To everyone answering this post, I value the experiences and opinions you shared to newbies like us. Just like NewDude, I have only been an RN for about 7 months. I went straight from school to Medical/Surgical ICU where we take care of fresh CABG patients. The acuity of such patients are very high that nurse:patient ration can be 2:1 at times. Very stressful and can be frustrating if patient is going down on your shift despite all the nursing interventions you are implementing.
Despite the pressure, tension and gravity of the work, I still somehow manage to survive the shift (in the same way that NewDude is able to get through his shift). I believe I can take all the pressures because I chose to be in this type of unit. I elected to be in ICU. I understand that in order for me to learn, I have to get exposed to difficult cases (cases of higher acuity). I feel all the tension and anxiety but knowing that I have a supportive environment, and with the reassurances from my colleagues and Doctors that I am doing the right thing -- I am slowly building the confidence and trust that, ok -- I wasn't that bad after all. In fact, just like most of you mentioned -- my charge nurse saw me as calm, confident, and very capable despite the very limited experience I possess.
As a new grad, I dread the idea of a full code patient dying on me. But my preceptor once said, sooner or later -- that's gonna happen. When faced with that situation, the only way to protect yourself is to follow the hospital guidelines and protocols and always work within those guidelines. Sometimes, despite the wonders of medicine and even with quick interventions, it is just impossible to save a patient. If this happens, my preceptor told me to just remember that I did all I could and that it is not my fault...
Those words somehow provided me with a sense of peace and calmness. She is right. When I come to work, that situation might just happen to me -- but now I know what I needed to do...and I know my colleague are gonna be there for me too.
I still have that sense of anxiety -- but just enough to keep my guards up all the time. It is good to have a certain amount of anxiety -- I think all conscientious RNs will always have this. It keeps us alert and more keen with our observations and assessments. We share the same type of personality -- wanting to give out the best care to our patients at the expense of our breaks, our backs, and our kidneys...that's how dedicated we are to our profession and to our patients.
So now when I go to work, I pray to have the presence of mind all the time. I prep myself that even if I get a patient whose acuity is high -- I will do everything to manage his/her care to the best of my abilities. That's all we can do. Even if you go to Med-Surg, OR, ER, Tele or ICU -- chances are, you may have to carry with you this form of anxiety. No one can guarantee you that on that day -- a patient is not gonna code on you whichever unit you may be.
Good luck to you and give yourself some more time...That's what I tell myself, because it is true. We need more training and exposure and that's how we will become confident with what we do....