Nursing Student Advice

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I am in my second session of an Accelerated nursing program and completed my first clinical this week. In all honestly I've been feeling overwhelmed with the workload and seeing how much nurses have to do in a shift. On top of all of that, the RaDonda case has me terrified! I've dreamt of becoming a nurse since I was in middle school but I feel like I chose the worst time to start nursing school. I've also read a lot of Reddit posts and it's crazy how many nurses are leaving the profession or hate their jobs. I am in need of some words of encouragement or stories.

Thank you in advance! 


7,735 Posts

Specializes in retired LTC.

For every one person out there who doesn't like the job, there are prob hundreds, maybe thousands who do. They just don't make 'noise' about it. There's no 'LAW' that says you HAVE TO LOVE your job. No 'LAW' that says school (or that job) is supp to be easy. pokjAs long as you're not hating it and it's not making you ill in any way. That's prob where most nurses, past & present, fall on the bell curve. You're OK about the job.

No mistake about it - nursing is NOT easy. Esp not at this time - crazy world out there. As a student, you'll be overwhelmed. But then it should even out. Same as a newbie nurse - that first job will be overwhelming. Hopefully, it too will even out.



188 Posts

Specializes in ED.

Feeling overwhelmed in Nursing School is par for the course.

Remember, Radonda's case is getting a lot of attention because it is an outlier in a lot ways, both her unsafe choices and the severity of the outcome, and the severity of the charges. 

And a lot of nurses are leaving nursing and I respect that. Nursing is really a challenging job if you're at the bedside and institutional support is sorely lacking. Nurses are trained to assess! Nurses leaving the profession have done their self-assessment and I trust their decision. It makes me sad, because I know many of the nurses leaving the career are dedicated nurses who love the profession, who care deeply about patients, who have a wealth of knowledge and experience, and with proper pay or supports would love to continue to practice. 

About the fear factor when you're reading about Radonda, and I say all this humbly, with no cockiness because that is where I'll fall down if I get cocky. Confidence is never cocky. Confidence is being strong enough to  say, "Hey I need help here, I don't know what I'm doing, this doesn't seem right."

Part of what I love about nursing and what I learned in nursing school is to be self-aware and to be continually learning and growing. I have to know when I am unsure of what I am doing and there is no shame in that.  I work ER and even when I am in a mad rush on a crashing patient, if I have a moment's hesitation about what med I'm being asked to give, or about what's going on I just shout it out. I never do anything if I don't know what I'm doing, don't know what/why a med is being given, or am unsure of my skill at a certain procedure or with a piece of equipment. 

The time for safety is always NOW. Pt's lives are literally in your hands in those moments. You can rehash why you felt unsafe later when the crisis has passed. Stay in the moment, who cares if some resident or other nurse is judging you if you call a Time Out for safety or if you question why you're doing something. In the end what matters is you kept the pt safe. 

Developing a thick skin is something to practice. 

A little fear has always been a good thing in my mind, it keeps me learning and on my toes, keeps me looking up meds that I have not given in a while, keeps Davis's Drug Guide laying around my house to be picked up anytime to study!

I cannot give drugs blindly just because a doctor ordered it. I need to know, in my own mind, why I'm giving every single drug I give and what is the expected outcome. Having the right reason for the med and the expected outcomes/responses clear in my mind will, hopefully, prevent many errors.

The 5 Rights of Med Administration are not just boxes to be checked, in my mind they are a pause in the process so that I am sure, each time, I know what the heck I'm doing to a person.

I love nursing, in the big picture it has really enhanced my life and made me grow as a human being... and yet I also am frequently frustrated with the lack of institutional support, the constant short-staffing and lack of support staff, excess documentation, lack of proper functioning equipment, all of which lead to safety issues. 

Keep a journal and practice self-assessment - there is no shame in bailing on a program that you realize isn't right for you, there is no shame in going all the way through (in fact it's a huge accomplishment) and deciding after working in the profession for a while that it is not for you...that education will not be wasted. There are so very many different things you can do as a licensed RN. Just do you!! 

Wishing you all the best wherever the road takes you!