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Please help! I'm a new grad.

pink8 pink8 (Member)


I am a new graduate nurse and feeling way out of my depth, perhaps a good analogy is; I feel as if my head is just above the water. I had doubts whether I still wanted to become a nurse when I was nearing the end of my training but I ignored those feelings, as I put it down to nerves and anticipation of what was to come. Unfortunately, I now find myself very unhappy and wishing that I had not pursued this career at all.

I was wondering, did anyone else feel this same way? Does this feeling pass or will it get worse? And how did you cope?

Thank you in advance. :yes:

Meriwhen, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psych ICU, addictions.

Moving to our First Year After Nursing Licensure forum for more targeted responses.

Short answer: yes, it does go away.

Long answer: what you are experincing can be called Reality Shock. It's what new nurses experience as they transition from nursing as a student to nursing in the real world. Many new nurses find that nursing isn't what it's like on TV, how it was portrayed in textbooks during school (i.e. Ivory Tower Nursing) and/or it wasn't like what they'd thought it would be. The reality of nursing is usually a lot harsher than our fantasies make it out to be.

That plus the fact that you've lost your safety net of clinical instructors and your classmates, and now you are expected to function autonomously. You've lost that direction that you had enjoyed during clinicals. Before, all you had to do is show up, take care of your assigned patients (and not even do total care), and whack out a care plan or two. Now you have to do everything, and for far more patients than you ever had during your clinicals. The decisions that the instructors may have made for you are now all yours to make. If something goes wrong, no longer is the blame shared with those instructors: it's all on your shoulders...and "I'm a student" no longer applies as an excuse, whereas "I didn't know, I'm a new grad" won't cut it.

That's a lot for a new grad nurse.

If you are lucky, you landed in a new grad residency and/or found a really good mentor to guide you through those waters. Maybe you even landed in the specialty/setting you hoped to be in. But the reality is that most new grads don't end up in cushy residencies and have to endure a trial by fire. And often in a different specialty or setting than they hoped. Talk about pressure...it'd be enough to put anyone off of the field.

IMO, I would stick it out for a year. Realize that it won't be a smooth year, that it will take a long time for that confidence to grow, that you will have ups and downs, that you will stumble and fall and make mistakes...and be gentle with yourself when you do. That doesn't mean don't take things seriously or don't try to learn from your mistakes: you better do both. But don't beat yourself up.

If you don't have a mentor that you can go to for help and guidance, find one. You can ask your manager to recommend one, or see which nurse(s) on that staff that you relate well to and ask if they will help you.

If after a year you feel the same way, then perhaps bedside nursing isn't the best spot...and with a year's experience under your belt, you can explore some of the other specialties in nursing that may be a better fit. Or you may decide that nursing itself is not the career for you...and that's not necessarily a bad thing either.

Best of luck.

Edited by Meriwhen

Thank you very much Meriwhen for your insight. :yes:


Specializes in Hematology/Oncology. Has 3 years experience.

We will have ups and downs. today was a down for me. I will get a good nights sleep and make it up tomorrow.

It is pretty common to have this feeling of 'shock' when you first move into that place as an RN from school. There are a lot of expectations that school creates for us, couple those with our own notion of what nursing 'should-be' and it pretty much ensures that there will be some level of 'Oh Crap, what is this career I have chosen?'

I agree with Meriwhen,,find a mentor and hang with it for a year before you give up the education you worked so hard to get.

There are so many areas of nursing that you can go into...not just what you are doing now. I floated from ICU to a psych floor the other day and was surprised at how little it looked like my usual job.

Hang in there!

Pink..yes! It is normal and everything that Meriwhen says is true!

I got so lucky, a couple of my classmates got on at the same hospital and we found another couple of new grads as well. We get together once or twice a week just to vent and share our experiences...you would be surprised how helpful it is!!! I strongly suggest you try to do the same where you work. Nothing like a support group to make you realize you aren't alone! If you have no classmates at your facility, you should still be able to contact some that are working elsewhere. Once you hear what they are going through, I bet you feel better!