Should I give L & D 1 year?

  1. Dear All,

    I am 9 mo post graduation w/ a BSN (and prior BS in education). I thought I would love L & D nursing. I am working at a high-risk, high-volume hospital with a short staff. I LOVE my patients and working with them but the stress is overwhelming. I am afraid all the time. My body won't adjust to nights and working the weekends and holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's) is a bummer. I have to apply for vacation 6 mo out and I am always being the called the days I am off. I feel guilty when I say no because I know what it feels like to juggle so many patients.

    I would like to go to clinic nursing but have heard from so many older nurse friends to stay at least 1-2 years. I would leave my position not feeling entirely competent and colleagues tell me to that things will get better by 1 year. I am afraid to leave and afraid to stay.

    I would like to go to clinic nursing but I don't know if I am giving up too soon. Did you some of you wait it out for 1 year and you became more confident and comfortable. I don't want to give up a job that many new grads are wanting. I had to work hard to convince the manager to hire a new grad and many of our hospitals won't do it until you have 1 year of MBU experience. I just don't know what to do and was hoping someone could give me advice on staying or going to another floor or clinic nursing.

    For some background, I have volunteered with families for 6 years assisting with birth as labor support. I went to nursing school knowing that my only pathway was L & D. Yet, here I am 9 mo later wishing that I had not even considered nursing. Can someone give some advice?

    Thanks so much,

  2. Visit SpudID profile page

    About SpudID

    Joined: Dec '03; Posts: 55; Likes: 3


  3. by   Annointed_RNStudent
    Just a student here, but I too built a nursing career around wanting to work L&D, and I am sad to hear that you are having such a struggle... The only thing that I can think of is to perhaps go part-time, or encourage your managers to hire new grads, a bunch of new grads want L&D, and perhaps get the to sign a committment, that may help with the load, not right away but in the future... I would encourage you not to get too burnt out though, or you may want to quit nursing alltogether, and unfortunately the circumstances that you are in , almost makes you want to think nursing is not that rewarding... I would encourage you to just say NO sometimes, as you will kill yourself working all the time~

    Best of Luck~
  4. by   dragonflyRN
    The great thing about nursing, is that you have many options.
  5. by   dragonflyRN
    i thought i wanted l&d....but i don't
  6. by   Mrs.S
    I have been doing L&D for about 18 months now, and I think when I had been there about a year is when I started feeling fairly comfortable. not overly confident, mind you, but not scared all the time anymore and not feeling like a loser for always asking so many questions. I never did consider leaving but the learning curve was pretty steep indeed.
    however, I wasn't a new grad. I did mom-baby and peds for 2 years first. I think being a new grad is tough all on its own, regardless of where you start out. maybe you just need more time. I agree, don't burn yourself out. but if it's something you really want to do you might want to hang in there a little longer before you decide.
    good luck!
  7. by   SmilingBluEyes
    I think you might want to give it a bit more time. It took me about 2-3 years to feel truly comfortable as an L/D nurse. If after a year -18 months you still feel this way, maybe then, it's time to re-examine your options and perhaps, change specialties.

    IF after a year of working in your unit, you just can't stand it, you COULD always try working in another OB unit in a different hospital. The working environments and climates do vary by location/hospital and not all are bad and horribly stressful places to work.

    Now, if you feel you are truly burning out, (and it sounds to me you are)---try taking a little vacation, if at all possible. ( knowing you have to request it in advance). Also you may try taking some classes or attending some conferences related to our specialty. I have often found these "breathe life" into our nursing practices and really give us a chance to network and exchange ideas as well as frustrations with others who understand.

    LEARN TO SAY NO or not answer the telephone. You are NOT obligated to work your butt off to cover holes or shortfalls in staffing. You need time off to regenerate, recharge and refresh. Make sure you take it. If you must, then unplug your phone when you are off, or at least don't answer it. If you don't pick up, no one can beg or twist your arm to come in!!!! JUST SAY NO to excessive OT and working on your days off.

    Also one possibility would be to consider going into childbirth education and/or teaching. Maybe you would love that....and it would take you away from the bedside.

    One cautionary note: You may want to be aware MANY dr offices and clinics do not hire RNs at all, but hire mainly LPNs or MA's. Check around before you quit to see if there are openings for you and also make sure you can take the almost-certain paycut that would follow in doing so.

    Take care and I am sorry you are having a tough time. I feel for you.
    Last edit by SmilingBluEyes on Oct 20, '06
  8. by   nurse79
    I totally understand how you feel!! I am new to L/D also actually 2 months and i'm SOOOOO overwhelmed. I did MBU for 3 years so it isnt completely new but I too feel scared all the time..thinking of every possible OB emergency and if i will recognize them in time. I know it takes feel a little comfy but use your resources!! thats the best advice i can tell you, and thats what ive been told. see how you feel in a year. it is a big adjustment but if you love it, you can do it. think of how accomplished you feel after each delivery. we really are making a huge difference/impact in so many ppls lives. good luck!!
  9. by   canoehead
    I had 6 years experience before I did L/D in a small hospital but still took a year to feel confident.

    Can you switch to a less acute OB department, and then apply again at your dream job?

    Regarding extra shifts- don't even give them the opportunity to ask- don't answer the phone. You need time to recharge, especially that first year.
  10. by   travelerD-OB
    Dear SpudID,
    I have been teaching L&D and Nursery for over 25 years. Here are some things to consider. First, do you have a pre-ceptor who is genuinely interested in teaching you, and what is her experience? Have you been to a basic fetal monitoring class?
    If you are not feeling well supported, you need to talk to your manager. L&D is a tough area to learn. I have taught new grads who have turned out to be some of the best L&D nurses I know, and I have taught some that couldn't cut the mustard. Only you truly know how you are feeling. If you need a break from it, get out, and try something else, maybe in a related field, or a smaller hospital.
    I had been doing L&D at smaller hospitals for 20 years,and then became a traveling nurse. My first L&D at a university teaching hospital was hell on wheels. Despite feeling very comfortable with my knowledge base, the pace,the pt. acuity and the nurse to pt. ratio was tough to get used to.
    The bottom line is don't risk your pts. or your license.
    Hope this helps. D.
  11. by   sanssnow
    I've been a labor and delivery nurse for many years. It took years to adjust to the night shift and it took years to be comfortable in labor and delivery. Please don't be too hard on yourself; do what makes you happiest! There is nothing wrong with clinic nursing but if labor & delivery is what you love, you will do fine. You will adjust to both nights and the stress of the job!
    My advice to all new nurses is not to be too hard on yourself as nurses tend to do be hard enough on each other.
  12. by   SpudID
    THANX so much for your well said advice. I have caller ID now and I don't have to answer the phone. Secondly, I received a letter and a bouquet of roses from two separate families to thank me for their care. It made me feel like I was at least serving the pt. I hope/pray that things will get better. I am trying to be more forgiving of myself, like advised.

    I have taught childbirth education for >6 years through another hospital system, but can't do it and nursing. I sub occasionally.

    I think I need to give it until January and then decide how I feel about my learning curve.

    Thanks again!

  13. by   flytern
    It sure looks different when you're responsible for the patient doesn't it?
    Do you feel that your hospital has given you the proper training to do your job with confidence? Not that you're going to see everything during orientation, but the basics?
    Are you okay with IV starts, vag exams.....
    Sometimes I think new grads are pampered during orientation, and then expected to work like a seasoned pro the minute they are on their own.
    Is it fair? No way.
    Talk to your unit manager. But have a game plan. Tell her what you're uncomfortable with, what you feel like you need more help with...

    Lastly, do what makes you happy. Being a nurse is a lifelong profession.
    (even when you're not on the clock) Do you want to spend that time being unhappy? Not every can adjust to midnights. I've been doing it for 20 years and love it. But I've seen great nurses have to leave because either their families or their bodies can't adjust to the changes. Unfortunately, the rest of the world still lives 9-5 (mon-fri).

    I've done clinic nursing also, and there are some parts that I still miss. You really do get to know your patients, seeing them month after month. These nurses are important too.

  14. by   SpudID
    Thanks for your response Flytern. I feel good about my IV starts. I seldom do vaginal exams as I am at University hospital and there are usually med students lined up to do vaginal checks. I have been reprimanded for doing ot without asking first; so I just don't bother and notify the provider.

    I have some great charge RNs but one is difficult on me. She expects me to take psych/difficult pts and complains about me if I take too long/spend too much time in the room/do anything wrong. It is really discouraging. She is little support when I am in the OR and I really dislike working when she is on (which is a lot). I figure RNs like this exists everywhere so transferring or going to clinic may just put me in the same position.

    I think the hardest thing for me is my complete lack of confidence. By day 4 of my stretch, I am exhausted and ready to quit. It is difficult. I don't want to be miserable but I don't want to give up if I am at the cusp of a major break through.

    Anyhow, thanks for inquiring. Today was day #4. Arrghh!