Preparing for nursing school (squeamishness, fear of needles, getting in shape?)

Posted

Hi everyone! I will be a junior in a BSN program and starting my actual nursing/clinical courses in the fall. My ultimate goal is to be an outpatient psych NP, and while I am very interested in the nursing field as a whole, giving shots and physical nursing has not been my largest interest area. I still want to do well though and learn as much as I can.

I sort of felt the same way about prereqs- scared, as they were out of my comfort zone (anatomy and physiology especially) and ended up liking these subjects by the end. I'm hoping the same thing will happen with nursing clinicals/labs, but I might need some help preparing.

Can you give me any advice as far as getting ready for the physical aspects of nursing education? How to avoid my squeamishness/fear of needles? Would it be helpful to get in better physical shape for next semester? Any warnings as far as "gross" tasks I'll need to complete and to become emotionally prepared?

Thank you! I'm getting quite nervous and appreciate any of your feedback!

scatterpearl

scatterpearl

8 Posts

I'm a pre-nursing student and having similar thoughts, so I hope this gets some insightful replies. In an informational session I went to I heard about a WOC program that interested me... even though I am a naturally very squeamish person. Weird. I started trying to read a bit about that field, and I found that the more I learned about it the less "gross" it seemed to me. I think it'll take a while, but I'm feeling like it's technical knowledge that will help getting past squeamishness moreso than just "getting used to it," which is what I had assumed before.

Trenata

Trenata

293 Posts

I am still a pre-nursing student, so I don't know how to answer the question about squeamishness which I have felt somewhat concerned about lately. However, I am working on getting in shape by walking everyday. As a nurse you WALK a lot. The school I am considering lists it as a requirement to be able to walk 5 miles per day. When I did work in a hospital, I DID WALK a lot even though I wasn't a nurse. Secondly, I think just gaining some strength by weight training will help to lift heavy patients.

I personally feel that being in shape will help handle the physical stress better.

MathHatingNurse

MathHatingNurse

33 Posts

I have a strong stomach so few things bother me (except spiders, of course). However, doing things on a real human the first time is intimidating for anyone. For me, the scary thing was the Foley. I was sweating bullets during my first one, but after that, I felt like, "okay, that wasn't bad at all." Needles can be scary too because, as we know, everyone hates needles. The key is to let your clinical instructor know if you do not feel comfortable. I have never met a clinical instructor (I am in last semester so I have had quite a few over all of the required clinicals) that is not willing to coach you through it and even jump in if you ask them to.

As for fitness, fitness is always a good thing. Right now, I am doing 13-hour critical care clinicals and if I was not in decent shape, I imagine my back and feet would be in severe pain at the end of the day lol. To be honest, exercise also helps with stress and nursing school is stressful, especially if you are like me and work more than full-time, are taking a full course load and have folks at home that require your care. Looking back, I exercise more now that I have less time just to burn off that stressful energy and it helps immensely. It also helps to be strong and have some endurance when you are literally running around for hours and hours at clinicals or your internship.

TWiersch, strength helps so much with lifting. Also, keep proper lifting techniques in mind so you don't blow our your back. As we know, our population is getting bigger and bigger and there are lifts, but these are not always available. When lifting, do not be afraid to ask for help because this will increase both your safety and patient safety.

Lastly, things get less gross over time. I've seen buckets of blood, gun shot wounds, etc. Things I thought would make me either pass our or vomit, but I was so interested in how these things were handled, that my interest overshadowed the gross factor. Make sure you eat a good breakfast (I am a hypocrite here because I don't do breakfast, but having something in your stomach helps when you see things that make you squeamish) and remember that can do these things. Nerves are perfectly normal, but I promise that after you do things a few times, you start feeling a lot more confident.

FuturePsychNP

FuturePsychNP

116 Posts

Hi everyone! I will be a junior in a BSN program and starting my actual nursing/clinical courses in the fall. My ultimate goal is to be an outpatient psych NP, and while I am very interested in the nursing field as a whole, giving shots and physical nursing has not been my largest interest area. I still want to do well though and learn as much as I can.

I sort of felt the same way about prereqs- scared, as they were out of my comfort zone (anatomy and physiology especially) and ended up liking these subjects by the end. I'm hoping the same thing will happen with nursing clinicals/labs, but I might need some help preparing.

Can you give me any advice as far as getting ready for the physical aspects of nursing education? How to avoid my squeamishness/fear of needles? Would it be helpful to get in better physical shape for next semester? Any warnings as far as "gross" tasks I'll need to complete and to become emotionally prepared?

Thank you! I'm getting quite nervous and appreciate any of your feedback!

I'm not really into "physical nursing" as you put it either. I like knowing stuff, and I like seeing people do stuff. By that I mean, I love learning about physiology and pathophysiology, and I enjoy seeing other people enact various medical interventions (most of which are things nurses don't do). However, I'm not really keen on actually doing anything hands on. I'm not squeamish, and I'm not scared of needles. It's just not what I want to personally be doing. I got into this for outpatient psych as well, lol. The only thing I'm averse to is feces. Yes, when I started it wasn't that big of a deal, but now I'm rather repulsed by it to the point I have to calm myself when exposed to it. Yes, I'm being serious. I'm not visibly upset by it, but I have a mental crisis of "If I see this **** one more time I'm gonna flip out!" I'm actually leaving hospital nursing entirely in August (or sooner) so that'll be a welcome chapter closing in my life, lol. I don't want to get used to it either as the site and smell of human excrement shouldn't be a cool, normal thing.

The best way to get over needles would be to go to the pharmacy, buy a bag of diabetic syrines, and randomly jab yourself with them, lol. Just kidding. Don't do that. I have a dark sense of humor, lol. Remember you're going to be sticking other people. Not yourself.

As for getting in better physical shape...absolutely!! It's great to be in shape. If you're not now and don't exercise you have to will yourself through the first couple (or more) weeks of it, but you get to a point where your body doesn't feel sick and tired. At that point, you merely exercise, catch your breath, shower, and go on about your day. Once you do it enough and habitualize it then it's part of life like eating dinner. I enjoy working out. There are a variety of positive health benefits that I'm sure you're already aware of. Right now I look forward to it because it's when I get to loosen up. I abhor stretching for the sake of stretching, lol. Seriously, as much as I work out I haven't been able to reach down and touch my toes for the better part of a decade. Tight hamstrings. Anyway, I carry my stress in my neck and back muscles. Other than the poo I mentioned above there isn't really anything that noticeably bugs me mentally. After a run, a good lift, etc. they're loosened and lubricated. I can then stretch out the stiffness which I really look forward to. Remember to hydrate and get plenty of sleep.

Hey FuturePsychNP! I tried to PM you but can't figure out how to PM, lol. I was wondering - and it would be awesome if you could comment on here or send me a PM - where are you going now that you're done with hospital? Are you starting outpatient work? Congrats on your career move!!

DLS_PMHNP, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in Psychiatry. Has 13 years experience. 1,301 Posts

Hi! You will definitely get used to the "gross factor." I blacked out THREE different times in OR, when I was a student. Heh. Getting in shape is very important. It will give you more energy, help you deal with stress, and help to prep you for the long shifts/clinical rotations. I never thought I would get over the "gross factor." Now I'm a Hospice Nurse, (for the past four years), and I have seen so much, that I don't think anything else will surprise me.. and then it does! A house with a dead cat in the heating duct, animal waste in homes, cockroaches, mouse turds. The worst I saw was a poor man with a large tumor (necrotic) protruding from his neck. Necrotic tumors have a horrid odor; when I would do dressing changes, there were usually gnats flying around the saturated dressing. No joke. I focus on the pt and helping he/she to feel better and have good quality in the time they have remaining. I am able to overlook the not-so-pleasant "stuff" now. All the best to you.... You are going to do GREAT! :)

Diane, RN

calivianya, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU. 2,418 Posts

You'll find you can get used to almost anything. That's been true for me with only ONE exception, and that's the smell of an ileostomy. I've never gotten over that one. I'd rather do anything at all than change an ileostomy bag... I'm okay with colostomy bags most of the time; colostomies just don't have that hot barf and poop in a blender smell that a lot of ileostomies do. It doesn't exactly help when you're watching a patient with a new ileostomy turn green and get nauseated when the smell hits them while you're trying to hold your own lunch down, but I haven't thrown up on anyone yet so I'm calling that a victory! :up:

Seriously, working out does help. I only wish I'd started strength training earlier. It takes a LOT of physical strength to move people around, even with help sometimes. If you've got a bad COPD patient who's obese and can't lie down flat because they can't breathe, even if you've got three people in the room with you helping to slide him/her up it can still be difficult. You will be less likely to injure yourself in these situations if you're strong and flexible. And don't forget to take the time to raise the bed up to where it's comfortable, don't save time by leaving the bed low... it's tempting but it's not worth the strain it will put on your back!

Jennybrie

Jennybrie

144 Posts

This is going to sound so cliche but honestly it's true that the more you experience, the less squeamish you'll get. I used to work at a pool so I knew that poop and vomit doesn't bother me (unless it got on me but that's a different story). First time I saw a wound vac change I about fainted and had to step out of the room. You know when you've seen something you're not ready for when you get really hot, sweaty and light headed...in this event GO SIT DOWN!!! I waited till I started to get tunnel vision before I left the room and almost didn't make it to a chair. This was freshman year clinical and I have seen a lot since. Being hands on makes it easier because you have to focus on what you are doing. Try to gain the most experience as possible. Even if you're intimidated, still volunteer to observe/do hands on skills for anything that your nurse suggests. You are there to learn so take advantage of it and good luck!!