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New Nurse Feeling Miserable and Defeated...

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by callmetallcake callmetallcake (New) New

Hey, everyone. I just need some insight and really just need to know if what I am feeling is normal and where to go from here... So I started my job a few months ago (I am still on orientation until December with a preceptor working at the same time as me to use as a resource). I am currently on a med/surg tele floor. I am taking about 3 patients on my own, in a couple weeks I will be taking the full 4-5 patients. My preceptor has told me I am doing excellent, that I am independent and everything. In fact, I feel like I am doing pretty decently, but one thing I cannot shake is that med/surg is NOT for me. I have always wanted to be an OB nurse...that area of clinical in nursing school was my favorite, but I didn't necessarily HATE med/surg then... but now...I DO. My problem is I feel so overwhelmed with the amount of drugs I have to give, the constant new orders, all the drains and tubes that I never really dealt with in nursing school and am just know learning how they work (Rectal tube, post-pyloric NG tube, etc). I realized that I don't even know how to change a freaking pressure ulcer wound dressing by myself... I don't know. And on top of that, I have had to rotate on both days and nights and I have to choose which one I want. And tbh, I am not sure because nights are definitely less stressful and I have more time to think, BUT I don't have a social life because my sleep schedule is totally wrecked... I guess what I am asking are a few things: 1) is it NORMAL to feel like this, or is nursing just not for me? 2) Is the messed up sleep schedule on nights worth the more easy-going environment for my first year? 3) Should I stick med/surg out for a year, then transfer to OB (per my hospitals policy) OR should I quit now while it isn't too late and try to get into pharmaceuticals? 4) Is it normal to feel nauseous and dread going back to work and looking incompetent...if so...WHEN DOES IT GET BETTER?

Also, forgot to mention I sometimes have all COVID patients which adds to my anxiety and makes the shift worse, but I can't do anything about that obviously LOL

sorry for the long post...I just really need some words of wisdom. *sigh* thanks, in advance.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

Everything you are describing is pretty common.  I hate to use the word "normal" for stuff like this.  So I'll just say "common."  Many, many new grads feel this way.   When faced with the realities of being responsible for the nursing care of multiple patients, they realize how much they still have to learn -- and they feel overwhelmed.   Those feelings do not mean that you are not cut out for nursing.   They just mean you are normal.  The fact that you are getting positive feedback from your preceptor is a very positive sign.  You are not messing up and appear to be making appropriate progress.  So many new grads cannot say that.   Compared to those who are floundering, you're doing great!

It is part of a much-researched phenomenon known as "reality shock."  Usually, the worst of those feelings start to improve around the 6-month mark and continue to gradually improve over a period of several months.   By the end of year 1, most new grads are feeling as if they can handle the job.

My recommendation is to learn how to take care of yourself.   Do you need to use more of your vacation time?  Or learn to use your time off more wisely -- so that you can come back to work feeling refreshed and ready to go?   Do you need to eat better?  Get a little more exercise and fresh air?   etc.   See friends?   The covid situation makes taking care of these personal needs harder than usual.   What can you do to take better care of yourself?

Days vs night shift.   Only you can decide what would be best for you.   For me (years ago) being on night shift for a year really helped me as a new grad because night shifts were more calm and the senior nurses were able to give me more help.   Also, I was never an early-morning person and getting up super-early for day shifts just meant I was sleep-deprived.   Working night shift, I would stay up really late (2, 3 o'clock) even on the nights that I was off so that my body wasn't having to switch back and forth regularly.   (My routine was to go to bed around 2 and get up around 10 or 11 on my days off.)   But if you are a morning person, the day shifts might work better for you.   Whichever you choose, the key to making it work for you is to maintain a sleep schedule that doesn't change all that much when you have time off compared to when you are working.   Try to maintain an approximately consistent schedule -- don't bounce your sleep hours around much.

It sounds like you are working in a good place with a good orientation program and a preceptor who is supporting you.   That is valuable.   Don't be quick to give that up.   Focus on pampering yourself and establish healthy habits -- and give it a little more time before giving up.

@llg

THANK YOU so much for your kind words. I have heard by many that in 6 months, I will feel different. You made an excellent point about paying attention to how I spend my days off... I have been rather pouty and lazy on my days off, so maybe I will try to do some hiking and maybe enjoy some fresh air like I usually did before I started my job. Once again... thank you. 

speedynurse, ADN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in ER, Pre-Op, PACU.

On 9/3/2020 at 3:11 PM, callmetallcake said:

Hey, everyone. I just need some insight and really just need to know if what I am feeling is normal and where to go from here... So I started my job a few months ago (I am still on orientation until December with a preceptor working at the same time as me to use as a resource). I am currently on a med/surg tele floor. I am taking about 3 patients on my own, in a couple weeks I will be taking the full 4-5 patients. My preceptor has told me I am doing excellent, that I am independent and everything. In fact, I feel like I am doing pretty decently, but one thing I cannot shake is that med/surg is NOT for me. I have always wanted to be an OB nurse...that area of clinical in nursing school was my favorite, but I didn't necessarily HATE med/surg then... but now...I DO. My problem is I feel so overwhelmed with the amount of drugs I have to give, the constant new orders, all the drains and tubes that I never really dealt with in nursing school and am just know learning how they work (Rectal tube, post-pyloric NG tube, etc). I realized that I don't even know how to change a freaking pressure ulcer wound dressing by myself... I don't know. And on top of that, I have had to rotate on both days and nights and I have to choose which one I want. And tbh, I am not sure because nights are definitely less stressful and I have more time to think, BUT I don't have a social life because my sleep schedule is totally wrecked... I guess what I am asking are a few things: 1) is it NORMAL to feel like this, or is nursing just not for me? 2) Is the messed up sleep schedule on nights worth the more easy-going environment for my first year? 3) Should I stick med/surg out for a year, then transfer to OB (per my hospitals policy) OR should I quit now while it isn't too late and try to get into pharmaceuticals? 4) Is it normal to feel nauseous and dread going back to work and looking incompetent...if so...WHEN DOES IT GET BETTER?

Also, forgot to mention I sometimes have all COVID patients which adds to my anxiety and makes the shift worse, but I can't do anything about that obviously LOL

sorry for the long post...I just really need some words of wisdom. *sigh* thanks, in advance.

I really would try to stay a year on med-surg. It’s OK if you want to do L&D or mother/baby, etc. What you are feeling is just being a new grad....also please know that it’s OK to still not know things when you are off orientation! I know I still had a million questions once I was off orientation as a new grad. Learn everything you can, ask for help when you need it, and as you improve your speed then reach out and help the rest of your team when they are struggling. I can’t answer the day or night shift question for you. I know for me....especially now, I don’t think I can ever do nights again. I didn’t feel well or think well....I thought my critical thinking was on the slow side and I made errors with driving home from work. Some nurses LOVE nights....no managers, no administration, etc. I just know I can’t go back to nights again. Are you a night owl or a morning glory? Just depends what works best for you.

brunetteRN06

Specializes in Medical telemetry.

I can relate to everything above. I work thirds on a med tele floor. I get great feedback from my preceptor. I’m not off orientation yet. I am too interested in OB but have doubts that I would be a confident nurse in OB having next to no experience with birth, children, pregnant women... but still an area that interests me so much. Anyways, I guess my main issue with my job now is that I take work home with me. Almost everyday. Sometimes when I’m at work I think... is this what I’m even passionate about?! Why am I doing this as a career if it doesn’t make me happy/ fulfilled? I feel like the majority of my days off are truly consumed by thinking how miserable I am at my job... I’m thinking of making a change to a clinic setting to settle my anxiety/ have a regular routine/ hopefully not take work home with me as much as I do now. 

I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone in this struggle! Being a new nurse is harder than I could’ve ever anticipated. I am rooting for the both of us! 

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 10 years experience.

On 10/16/2020 at 10:22 AM, brunetteRN06 said:

I can relate to everything above. I work thirds on a med tele floor. I get great feedback from my preceptor. I’m not off orientation yet. I am too interested in OB but have doubts that I would be a confident nurse in OB having next to no experience with birth, children, pregnant women... but still an area that interests me so much. Anyways, I guess my main issue with my job now is that I take work home with me. Almost everyday. Sometimes when I’m at work I think... is this what I’m even passionate about?! Why am I doing this as a career if it doesn’t make me happy/ fulfilled? I feel like the majority of my days off are truly consumed by thinking how miserable I am at my job... I’m thinking of making a change to a clinic setting to settle my anxiety/ have a regular routine/ hopefully not take work home with me as much as I do now. 

I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone in this struggle! Being a new nurse is harder than I could’ve ever anticipated. I am rooting for the both of us! 

Changing to a clinic setting isn't going to get rid of your anxiety. It is just going to change the things you are anxious about.

It is common in new grads with reality shock to start job hopping, hoping something else is going to give them the warm fuzzy they are missing. Unfortunately in nursing, every time you change specialties you are basically starting your adjustment period and learning curve all over again. 

Stop spending your personal time obsessing about work. Get out there and do things that fill up your soul. Very very few people get all their meaning from life out of what they get paid to do for a living. You will have good days where you feel that way and you will have bad days when you wonder why you do what you do. In the beginning, the jolt between real life nursing and the way they teach it in nursing school is particularly harsh. You may have been a great student. Perhaps you are used to getting a lot of kudos or used to being really on top of your game as a student nurse. Perhaps you had high goals of doing good for human kind. All of that is so soooooo common. The humility of being a beginner can hit in the gut. Hard. 

Stick with this for a year. If at that point you still hate it, then make a switch, with the knowledge that you are going to again have a big adjustment period. Chances are, though, that after six months, the next group of new grads will start and you will begin to see how far you have come. 

good luck.