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New + very stressed = really need some help!

Stress 101   (1,474 Views 3 Comments)
by BNE103 BNE103 (Member)

BNE103 has 7 years experience and works as a Clinical Educator for NICU, PICU, and Peds Units; .

5,236 Visitors; 38 Posts


Hi everyone,

This is a pretty personal post for me, but I felt like it might be a good idea to share what's going on with me here, since fellow nurses might be the best way

I'm a brand new graduate nurse...just graduated nursing school 3 weeks ago, and started at my new job the day after graduating!

Week 1: NCLEX review course...hundreds of review questions plus constant reminder of how important and scary the NCLEX is...

Week 2: Hospital-wide nursing orientation...competency check-offs, learning about how insurance and other benefits work, and receiving a giant orientation binder from my unit educator to top it all off...

Week 3: Starting on the unit (NICU)...got my new preceptor, orienting to everything going on, realizing that it's much more "real" now that I'm not "just a student" anymore, trying to figure out what everyone expects of me, trying to find where I fit in...

On top of all of that, I'm recently engaged and planning a wedding, and this is my very first real-world job. Though I'm 25, my BSN was my second college degree (which I started directly after graduating with my first degree), so I have been in school every year since kindergarten. When I say this is new territory for me, it's not just because I'm a new nurse. EVERYTHING is new, including what it's like to have an actual income.

And, of course, the always present dread of the NCLEX! Which I'm taking in just 19 days!! (trying not to freak out by just typing that!!)

And on top of all of THAT...my biggest worry...anxiety.

During my first degree, I became an EMT. NOTHING made me pass out. Total adrenaline junkie. But during my third semester of nursing school, while pulling a central line on one of my patients, I passed out. I'm still not entirely sure how or why (I was unusually hungry that morning so I think it might've been just low blood sugar + some nerves from doing a new procedure). Ever since then, I cannot get over the nagging feeling of "what if I pass out again"? I think the fear of passing out itself is making me feel like I'm going to pass out sometimes.

But how do I get over it?? I never saw the first episode coming, so how do I know I won't get blindsided again? But being afraid, especially when I'm nervous (which is often because I'm new!), is starting to affect my work.

Anxiety itself is nothing new to me, either. In January, I was diagnosed with PTSD as a result of a botched medical procedure I had when I was younger. Looking back, it explains a lot, such as why I would get anxious so easily and battled with OCD for several years. Plus, this year, I've been having a lot of what I think are panic/anxiety attacks (feeling hot, dizzy, sweating, nausea, abdominal cramps, etc.).

Now I just don't know what to do, and I feel like it's getting worse with all of the expected stress of being a new grad. My fiance, family, and friends are all pretty supportive, but I don't think they really have the solutions to help me get over all of this and be more confident in what's going on.

Sorry if this is information overload. Like I said, I just wanted to post on here in hopes someone could give me some wise words of encouragement or advice. I really need some and appreciate it if you've read this far!

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SunnyC has 3 years experience.

625 Visitors; 3 Posts

Wow, I got anxious just reading about your anxiety! I think it's good you are reaching out to others who have faced similar experiences. I think my first thought at the end of your note was that based on your report of physical s/s it may be good for you to see your doctor/np/pa. Besides that, just breathe and try to take things one day at a time. About the nclex, you've taken a review and have done practice questions which is good. Don't let this press on you too much, do some practice questions each day but really try not to dwell on it. The practice questions really helped me. I graduated 2 years ago so I remember the new nurse stresses very well (and still feel them sometimes but not nearly as often). Again, take it one day at a time. You are not expected to know absolutely everything at this point, you are finding your footing as a nurse, which takes time. Find a few mentors at work that you can lean on and vent to. This helps alot. I think my biggest anxieties were feeling overwhelmed and incompetent. Many of my work friends reassured me that everyone feels this way at some point, even experienced nurses. You will get through it, one day at a time, one success at a time, one bad day at a time. Try to be kind to yourself, I know it is easier said than done, it took me a while to stop beating myself up about the small things. Many nurses I work with reminded me that nursing is a 24/7 job, life in the icu goes on after you walk out the door. It truly is a team endeavor. Try to take some comfort in that, everything does not rest on your shoulders alone. Congratulations on the wonderful new things in your life!!

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Maevish has 9 years experience and works as a RN.

9,600 Visitors; 396 Posts

Working in the ICU is tough...we do a lot of stuff and you can go from relaxed to a nervous nelly in 3 seconds flat. that goes for all the emotions though. When I think I'm getting too stressed out or its really really busy, I just try to take a couple deep breathes and tell myself that the night has to end sometime and that I just need to make sure I'm doing my best (unless, of course your pt is crashing or trying to! Haha).

It's hard to say what WILL help though, cause even the above doesn't work for me all the time, but usuAlly at least around 85% of the time. I find that the less good sleep I get, the easier it is to get stressed out.

Another thing is to remember that there will (well, SHOULD be anyways) ALWAYS be someone around who has more experience than you, no matter what your level of nursing. USE them! The more you learn, you should start noticing that you stress less and less. I know I did....things that made me freak a couple years ago when I started in the unit don't even bother me anymore. But you'll always have certain days where you'll be stressed the whole shift. That's when you smile to yourself, realizing that you WILL get to go home eventually! :D

Good luck on the test!!!!!!!!!


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