I worked in the PICU for 6 months right out of nursing school.
Just as a reference of what it was like...The unit hired 40 new grads within a 4 month period, 10 experienced nurses quit, 3 nurse educators quit. Through my 6 months orientation, I had between 15-19 preceptors; after a while, i stopped counting. I was told that this was due to not having enough preceptors. The whole unit was unhappy that there were so many new grads starting and many were forced to precept. Many made it vehemetly clear to every new nurse that they were a pain. We were talked bad about and treated as such.
As for me, I never did well at standing up for myself and as my rotation of preceptors changed every week, my confidence plummeted since each preceptors did not approve of the prior ways I was taught. Each week, I had to gain the confidence of the new preceptor. I honestly lost complete faith in myself. My focus changed from being patient centered to focusing on making my preceptor like/trust me.
It got to the point where each decision I had to make made me so anxious that I was unsure of which line I should give zolfran. Prior nurses had made me sit down and back up every decision why I wouldnt choose the other line, so choosing the CVL or the Broviac had me frozen. Another instance, my paralyzed/sedated pt BP and HR shot up 30-50 points over 10 min. I had PRN pain meds to give and wanted to use them; my precetor at the time railed me for 30 minutes and had me sit down and make an INRS chart, explain each reason that could cause an elevated HR and BP. In the end, she did not want me to give the PRN pain med, so I didnt. HR and BP remained elevated until next dose of methadone/ativan.
I talked to my educator multiple times regarding feeling stagnant. I asked for an extension of orientation and a stable preceptor. I was told yes for the extended and no for the preceptor. Reason given was that I had to learn to ' trust all the nurses on the unit'.
As my orientation continued, my confience hit rock bottom and I made mistakes I should never have made. At the end, the unit decided to not give me an extended orietnation and instead asked me to resign or get fired. I chose to resign hoping I could hold onto my good relations with my educator.- Now, after 2 weeks of me asking her to stand up on my behalf, she has declined.
Now that I'm 1 month out of nursing, I'm having difficulty explaining to new employers my experience and reason why I'm not at the HOSPITAL anymore. Furthermore, my leadership wont act as a reference upon my behalf. I'm feeling scared and trapped as an inexperienced new grad who already practically got fired.
Please help me. I'm feeling lost and desperate. I feel like I've lost my dream career.
Last edit by FNKA on Jun 4
: Reason: adding more detail
Best moved to career advice or first year section.
I sure hate to hear of experiences like yours.
I hope a manager will see this and might offer thoughts about how you can move forward and how one would appropriately discuss something like this with a potential employer. Conventional wisdom is that it's very unwise to discuss dissatisfaction regarding a previous workplace and/or "badmouth" your former employer. OTOH, having to leave out the 40-new-grads information would be quite unfortunate, since it betrays a toxic, dangerous, and ridiculous situation nearly by definition. I'll be interested to hear others' thoughts.
In the meantime, you have an opportunity here to ponder everything that has happened and take ownership of what you can. The rest you just have to let go.
You're out of that place now, so that's one point in your favor - at least for your future personal and professional well-being. That isn't a setting where many thrive.
I'm sorry that happened. In talking to potential employers, my suggestion is to walk the fence while being honest. Never speak badly of your previous employer. It shows both unprofessionalism and a bad attitude. It also never hurts being honest while not talking badly about your previous employer. For instance, "I had a lot of different preceptors in my time at X Hospital. They were very good nurses. I appreciate the time they spent in educating me and I learned that there are many ways to approach safe, quality nursing care, but I felt that I may personally benefit from a more consistent mentorship as a new graduate. Could you tell me about your orientation for first year nurses?"
As a preceptor of undergraduate nursing students, I always make a point to suggest that they ask specifically about the type of orientation they will receive at a new facility and to choose a facility that will give them a thorough and supportive orientation - even if that may not be their first dream job. The reason for this, as you've learned, is that an orientation that is not well organized or supportive can be frazzling to someone already frazzled about a new career with little experience in it. Moving to your dream area with 6 months to a year of experience and an amazing orientation is always a better option than starting in your dream area with a chaotic start and losing your love of what you do or your confidence. I suggest you look for options that would provide you with a stable orientation - even if you would normally dismiss it as an area you wish to work, until you build your confidence back up.
I'm very sorry for your experience but this will make you stronger. Sometimes things happen for a reason. Take some time to gather yourself and try to stay positive. Being a nurse is not easy, being new to the profession can be even more difficult.
Good luck to you
"I was one of forty new grads that started on the unit. It got a bit stressful for that unit, for both the preceptors and the new grads. Not all of us survived the situation. I did meet many fantastic nurses and role models and I'm so grateful for all they taught me."
That should let your prospective employers know a bit about the situation without badmouthing anyone.
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