New Nurse feeling overwhelmed!


  • Specializes in Oncology, Home Health, Psychiatry. Has 6 years experience.

Ok, so I am a new grad nurse and I love my new job on an Oncology floor. The staff has been exceptional and I'm learning alot.

I have about 2 months under my belt, and I have some good days and some awful days. I feel like a complete basket case on some days because I feel like I know nothing!

My preceptors seem to feel that I'm coming along fine, but I wonder to myself who they have been looking at, because they can't be talking about me.

Any help for the newbie?

Any other newbies want to share their experiences?

Everyone says that I won't feel comfortable for about the first year. Who can go a year feeling stupid and dumb in many of their choices??

Yep...can definitely use some warm fuzzies right now! :chair:


46 Posts

I have about 3 months under my belt and still feel the same way you do. I work in SICU/MICU and walk out of there some days feeling like a complete idiot. Everyone says this is normal, but I hate feeling this way. The only thing that keeps me sane is this website and my fellow newbies (there are 4 of us). Hang in there, and know that I am feeling your pain!



278 Posts

I feel your pain. I have about 7 months under my belt. Over the past 6 months I've cried a lot, lost a ton of weight, and felt stupid and grossly inadequate. I think our nursing schools do a terrible job of preparing us for our first jobs.

Honestly, however, after I hit the sixth month mark, I'm having moments of feeling -sort of- like I know what I'm doing. I still ask questions constantly, but there's no way of knowing everything without experiencing it first. And the only way to experience it is to show up every day and learn. That doesn't always feel good and it's frustrating, but you'll get there. And soon there will be a new, new grad on your floor and you'll be showing him/her the ropes.

What you are feeling is totally normal, and it feels like a shock because no one really tells you how hard - and awful - your first year of nursing is. I think the people who have it the hardest are the ones who are challenged the most, and in the long run become the best nurses.

You will start to see changes, you'll be able to answer questions more often and you'll start to catch things all by yourself. You'll even feel comfortable suggesting things to doctors, etc. The only way to gain this wisdom is through experience, and you'll get there in time. Seriously - it gets better. But it doesn't happen in a nice, linear fashion. It goes in spurts - good days, bad days, etc.

A piece of good advice I got from my Mom (a retired RN) is after every shift, think of 3 new things you now know how to do. Before, I was only focusing on mistakes I made, and totally ignoring my accomplishments. Take time to see how far you've gone already, and it only goes up from there.


25 Posts

Wow, I'm so glad I found this posting!

I have been graduated 4 months and am working on a general surgery floor. Some days I wonder "what am I doing here!?" many of you I feel like my 4 yr degree was for nothing and am completely clueless half the time. But I love what one of you said about picking 3 positive things you've done in your shift instead of focusing on your faults!

I figure it can only get better from here.....every experience is a learning one!


193 Posts

Specializes in ob, med surg.

Keep showing up! Find someone sympathetic to your plight, (might not be another nurse.) The nurses I work with are great, but my real support comes from a respiratory therapist who works on our floor, and a CNA who is now a tele tech. Sometimes that helps as they can give you a different perspective. Also, keep in mind that sometimes it is you, but most times, it isn't! The work is just hard and multi- tasking is the norm and you ARE going to forget things from time to time. It does get better:icon_hug: !! Look also for the little fuzzys. I have been trying hard to listen to my patients, mostly to try to head off potential problems, but as an extra bonus, MANY of my patients tell me that I am the best nurse they had since they were admitted, or that I am the only person who explained things to them. Yeah, my charting is late more times then I like to think, but if I don't have to give my pt ativan that night because their nerves have been soothed, well, isn't that what it is about?? Keep plugging away! If you care enough to try to get better, you must be a good nurse already!!


262 Posts

hang in there all you "newbies", it is scary in the beginning to realize that what you just spent 4 years learning about is soooooooooo different in "the real world"...take comfort that each day there is always something each one of us can learn no matter how long we have been in nursing

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN, CNS

164 Articles; 21,189 Posts

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 31 years experience.

It is scary in the beginning. The only advice I can offer is be kind to yourself. Did you know everything the first day of nursing school? Nope, I doubt it - you learn in bits and pieces. It does take a year (or two or three) to feel more comfortable. Find a mentor - someone who is more experienced and who you admire and ask how they do it. Ask for specific and concrete examples.

Good luck and don't give up!

Specializes in FNP, Peds, Epilepsy, Mgt., Occ. Ed.

You'll get there. It takes time, and experience, which you new nurses are in the process of acquiring.

Don't beat yourself up because a nurse with 5 or 10 or 15 or 25 years' experience knows something at a glance, and you don't; you're not dumb, you're new.

NextnurseDani, it sounds as if you have some good preceptors; take advantage of that, ask questions, listen and learn. That includes listening when they tell you you're doing fine! Remember you can learn things from everyone, not just the nurses.

You'll never learn everything there is to learn, there's always something new, always an opportunity to improve your skills or learn new ones.

Even with experience, every new job or position involves a time of asking myself "what am I doing here???" because it takes a little time to learn how things are done in a particular place. And just when you think you've seen, or heard, everything, someone comes along and proves you wrong!

You'll become more comfortable in time. You will become more confident in yourself and your skills. Good luck!

Diva Nurse Dani

152 Posts

Specializes in Oncology, Home Health, Psychiatry. Has 6 years experience.

Thanks everyone!!!

All of your posts were really helpful! I guess I just had a moment where I needed to hear of others experiences to feel like I was not alone in this :( .

I have been sucking my preceptors dry of whatever info I can get from them, and they have been HUGELY supportive of me and the othe 2 newbies that started on the floor (we all started about 3 weeks apart).

I have gained support from (and for) my fellow newbies on the floor, and some of my friends from nursing school...yep, we call and cry and vent and giggle together too!!:rotfl:

Our hospital also has a new nurse program to help us with the transition (and believe really does help!) Its a 2 hour day once a month to learn from nurses of various stages (1 year to 20 years). the 2nd hour is for the newbies to talk about their experiences so far. I couldn't believe when I heard so many are ready to quit because of precepting problems. Even some of my friends from school are ready to quit.

Anyhoo...I really appreciate all the warm fuzzies I get here!! It's good to know that others can relate and we can come together to help each other get through the rough spots and "BE GREAT NURSES :nurse: " in the end!!!


6,011 Posts

Specializes in ORTHOPAEDICS-CERTIFIED SINCE 89. Has 30 years experience.

Sending you a Hug. And please remember you are among millions. We all had that first job, that first doubt and that first triumph.....

I cried every day after work for nearly a year. It does get better. It's slow though. There's a lot more info to be absorbed and that takes time.

Specializes in FNP, Peds, Epilepsy, Mgt., Occ. Ed.

Dani: Let your preceptors, and your co-workers, know how much you appreciate their time and efforts. You may already be doing that, but do it often.

And most nurses love to eat- homemade goodies or a pizza for lunch would be a nice way of saying thanks, too!


45 Posts

P_RN What made you cry? I worked 4 months on med/surg floors and quit and haven't even tried to find work. It was all about the other nurses. One nurse told me she went home and cried every night and even told me which nurses made her cry (and that was 9 years ago - and they still talk trash behind her back!). It seemed through school and then on the job that everyone was talking about how stupid someone (and I overheard one nurse talking that way about me ). It makes me feel so insecure that I'm afraid to try again.

Why, why, why do the nurses do that? I had a preceptor for 5 days and she couldn't wait to get off the floor and back in the ER. The nurse manager said the charge nurse would help me - well, some did but most made me feel like I was bothering them.

I may wait until Jan. and start at a hospital that has a 20-wk. orientation -- or I just might not. And clinics want experienced nurses so that isn't even a consideration.

If you have support from your nursing colleagues -- count your blessings and go for it!! Good luck, kiddos!

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