Hi everyone, I’m hoping to utilize this forum as a safe space to express my doubts and anxiety as a new nurse on a Med-Surg floor. Any advice, words of encouragement, tough love, ...anything, I welcome it all! I’m blessed to have a great support system otherwise but I’m really eager to hear input from unbiased, like-minded strangers online
I graduated Aug 2018 with my BSN-RN. Worked as an HHA during nursing school. My first RN job was in Nursing Informatics, basically helped a hospital organization transition from paper charting to EHR. I worked there for about 6 months. I missed the clinical aspects of nursing and so I worked for a plasma donation clinic for about 4 months and the job itself was very menial and easy, but management was extremely unprofessional and it did not meet the work-life balance that I wanted.
I challenged myself to go into bedside nursing, especially since I went back for my MSN and I know that I need experience in acute care. In nursing school, as much as I loved acute care, my heart flourished in Public Health. However, I felt such immense pressure to get experience in a hospital setting and I battled with the SoCal nursing market for about 2 months this summer until I finally got hired with the help of my school’s career fair.
I am now four weeks into my 8 week orientation on a Med-Surg floor. The day before an upcoming shift, I have anxiety attacks throughout the day. I isolate myself, watching the clock and counting down the hours that I have to clock in for work the next day. I get nothing done, I’m paralyzed by my anxiety, and it’s starting to affect my health. My blood pressure shot up to the high 130’s SBP, I’m starting to have rapid weight gain from poor coping strategies, and my overall demeanor and appearance is reflective of the cognitive dissonance that’s happening in my mind.
When I’m at work, I have a work flow sheet that maps the hours during my shift as a checklist, a brain for each patient, and an amazing preceptor who is firm, organized, and the kind of nurse that I want to be one day. I have a workflow schedule to keep me on track for the day. I’m never short of resources (access to people, policies, etc.). At work, I’m able to compose myself well enough but it’s starting to take a toll on my mental and physical health at the end of the day.
I had my first shift with 4 patients this week and I felt like everyone needed something from me every second of every minute of that 12 hour shift. Between the doctors, my patients, my bladder, the call alarms, my CNA’s, my preceptor...my mind is constantly racing as fast my poor heart. I’m terrified of hurting someone, I’m terrified of jeopardizing my license, and I’m terrified of disappointing myself, my preceptor, my educator, and my director.
I feel incredibly overwhelmed and I’m starting to doubt my capabilities as a nurse. Maybe my strength as a nurse lies in another field of nursing? Yet, there are many people, including my educator, who constantly reminds to stop being so hard on myself—to be patient with myself. But I don’t know, am I being too overzealous with the expectations that I set up for myself or am I actually incompetent and I should be performing at a higher standard than what I’m doing?
I feel like I’m too slow for this unit. I’m always playing catch up with my charting, I feel like I don’t even really know my patients because I’m so limited in time and attention due being such a task-oriented unit. I need to take my time because I want to be safe, I want to open my eMAR in the med room even if I just checked their chart outside, I want to carefully set up their IV pump because I just want to be sure it’s set up properly, but it’s just go-go-go on that unit and my preceptor makes sure that I operate with the idea that I’m on rollerskates and that at anytime, my patients can quickly deteriorate.
I find myself looking at job opportunities in public health and clinic positions, and I feel so guilty because I remember how badly I sought out this position when I was unemployed. People are also saying that night shift is different, “less resources; but half the work and double the pay.” In all honestly, I want to serve marginalized communities...families with limited resources, to educate, to screen, to prevent disease and illness, to do health fairs, to study diseases and how to mitigate/treat, to develop policies, to give medical aid to people who are limited in access and courage to seek medical aid.
I’m just so full of doubt and guilt. The anxiety is wearing me out. I don’t know if this is where I’m supposed to be. I don’t want anyone to get hurt because of my incompetence. Things are moving too fast. I feel like if I express these feelings, that I’m not cut out for bedside, at my next evaluation, that I’ll be less of a nurse in their eyes, and in mine.
I come to work 20 minutes early to check my charts, I feel like I’m trying new avenues to be a better nurse each shift and I just end up feeling defeated regardless.
This is so long, I don’t know where I was going with it. But thanks for reading this if you made it this far. My last two weeks of preceptorship will be nights...I’m hoping it gets better. I’m terrified of getting a full patient load next week.
Please send help.