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Still Uncomfortable


Specializes in ICU. Has 5 years experience.

Hi everyone. I have been an ICU nurse for a year and a half now. Prior to that I have 2 years med/surg experience. I am questioning whether I should stay in ICU or hang up my hat and find another area of nursing.

I had a patient code last week. The patient's prognosis was very poor (severe anoxic brain injury s/p cardiac arrest). The patient started going bad and I anticipated that we would have to code her, and of course I did everything I could to try and keep her stable, but the inevitable happened and I had to call a code.

I froze for a second when the RT asked me to help bag. (Hadn't done that before, but big deal, right?) I felt overwhelmed. This was only my second patient to code, but I try to help out when I can with others. I just can't seem to find my place and I feel totally inadequate.

Why do I still feel so nervous and anxious after being in ICU for more than a year? What is wrong with me? Shouldn't I have a little more confidence by now? I'm afraid that I am letting my coworkers down. What would you do?

eatmysoxRN, ASN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg,Cardiac. Has 1 years experience.

Have you been jumping in on everything you can? Your ICU would be abnormal in my opinion if you have only been in 2 codes in a year and a half. Ask questions still. If you have time ask other nurses to show you procedures you don't routinely do. Participate in every code you can. Practice is the best thing I'd think. Unless you are truly unhappy I wouldn't give up yet.

Julius Seizure

Specializes in Pediatric Critical Care.

I'm surprised that you have worked in an ICU for that long and never bagged a patient. I agree with the other reply.....if you want to be more comfortable, go out of your way to do the scary stuff. But if its not for you, then it's not for you. Maybe you honestly would be happier elsewhere? Nothing wrong with that.


Specializes in Dialysis, ICU, PCU. Has 6 years experience.

I've been an ICU nurse going on 4 yrs now and have yet to participate in a code (Just the luck of the draw I suppose. Good or bad, idk). Anyway, I feel the same as the OP. I have no advice, only an "I feel ya, sister"

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Specializes in ICU.

Nah, you'll get it. Hang in there if you still enjoy it. If you REALLY want to be bagging patients all the time and running codes ... then look for a level 1 trauma hospital. (where's the smiley faces?) You'll get your crack at it all, it's just a matter of numbers. The more patients that roll through the door, the more chances you'll get to do each procedure.

Clear Morning

Specializes in ICU. Has 5 years experience.

Well, it's been a while, but I stuck it out. I have to say I have learned so much and continue to do so. I guess it just took a while to start feeling confident, but I can honestly say I have come a long way since this post. Actually, I barely remember the incident I outlined. I love ICU, and this is where I plan to stay for a long time! Thank you all for the advice and support!


Specializes in Quality, Cardiac Stepdown, MICU. Has 5 years experience.

Thanks for the update, great to hear a success story! :yes:

Definitely thanks for the update. I'm loving icu and just about to come off of Orientation but im scared to death. Hopefully in a year I'll be able to look back and feel confident.