Anxiety during clinicals - advice?

  1. Hey guys.

    I'm in my 3rd semester of nursing school and started clinicals last semester. I struggled with anxiety (and depression, but that's a whole 'nother can of worms) the whole time and while it was pretty darn awful, I pulled through.
    This semester I'm feeling the same way all over again - I thought I was over it.
    Other students just comment that I'm quiet (I barely talk to other students - also exceptionally introverted), need to work on my nerves, and I *do* get that.

    However, I'm pretty good with patients, despite me being quiet and shy (my evaluations last semester reflected this). Instructors, other nurses on the unit, etc. all tend to see me as a good student. I also volunteer to do stuff whenever the opportunity pops up, even if it makes me temporarily more anxious.

    Advice? I just feel like I'll never get past the anxiety and that I'll be a bad nurse, and that scares me (sorry for sounding dramatic, but I genuinely feel this way).
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    About ilovebirds

    Joined: Jul '14; Posts: 50; Likes: 12


  3. by   Ruby Vee
    We introverts have a tougher time being nurses. I was also incredibly anxious during clinical -- and during my first year of nursing, if I'm completely honest. Despite that, I've got 40 years at the bedside. There is no one magic solution; you sort of have to hang in there and figure out what works for you.

    Combat the anxiety by being as prepared as possible for each clinical. If you know your stuff, you'll have an easier time asking intelligent questions and pretending to be confident. (One plus for us introverts -- when the bad stuff happened, I just naturally froze for a moment. Then I remembered what to do and did it. People thought that was me being cool, calm and collected. Honestly -- I've seen that on eval after eval. They didn't know I was scared into immobility for a moment!)

    As far as being an introvert -- I'm bad at chatting but good at listening. You just have to ask a few questions to prime the pump.

    Good luck with your clinical, I hope this helped a little.
  4. by   ilovebirds
    Thank you for your input. It definitely helps knowing there are other introverts that share similar experiences.
    I definitely try to be as prepared as possible - when possible, that is! The two clinicals I have this semester don't have pre-lab the night before, which I think is triggering my anxiety more than usual.
    However, the real world doesn't let you pre-lab, so I guess it's a good thing to just suck it up, go with the flow, and get used to it!
    Definitely working on my communication skills more and discussing ways to improve with my instructor and nurses on the respective units.

    Thanks again!!!
  5. by   GrumpyOldBastard
    It is best to "kill this snake" now. Excessive anxiety &/or depression can be huge obstacles to happiness, relationships, and success in nursing school. Suggestions:

    • Learn and apply "cognitive behavioral therapy"... it can work wonders with anxiety and social skill issues.
    • Learn and apply relaxation and visualization techniques.
    • Consult with any on-campus mental health resources that you may have.
    • If you feel like harming yourself, get professional help ASAP.
  6. by   Guy in Babyland
    I am an introvert and really quiet in unfamiliar situations (clinicals and as a new grad). What made me less of an introvert to my coworkers and patients' families is experience. When I gained more experience, I was able to converse with the families about their baby's condition. Which lead to being more comfortable in casual conversations. Although the adage has been over over used, but "fake it, til you make it" works.
  7. by   Futurern2bebri
    Maybe check into seeing a doctor.
    i used to have anxiety attacks. Went to a doctor before and he prescribed me anti depressants (didn't help me but maybe it will for you). I stopped taking those within a week. I told myself "this is something I'll just have to deal with forever" so later on I went back to a different doctor for something completely non related. Turns out his speciality was endocrinology and he ran some tests and prescribed "natural" meds. I was a little weary if it would do anything. It did though! After 3 months, my body got over the attacks and I wean myself off the meds. I haven't had any in over a year.
    So long story short, it might be something deeper which is making you feel this way. Worth maybe getting it looked into. 🙂
  8. by   jtboy29
    When I first started clinicals I was nervous and anxious that I would do something to hurt the patient or put myself in danger of doing something wrong. For example, when I gave my first injection it was to a young child and hearing the child cry when I injected the needle got me thinking "Will I ever be able to give an injection?" Guess what? I can now give an injection with ease and proper technique. Same goes for being able to handle the site of feces made me gag and what my clinical instructor did was have me face the feces and to clean it up. It was tough because of the smell however; I got through it.
  9. by   Zombie_NSG_Student
    I'm an introvert too....also, a student, so not a success story yet ;D
    But I have worked as a CNA for several years. You certainly don't need to be a natural extrovert to be a good health care worker. Being a good listener is a strength you can capitalize on too.
    I've practiced being just extroverted enough to speak at more than a whisper. I've stood in front of a mirror and practiced open body, make eye contact, etc.
    As far as nerves go, it may be a matter of practice and familiarity. I think it took me a good year as a CNA to be comfortable and not anxious every time I went into a room. There's an element of following a script: knock, open door, make quick eye contact and smile as you foam in and grab gloves. Greet patient and ask how they are feeling....etc. You develop a flow to patient interactions, even though each is different. I still have to remind myself that this is a job that has a large element of awkwardness to it, so don't beat yourself up if you have an awkward moment or twenty. Just assure the patient you are there for them and care about them, and they won't care that you're not a motivational speaker or comedian.

    If this strikes you as not applicable or dismissive, you may want to seek a professional opinion. I used to have a prescription for anxiety medication, and tapered off of it eventually, as I learned better coping mechanisms.
  10. by   midwifemae
    I have GAD and it is NOT a reason to not become a nurse. Even being introverted is no reason to not be a nurse. I totally disagree with the guy suggesting that you need to "kill the snake" because this is something that is always with me. However, I do agree with others that seeking some help would be beneficial to you. I have worked closely with my PCP for years and with his help, we have agreed that I would seek counseling (go once every 1-2 weeks), exercise (yoga has been a wonderful stress and anxiety reducer) and medication. Good luck. You can do this and overcome the anxiety in a way that keeps it under control.
  11. by   EternalFeather
    I also am introvert. I used to get very anxious and get panic attacks when i was younger but now, not so much.
    Now I am a nurse for 2+ years and I think exposing myself to lots of new things made me stronger, i still get anxious but now i am more composed.
    Nursing needs all kinds of personalities except for lazy. thats my rationale.
    Being an introvert means you observant and a very good listener and very good at assessments. I use this to my advantage so that i can predict things and already take notes of what i should tell people so that i dont have to awkwardly talk for too long or keep asking like every second.
    Also i do some meditation or whatever to help keep me grounded. you should too. I like Watch or read inspirational stories. but mostly, youtube lol