Not successful in clinicals


I failed 3rd semester 2 weeks before the semester was over in clinical. I then repeated the 3rd semester and withdrew about halfway through because I was not doing well in clinicals again and my instructor told me that it would be unlikely that I could finish the rest of the semester without making any mistakes.

I got B's in theory but my insecurities (lifelong feelings of being inferior/unliked) and fears (of failing due to believing that I wasn't intelligent when I was an adolescent and young adult which I tried to prove myself wrong by getting into nursing school later in life) kept me from being able to keep it all together on the floor. I just wasn't fast enough. I like to be meticulous and do things right. I felt so overwhelmed and rushed because of all that needed to be done with my patients that I would feel discombobulated. One time, my clinical instructor said I might be better at doing something more focused. At first I was insulted because I felt that nursing was all I ever wanted to do and I thought that as long as I didn't give up I would get better, faster and get a rhythm.

A little background of what I also had going on while in nursing school. I'm married and have 2 teen girls. My husband, instead of helping out, worked harder than ever at his job. He was constantly upset about the messy house, lack of dinners prepared by me, sporadic grocery shopping, etc... My oldest daughter and my husband fought like crazy and he would pull me in the middle and tell me to fix it. During round #2 of 3rd semester, I put myself in counseling and my daughter too because she told me she was depressed. In 2 years, I gained 30 pounds, had high blood pressure and low vitamin D. Shortly after pulling the plug on nursing school, my daughter began cutting and tried to commit suicide. I am glad I withdrew when I did because she might not be alive if I didn't. My daughter is now on medication, feeling much better and is in her senior year. She was diagnosed with ADHD and when I read more about it, I realized that I probably have it too and that may be part of the reason why I struggled so much in clinical. That's beside the point though.

Because of everything I went through, I just want to be available for my daughter as much as I can until she graduates and goes off to college. But in a year, I'd like to re-visit going back to school. I'm in my 40's, have no college degree and very little work experience (I was a stay at home mom). I want to work and earn a living. As much as I wanted to be a nurse, I am pretty traumatized from the whole experience. I keep thinking about what my clinical instructor told me about doing something more focused and I wonder if going into Respiratory Therapy might be a better fit? I'm not worried about the classes and tests. I just want to know what the clinical experience is like before I start the application process.

Ruby Vee, BSN

67 Articles; 14,022 Posts

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

I'm sorry for all your troubles.

That said, it doesn't sound as though you have a thick enough skin to deal with the non-clinical side of clinicals. What are you going to do the first time a CNA tells you to "do it yourself, witch."? Or a patient tells you you're fat and ugly and he wants the cute blonde nurse? The first time a physician gets irritated because you called him at 2AM and didn't have all your ducks in a row? The first time you make a really big mistake (we all make them -- I've made some whoppers) and someone looks at you with all the scorn of a two-year nurse who thinks she knows everything and that you know nothing?

Respiratory therapy, X-ray techs, pharmacy techs -- and many other non-nursing health care personnel -- have a much shorter and less expensive education and a whole lot less exposure to negative interpersonal interactions. Start there. It's never too late to go back to school to be a nurse, and you just might find that respiratory therapy or mammography is your passion.


214 Posts

Has 16 years experience.

You might try looking at the job openings available at your local hospital and clinics. There are many health related careers out there. Try shadowing a few to see what their day is like and speak with a career counselor to find out what you would be best suited for. Best of luck.


1 Article; 1,265 Posts

Specializes in Hospice. Has 3 years experience.

I say if it's your dream, don't give up on it. It doesn't sound like your home life allowed you to make the full commitment needed for NS, so if that situation hasn't changed I don't know if the timing is right. However, if you think your home situation won't be too much of a distraction I would say try again. As for a thick skin, yeah, you will need that. Snarky people exist in every field.


3,677 Posts

Specializes in L&D, infusion, urology. Has 2 years experience.

I think the first thing you need is to focus on YOU. By that, I mean see a counselor to work on the inferiority feelings and to work on coping mechanisms and stress management and such. By tackling those issues, you'll have MUCH better success in whatever field you choose to enter. The stress of nursing school definitely wears on everyone (sounds like your husband and daughter got their share of stress from it as well), so finding what works for everyone to help manage this stuff will make a big difference. I think most marriages and LTRs go through some major strain in nursing school.

ADHD is NOT "beside the point," if you really think you have it. Get it treated. That will make a big difference in your success as well.

Have you thought about working as a CNA to hone your basic skills, so that you feel more comfortable in clinicals? You can really hammer down the basics, and observe nurses doing the stuff you were doing in nursing school so that by the time you DO go back, you have more familiarity. Personally, I feel that accuracy (and safety) needs to come before speed, but if the speed never comes, it'll be hard to hold a job. The market in CA, especially in major cities like Sac, is tough, so in order to be competitive, you'll need to be able to have this stuff down and be able to pick up on new stuff quickly.

Good luck!!