Not one to give up


I'm not one to give up, but I sure have had some trying times, as a new grad in the ICU. There have been days that I feel I am getting the flow of things and am able to think ahead and even suggest treatments for my patients. Other days, I feel completely lost and have a hard time keeping up (i'm slow with everything. please tell me I'll get quicker) and it's worrisome to me, especially when there seem to be so many scrutinizing eyes.

Just a little background of my experience so far. I started orientation in November. I was hired for a night position, but I started off with a preceptor on day shift. I only just started nights last week. Anyhow, I have been bounced around between preceptors, either because they were sick or had other things going on, so that has made my experience a little bit more challenging. It has been nice to see the different nursing styles, though. Overall, I'm enjoying nights better. The teamwork and working environment is much more cohesive. Whereas, on days, there seemed to be so much more tension and turmoil among team members; a lot of gossip and unnecessary drama. It seemed that people were more concerned with what others were doing wrong rather than being a supportive network of coworkers. I felt the hostility and didn't much care for it, and there were remarks made and behaviors that were suggestive of talk behind my back, too.

I come from a place where the new guy is crapped on, until they make senior in rate. (nuclear power). The thought 'nurses eat their young' compares to the same mentality, so I know that, if I could make it through that, I can make it through this, too. Add that to my very new experience of being a nurse and it makes for stressful times. I know that I will gain confidence through experience. I know my weak areas, and I work on those. I just don't like feeling judged. That's the one thing that I truly struggle with and try to put behind me. I really appreciate constructive criticism, but the negativity and hostility that I sense from the unit at times is for the birds.

Specializes in ICU.

It will get better! Being bounced around between preceptors is bad, gossipy work environments are bad, a lack of teamwork is bad... it just sounds like you are having a bad experience overall. You've only been in it for two months, though... it definitely gets better with time, and two months isn't much time (though it does feel like forever while you are going through it). If you are already learning enough that you can anticipate what's going on after two months, more power to you! It sounds like you are doing great despite a bad situation to me.


46 Posts

It does get better, you will get faster, you will become more knowledgable about your patient population. The biggest thing is that with time you will learn better time management skills. During orientation and immediately off orientation, you are so busy trying to make sure you do what your suppose to that you don't think a whole lot about how to better manage your time. For example, never go to the supply room and get just one item. If you go in there for a bag of fluids, stop and look around and see what you can get for later. If you checked your IV tubing expiration dates at the beginning of the shift, then you can grab that stuff if you need to. Get a new inner cannula if you know you have to do trach care later. Get mini bags if you know you have an IV antibiotic later. A couple IVs and starter kit if you know the patient's IV is going to expire on your shift. Also, if you go to the med room for a PRN at 2000, go ahead and grab your patient's 2100 meds. Do your patient's bath as early in the shift as you can. You would be amazed at how much time these little things can save.

As far as the dayshift/nightshift and new nurse/old nurse attitude thing goes, you described my old unit to a "T." That must be fairly common.

Has 23 years experience.

I think detaching yourself from the ongoing gossip and hostility/judgmentalism is easier for some than others, but is ALWAYS a worthy thing to strive for.

If you were to get really 'scientific' about it -- go by empirical evidence, proven facts -- you'd have to admit you cannot 'read minds', or even 'read facial expressions' NEARLY to the degree that you actually RELY on them, habitually :)

In other words, ya don't have an inside track into what others are thinking about you. Mostly, what happens is you, of yourself, PROJECT your own insecurities onto the eye-rolling nurse you hand off report to. No, her eye rolling is not OK. Even better, what she thinks of you has nothing to do with you unless she/he offers constructive criticism. If they don't open their mouth, what htey THINK is irrelevant. Isn't that great news? :D

I'm not saying there aren't coworkers who literally seethe with resentment and hostility and finger pointing. Or coworkers who do that to a lesser degree. They are out there, it is part of human nature, unfortunately.

But who said these judgmental people are CORRECT? Why do we automatically assign GUILT to ourselves at the slightest look or word? I know I do it to this day, though I'm pretty on top of that crap and don't let it get to me like I did when I was younger and newer :)

It takes practice to detach yourself and your attention away from what you FANTASIZE is going through other people's heads. Deliberate practice.

That said, we evolved as highly dependent upon each other, so we're working against some instincts here to detach. We used to poop behind bushes too, but we've developed excellent sewage systems so there's really no reason we can't break even the oldest 'human habits'. Besides, your job and life satisfaction will skyrocket :D when you really get into the groove of drawing that boundary between yourself and others. I'm here to tell you :)


2 Posts

Specializes in MICU, SICU.

Sounds like an unfortunate situation in terms of coworkers. Especially in the ICU, having other nurses you know you can trust and count on for questions and advice is so important. I started in the ICU right out of school also, and I was (and still am) very fortunate to have such supportive coworkers.

Nights are definitely the best way to start out, as there is a lot more time to research and try to really understand your patients. I'm glad you are liking nights better.

As everyone else is saying, just give it time and I'm sure things will start falling into place. Good luck to you!


18 Posts

Thank you, all, for your responses. It's very nice to hear words of encouragement, especially coming from those with experience. I truly respect the experience of those, who have been in this longer than I have, and I'm such a fan of teamwork and support. Your advice and tips are very helpful, as well.

I agree that it is human nature to be "snarky" and just negative. There are times that I can lean that way, too. It just makes for a horrible working environment, though, so I work hard to put a smile on my face and look for the positive in every situation and every person. I just hope to inspire others to take on a more positive attitude, too. If not, that's ok...I'll just keep doing what I'm doing. Life is too short to be miserable, and being a nurse should never be miserable. I feel it's a blessing to look forward to going into work. It's not a place of misery for me. I just hope to not ever get burned out.


22 Posts

Remember 1st, you are in a toxic work environment; not all ICU is like yours, and there are many ICUs with supportive staffs, they welcome new RN with open arm and willing to do anything to help. My RN job started out that way and I did not know any better. So I concluded that they were right, I suck at my job, I am new grad who went straight to ICU and that was wrong. Well well. It just so happn that I work for different hospitals now (Agency) and I discovered that the difference was night and day. Even when you make mistake, or trying to be proactive and ask question before doing something stupid, people line up to help you out. No gosship at all.. They are all about team work and help each other (well in ICU you kinda have to) and there is no "Oh god it's that new girl again, what does she need help with."

Make sure you do not get a job from this ICU. Find another one. If you have more opportunity, talk flankly to your clinical instructor and ask for different assignment in different ICU/hospital. Culture in the unit could get so ridiculously toxic it is not worth fighting. If anyone make you feel like you are slow, remember that they werer even more slower (I bet) when they got started. Don't let other people's judgement be your own self evaluation. Remember that what your struggle stem from something situational.


39 Posts

Hey AN! Im also a new grad in a SICU.. started mid Feb an I feel this very same way smh as stated by @Ikoch002 I am not one to give up either but I can relate to everything that was said an appreciate all the encouraging responses.. It helps a lot! If anyone has any specific tips on success in an SICU feel free to share!