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Those at the 1-2 year mark of nursing

MJB2010 MJB2010 (Guide) Guide Expert Nurse

How long did it take before you felt like you were doing ok? The stress is killing me.

How long before I stop dreading my shifts?

How long before I stop being so afraid and nervous and start to feel competent?

How long before the mean old nurses stop treating you like your not in the club?

I feel stuck where I am the new grad market here is not good. I want to quit but I know I cant.

Faeriewand, ASN, RN

Specializes in med/surg/tele/neuro/rehab/corrections. Has 11 years experience.

One year at least. Fly under the radar until then. :) It does get better.


Specializes in oncology/BMT, general medicine. Has 3 years experience.

I have been a nurse for almost 3 years... I precept other nurses and students... There are some days I feel like I don't know what I'm doing, but as you get more experience they will became few and far between...


Specializes in Med/surg, rural CCU. Has 3 years experience.

I was told if you ever feel like you know it all, you're a dangerous nurse.

That said- about 2.5 yrs in I had an "aha" moment and realized I was no longer terrified and just getting through. I actually felt like I was proactive- and not on the defense... like I could answer the questions of the new grads...and didn't consider myself one of them.

Im 3.5 yrs in now, studying for my certification, goal of being ICU charge soon.


Specializes in Med/Surg. Has 1 years experience.

I'm 11 months in and still feel that way. I hate my job. :(

carolmaccas66, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg, DSU, Ortho, Onc, Psych.

Firstly, some older nurses will never treat you like an equal, even though university (college) nursing has been around for 20 years. Some are hospital trained and that's all they know and like. You can't possibly learn everything in 1-2 years, so don't be too hard on yourself. I do agency work and go to many different wards in different hospitals, & each facility/ward has their own way of doing things. I'm 2 years in, but have worked in hospitals etc for nearly 25 years (as a carer, theatre coordinator, etc). Hospitals are tough places to work in - time management is everything. Do you use a cheat sheet to write down what tasks you need to complete? Do you ask other nurses for help with things you don't know? If I don't know something I always tell them upfront and ask for help. Most nurses are pretty good, some treat you like an idiot. If anyone puts ME down, I always say: 'I've only been a RN for 2 years, I don't know everything but it would be great now if you could teach me some of your expertise'. Yes, flattery gets you everywhere! Can you do any extra courses to gain more knowledge of your area/ward?

I still get nervous and have gastric upsets b4 going to a new ward, it's normal. But if u aren't coping on your shifts, tell the shift coordinator or NM because they may be able to help out and give you some tips. You are not superwoman, no-one is and you shouldn't be expected to struggle on your own. And the more organised you are with time management, you will feel more confident. But if you don't know something, the NM/senior nurse should be guiding you through something new - that is their job after all, to help you. Try also to talk to a counsellor or a senior, trusted nurse re your anxieties, try not to take anything for ur anxiety. Pilates, yoga & gym work on my days off is fantastic for relaxing the mind and the muscles. Do try to see someone and talk to them, that will work wonders :)

The stress is bad at times...it's my back I am most definitely worried about...

What changed between being a newbie and at the 1-2 year mark?

> Pretty much after the 'honeymoon' phase, everyone goes back to their normal selves, and as much as you'd like them people, there is a lot of backstabbing involved, because they do not like you.

>At this point, I feel like I've learned everything that my current job has to offer to me, the only reason why I am hanging on is because I feel like I am not marketable enough yet with only 1-2yr nsg experience...

>I am nervous and afraid still, but I've been getting positive feedback on my ability to stay calm and focused when it gets all crazy...

>I hate it when the older nurses put me in the charge seat just because they are lazy. I am just glad that when I was still on orientation I tried to learn as much as I can about routine things that charge nurses do at night, kinda anticipated that they will throw me into the position without further training...

>Yes I dread going to work every single day. I dread going to work now than when I was new, just because of the 'charge' factor... Plus lately there have been a lot of staffing deficits, and neither my manager nor the dayshift nurses care if there's only 4 staff on the schedule when 6 is required at nighttime.

SummerGarden, ADN, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in ED, ICU, MS/MT, PCU, CM, House Sup, Frontline mgr. Has 13 years experience.

some nurses (experienced or not) are just jerks and will not respect you or notice that you have grown since you first started even if you are there for 3-4 years. they are narrow-minded and so if you made a bad first impression (as all new grads do by just being new), they will not change their minds about you and your nursing. accept this and move on (i know, easier said then done but to keep your sanity, it needs to be done).

if and when you leave you need to be prepared to move on to another environment. at this time not only is the market bad, but so is your attitude about your nursing abilities. however, not all is lost. just because the mean nurses do not think anything of you, does not mean you have to agree. learn to respect yourself and grow your confidence outside of their opinions.

have you noticed that you have improved since being new grad? do you have anything to be proud of related to your nursing? if so, that should be your focus.

also, as the other posters mentioned, spend time improving yourself and your credentials. again, your narrow minded co-workers may not notice, care, or think anything more of you based on new certs, but this will help you in the long run. any new training or certification to pad your resume along with the years of work experience you have obtained will help you to improve your chances of future employment. plus, when you are hired somewhere else, you will be someone else (a confident nurse with experience)! in fact, you may have a better chance of gaining the respect of the more experienced nurses of the dominant group (they are unfortunately everywhere) at a new place then remaining with your current employer. gl!

Edited by SummerGarden


Specializes in CHN, MH & Addictions, Acute Med, Neuro..

Hmm I would be discouraged by all of these posts..

Maybe I am just lucky, but in all of the places I work I find support and enjoy working there. Yes, the shift work can be long and crazy at times; however, you have to extend yourself and be okay with asking for help.

I do get nervous when I am on call and go to work at a place I haven't been for 5 weeks - but I am always happily surprised that I am supported and did my best.

I guess this sounds lame and when you work on a **** ward, it may not help at all. But most people are not comfortable until they reach 2-3 years. Nurses do a ton and are expected to be a knowledgeable about a ridiculous amount of stuff. Its insane.

So maybe the trick is to be comfortable nursing, you have to become insane....

NurseKatie08, MSN

Specializes in Geriatrics, Transplant, Education. Has 13 years experience.

How long did it take before you felt like you were doing ok? The stress is killing me.

How long before I stop dreading my shifts?

How long before I stop being so afraid and nervous and start to feel competent?

How long before the mean old nurses stop treating you like your not in the club?

I feel stuck where I am the new grad market here is not good. I want to quit but I know I cant.

I'm officially a "toddler" (if you will) in the world of nursing, at 2 years & 2 months in at my first nursing job out of school. Around a year, I felt comfortable, stopped dreading my shifts and basically stopped feeling like I was going to puke every day that I went to work.

Luckily, I work on a very supportive unit, and there are no "mean old nurses" in my facility. For that, I'm thankful.

Things will always come up that I don't know, but experience tells you where to find the answers.

I now precept new grads & new hires on my unit and I absolutely love it, just started my MSN in Nursing Education.

Hang in there OP, it'll get better!

I am just not sure I can take a whole year of this. :( I am really trying, I am counting down shifts to the month markers. I appreciate all of your kind words and expertise. I just need to keep on keepin on as long as I can. In the meantime I am applying everywhere hoping to find a more supportive environment for learning. This place is not a good fit.

SummerGarden, ADN, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in ED, ICU, MS/MT, PCU, CM, House Sup, Frontline mgr. Has 13 years experience.

i am just not sure i can take a whole year of this. :( i am really trying, i am counting down shifts to the month markers. i appreciate all of your kind words and expertise. i just need to keep on keepin on as long as i can. in the meantime i am applying everywhere hoping to find a more supportive environment for learning. this place is not a good fit.

well, sadly you are not alone!! i hated my first nursing job and i do not like my second. however, i need my second to move on with my career. like you i have no choice. the only way i found to get better, unfortunately, is to keep showing up to work! on a bright note, there is a way to detoxify your work environment and that is for you to focus on your nursing, as i stated earlier.

for example, one thing that has worked for me is to set clinical goals for my week. i have gotten exponentially better at managing patient care this way. again, taking the focus off of the rude and mean people you work with and planting that focus upon yourself, your patients, and your nursing.

also, here is a forum more suited for you even past a year. i still hang out there... i think i will be there at least until year 3! :D the first year after nursing licensure forum: https://allnurses.com/first-year-after/

Edited by SummerGarden

I'm a year and a half graduated and one year this week into my first job and I'm just now starting to feel kind of okay. I have great coworkers on my unit....I'm lucky. I trust probably over 90 percent of them. It seems like, for the most part, we're all the same age and the ones that are older and been doing it longer are the ones that honestly love the job and like teaching the rest of us. Again, I feel fortunate for this. Usually, the only ones that treat you like you're "not in the club" are the ones from other areas that don't know you.

I've dreaded getting up in the morning the 4th or 5th day in a row, but once I get moving, doing assessments, etc that goes away. I have honestly yet to dread the work which reinforces my decision to this.

Do I feel competent? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. I still ask lots of questions and get aggravated with myself when I miss things that I ought to know. We're so busy I can't think straight sometimes and that bothers me. We've recently started doing something on our unit that makes me feel more like a hospital secretary buried in paper work than an RN. I believe it's something that compromises safety but what do I know, I haven't been around that long.

When do I really feel incompetent? During codes when the ICU nurses come over.

But overall my life as a nurse is better than it was a year ago.

gettingbsn2msn, MSN, RN

Specializes in medical surgical. Has 5 years experience.

I am 2 years in but the first year I worked alot of overtime and it really helped me. I worked alot of different shifts and with many differing personalities. I did ok and felt I survived. I have a good bedside manner so that is my saving grace. I always feel like I am behind and want to throw up when a new admission arrives to the floor. I am grossly underpaid for this job. I have not had a raise since I began and will probably never see one at this facility since we are going on 3 years of a freeze. I make 18/hour, 19.50 for weekend diffs. I am getting my MSN to have more opportunities at other facilities but then I will owe more $$ for education.

gettingbsn2msn, MSN, RN

Specializes in medical surgical. Has 5 years experience.

And one more thing, I do not make anywhere near the average for a RN. Last year I made 48,000 and that was with tons of overtime. I cannot do it this year as I started my MSN in the spring. Nurses here are poor and I find that sad. My brother works for the state and he makes tons more than I do with no additional degrees (but then again, he may get laid off!)

I am also at the 1.5 yr mark. There are still moments of panic and dread, but these are mixed with moments of pride. For example, I just had to re-cert for CPR, and while we were practicing compressions on a dummy the thought popped into my head, "I have done compressions during a code! On a real live person!" Realizing that made me feel so much more at ease while practicing on a dummy, that's for sure.

Then there was a time the oncoming shift needed an ABG on a pt with an A-line, and I was the only available nurse in our stepdown unit who knew how to get it (or else the only one brave enough to attempt it with a crowd of residents and family looking on.) We only occasionally see A-lines on our unit. I got the ABG, zeroed the transducer again, and handed it off to the primary nurse. Whew! And no blood spraying anyone in the face!!

Then there was the time I was floated to a med-surg floor with lower acuity, and I was given their most difficult patient - a trach, C-collar, jaws wired, who had been vomiting while being supine down in the MRI suite. This was a near disaster for all involved, but I was able to handle it OK and the patient recovered fine with a little O2 and suctioning. The other nurses on the lower acuity unit I had been floated to looked at me with a little more respect than I had been accustomed to, and one of them remarked that it was lucky for the patient that I had come from the ICU stepdown unit to their floor that night!

And probably one of the most satisfying aspects of having a little experience under my belt is being able to conference with the residents about our difficult patients, and kind of "getting it" when the lab results show rhabdo, or a troponin leak, or central diabetes insipidus.

None of this is meant to be "blowing my own horn" - well, maybe just a little! But these are all things that experienced nurses know, and take for granted to same degree - and these are the things newbies generally don't know, and why experienced nurses (who have forgotten what it means to be inexperienced) may roll their eyes a bit at the inevitable questions a newbie will ask.

Someone once said that half the game is just "showing up" - putting in your time. This doesn't mean that the adrenalin stops flowing when you think about your upcoming shift, or that knot in your stomach completely disappears. It just means you kept yourself in the game, even when it looked like you were losing. Because you are not losing, you are becoming a REAL NURSE!

LouisVRN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg.

I am now at 2 years and 2 months. I can honestly say I really enjoy it, most of the time. Sometimes I think I'm going crazy but I look forward to going to work. I work on a very busy med-surg/ortho unit. As soon as I accepted I'm never going to know everything there will always be things are totally out of the ordinary and out of my comfort zone I was okay. I think I probably felt competent after 4-6 months. Now I am told that I am a resource for my unit. I am hoping to be charge if a position opens up. Have you ever considered that maybe the area you're working in just may not be for you? I oriented a friend once who just did not like having 5 patients in med-surg, time management was always a problem but they left for stepdown and are now enjoying work and flourishing.

I may be in the minority but it took about 6 months for me to be comfortable in my job, 1 year to be confident, and 1.5 years to be bored. I rarely feel like I am learning anything new and I yearn to be excited and challenged again with my job. I think the transition into becoming comfortable happens at different times for everyone. The only way to work through it is to go through it. :)