNL mean in your facility). Review charting that other nurses use to see hints for clarity and conciseness. More importantly, remember to be objective. Describe what you see and what you do, and whenever possible, quote your patients. Charting really gets better as you get more experience.


Has 6 years experience.

Oh, honey, it will get better. I still make an occasional mistake, and I have cried from time to time. Try to step back, and give yourself some time - maybe three months, and then do a self evaluation. You need at least a year to feel competent. Even then, there is always something you don't know- and that is okay. You ask, you learn, you research.

It is easy to say get a thick skin- it takes time. Remember, even the best nurse on your unit was a new nurse too!

You've gotten some really terrific feedback here, so I won't repeat it. I would like to share with you something I've posted on here before, though, and it rings true every time. A former clinical instructor of mine told me that if I were to come across a nurse with more than a novice's experience who says s/he hasn't made a med error, that person is either lying or too stupid to know the difference! And I believe she was spot-on, no doubt.

Nurses WILL make mistakes, especially new ones. Lordy, TWO WEEKS? You're still in diapers in Nursing World :)

You will go on to make other mistakes, but if you are SMART, and CARE, you will learn from each and every one and will not repeat the same ones. But they will happen.

I hold out MUCH hope for you, btw, because you care how you are doing. Too often, a new nurse will brush off errors or ineptitude with "oh, well, I'm new, so what, I'll eventually figure it out". And while that might be true in words, it's very telling in attitude. People that don't care will not do well, will not do their best by their patients. It shows.

People who DO care, absolutely are the patients' best advocates.....and it shows :)

Hang in there. You'll be fine :)

Well you certainly are your own worse enemy. You need to calm down and stop being so hard on yourself. You have to learn how to be a nurse. It takes time so take your time. You won't make it, if you keep analyzing your every move. You need to know what you can't miss and what is ok to miss and not know and go from there. Many nurses have made the same mistakes and won't admit it for whatever reason, and that is fine. I am lucky to have had some tell me they did the same things I did early on and to they told me to make sure not to do it again. Usually when you make a mistake, you learn from it, but not by beating yourself up. You need to look at what led to the error, and fix that. Were you rushing, if so why. Are you lacking confidence, if so why and now how do you fix these things. Listen to some calming music, meditate, listen to positive talk on you-tube. You don't have time to beat yourself up at work, to much goes on at work, you need to be focused.