New nurse, how incompetent am I really?

by NewnightRN (New) New Nurse

Specializes in PCU. Has 3 years experience.

Hi, new graduate nurse here in a residency program on a PCU floor.

I moved my whole life (partner, dog, house, etc.) to a different state for this residency program because I thought the work culture wasn’t going to be the traditional old nurses picking on new nurses deal. Upon arriving on the unit, I have been pushed to CNA work and being a sitter for every shift except for my very first one.

I feel as if my nursing coworkers have expectations that I should know everything. Example: I am sitting for a patient that has chronic pain and is on a PCA pump. They require a sitter due to SI. I got yelled at by the primary RN for not reporting respirations of 9 when the parameters say to notify when they are 8 or less. I feel like they aren’t communicating what they expect of me and I have cried during my shifts because they honestly make me feel stupid. I know I’m not, I have a BSN and had to interview well to get my PCU position, but I can’t shake the feeling of inadequacy when my coworkers are constantly reprimanding me for things that I am not aware of just because they either didn’t tell me or I am too inexperienced. Please any advice?

WestCoastSunRN, MSN, CNS

Specializes in CVICU, MICU, Burn ICU. Has 26 years experience. 496 Posts

The first question I have is, what are you doing being a sitter for a patient while you are in residency? Residency is about education and building competency -- a time of intense study and orientation with a preceptor(s) and educators who plan assignments based on your learning and skills development needs. Is this not what is happening?


6,088 Posts

40 minutes ago, KikiherreraRN said:

I can’t shake the feeling of inadequacy when my coworkers are constantly reprimanding me for things that I am not aware of just because they either didn’t tell me or I am too inexperienced. Please any advice?

You're worried about the wrong things and asking the wrong questions. ETA: Theme of feeling so inadequate is inappropriate.

How many shifts have you worked at this job in total?

You feel inadequate because of ridiculous criticisms by your coworkers while, meanwhile, you appear to be being relegated to work that is not at all what the position was held out to be?


Edited by JKL33

"nursy", RN

Specializes in ICU, ER, Home Health, Corrections, School Nurse. Has 40 years experience. 289 Posts

I would immediately talk to your unit manager and find out what the deal is. If they are aware that this is going on, and will not support you, then you should probably look for another position. Hopefully, they are not aware, and after speaking with them the situation will change. Their treatment of you is totally inappropriate, and not what a residency is supposed to be.


Specializes in oncology, MS/tele/stepdown. Has 6 years experience. 746 Posts

Just a heads up - if your username is similar to your real name, you will want to change it. The internet is not anonymous.

Your situations is completely jacked. Like PPs have said, your residency is about you being supported in your new role as a nurse, no filling ancillary staffing gaps. You need to have a talk with your management.


Has 2 years experience. 140 Posts

During a residency program- they usually evaluate your progress every week. Make a note of the things that happened , date and time. If you had talked to a charge nurse about your assignment , note that. And what they’ve said verbatim and who it was. Make a journal. Notebook is an app I use to document things that happen in my nursing career. It’s great.

but a sitter ... making RN money? Hmm🤔

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 15years medical. Has 43 years experience. 1 Article; 9,481 Posts

In dealing with situations like this, NewnightRN. we have to ask ourselves in which way do we want to respond? As the victim or the hard ball player?


1,532 Posts

Have you passed NCLEX yet? I know many of our new grad residency nurses haven’t passed it yet. When I was in residency many moons ago, we couldn’t do any nursing tasks until we graduated the residency program. Even if we passed nclex.

Have you talked to those in charge of your residency program and asked if you are getting appropriate things? You should not be a sitter. You’ve not even had training on sitting.

Have you talked to your unit manager? We can’t really answer things for you on here. You need to speak with your higher ups.


Has 8 years experience. 65 Posts

Hmm what a weird residency program that you are in. Have you try talking to other nurses about your residency program to see if this is how it's supposed to be or what? But yea, do speak to your manager/supervisor and see what is up?

speedynurse, ADN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in ER, Pre-Op, PACU. 536 Posts

I remember my new grad time very well and for the most part, my team was very supportive. However, I have been in situations where a team is not supportive and it can make the job so much harder to trudge through. Been there - done that!

I know you have to be very frustrated and uncertain about how the rest of your residency is going to go. It is not right for more experienced nurses to ever treat new grads with disrespect or to belittle them - they are supposed to be looking out for you. However, one thing to possibly curb the behavior is to mention, "I am a brand new nurse, but I would love to learn anything you are willing to teach me." For the most part, this stops the behavior and makes nurses realize their part in needing to look out for each other. I would also speak to your manager about the learning expectations so you know where you stand.

Remember - we have all started out as a new grad and needed a team to support our growth 🙂

Dani_Mila, ADN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Subacute Rehab, Geriatrics, LTC, Psych, Hospice. Has 4 years experience. 348 Posts

OP how are you doing in PCU?