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Was told to consider not being a nurse?

rainbow09 rainbow09 (New) New

I'm a nursing student in my first semester and I'm at a LTC facility for clinical. About two weeks ago I was following a nurse by myself and I offered to help her as much as I possibly could. Later that day she let me do accuchecks and one patient needed insulin. We were told that we would have to be checked off by our instructor first and then we could give insulin with a nurse observing. This was my second time giving insulin. What happened was that I accidentally pricked myself with the needle when I was getting ready to inject it while I pinched the skin with my other hand. Before, I gave insulin in the back of the arm and I was told not to pinch the skin but this time I was giving it in the abdomen. I froze when it happened - I honestly didn't know what to do in that moment because I was so in shock. The nurse must not have been observant because she urged me to give it when I hesitated and in that moment I did. To only freak out right after. I immediately told the nurse what happened but I had already given it and I felt so stupid and was so mad at myself. Then my finger started bleeding a bit too which it didn't before right when I must have pricked it. I was devastated but the nurse told me to not tell anyone because she didn't want to file an incident report and she said the patient would be just fine. I immediately told my clinical instructor what happened and she was very sweet and said mistakes happen and we're just human but that she would have to tell my nursing instructor too (of my first semester of nursing school).

My instructor asked me what happened a few days later and I explained everything and told her that I was really sorry and felt incredibly stupid. She was extremely disappointed and said that they teach us to think critically for a reason and if I'm not confident and able enough to make decisions for myself and think critically then I should consider dropping out of nursing school. I have cried so many times after this happened and I really do feel incredibly stupid because it's common sense and I shouldn't have panicked and still given the injection but I never found myself in a situation like this before. I really thought my patient would die but he will be just fine. After what my instructor said to me though and the tone in which she said it makes me believe that I will never be a good nurse and now I'm at a point where I am doubting myself even more. I don't know what to do because I really want to help people but I don't want to endanger their lives.


Specializes in Med/Surg, LTACH, LTC, Home Health.

First off, I will not make light of the situation. Once you pricked yourself, the insulin syringe should have been discarded....end of story. Then you should have washed your hands, put a bandaid on it, and then returned to treat the patient. The incident report could have waited until afterwards, but it definitely should have been done. You not only injured yourself, but at that point, you used a contaminated syringe on a patient. I know you do feel "stupid"...your word, not mine.

Now, as a student, I would expect you to panic somewhat with your first needlestick. But if your instructor said exactly what you said she did, then it's your choice as to whether or not you drop out of the program. I'd suggest that you do not!

Students do not become nurses by making mistakes and quitting. If they did, we really would have a nursing shortage. I'm not going to tell you not to cry or feel bad about the incident because injuries should always be taken seriously. But when you're done crying, treat the hangover headache, gather yourself, and go back to class with this well-learned lesson.

Finally, the nurse that instructed you to keep quiet about it SHOULD HAVE HER A** FIRED!!!! She does not know your medical history. Accidentally sharing a needle poses the same threat as the deliberate practice.

Edited by BSNbeDONE
Removed wording and added a couple

Can this be a pivotal moment where you beat a path to becoming strong and decisive under pressure?

Without knowing your age or usual nature, it's impossible to know how this incident will affect your movement forward. If it shook you just enough to shore up your ability to make the right decisions despite feeling anxious but not enough to shatter your confidence, this can be your last error in judgement of this type. It can make you better but it will take fortitude to bust past the doubt.

Edited by Libby1987

Davey Do

Specializes in Psych, CD, HH, Admin, LTC, OR, ER, Med Surge.

What BSNbeDONE said. And Libby.

We've all freaked out and made errors and then made bad decisions in order to deal with the error.

Or least, I have. Thank goodness I gave myself a second chance. And a third. And so on.

Dust yourself off and keep on keeping on, rainbow.

It's like a mechanic I was learning from once told me: "Everything's difficult before it becomes easy".

Also, for what it's worth, I made a serious error in my residency program. It was an error from not being diligent in referring to P&P. I also had maturity problems initially and received a suggestion that nursing, at least in the acute setting, was not a good fit for me.

I was beyond devastated. I was a good but otherwise immature 22 yr old. Being a maturity issue versus an embedded personality one, I was able to turn it around after what I call a come to Jesus moment and became disciplined in my practice.

Davey Do

Specializes in Psych, CD, HH, Admin, LTC, OR, ER, Med Surge.

I was able to turn it around after what I call a come to Jesus moment and became disciplined in my practice.

No disrespect intended, for I hold the tenets of Christianity in the highest of regards.

A 70 year old nurse I work with sometimes has what she calls "a come to Jesus meeting" with some unruly psych patients.

I take it to mean that she does an intervention in reality orientation and shows the individual the truth.

No disrespect intended, for I hold the tenets of Christianity in the highest of regards.

A 70 year old nurse I work with sometimes has what she calls "a come to Jesus meeting" with some unruly psych patients.

I take it to mean that she does an intervention in reality orientation and shows the individual the truth.

I'm sorry if the phrase is offensive, my Christian coworkers have used it and I thought it's intended meaning was understood and accepted. For me it meant a tremendous enlightenment.

If you delete it from your quoted portion, I will be happy to delete it from my post.

I don't think that making one mistake is cause to just drop out of nursing school. You made a mistake, mistakes happen. Take responsibility for your actions and always do the right thing. Stop and think about what you are doing. Maybe try reflecting on the situation openly, and decide if nursing is for you but do not let one small thing stop you from having a great career. In my first year of nursing school, a had the director of the program tell me "that maybe nursing wasn't for me" because I was doing poorly in a class. Today, I am a Registered Nurse! Use it to motivate yourself to improve and work on critical thinking! I hope everything works out for you!



I understand your panic. Most students are so very nervous about injections at first, and then to add a needlestick injury to it. Its still a pretty bad mistake but just about any new nurse would have been flustered enough to make it. That's why the nurse should have been watching you closely during the whole procedure.

I would encourage you to stick with it and use the experience to find your voice. Speaking up after errors... speaking up for safety... can be difficult in the moment but does not compare to the feeling of not speaking up. Now you know.

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.

Nearly 12 years ago I was told by an instructor that, "Maybe nursing isn't for you."

Do you think his words had enough sway over me to abandon my career aspirations? Nope. I ruminated over his statement for a day or two before placing it at the curbside for garbage collection.

If you said to your instructor, "You shouldn't be a nursing instructor," how do you think she would react? Would she cry? Would she be devastated by your opinion? Probably not. My point is that you should not allow yourself to become dispirited by the opinions of people who will not be losing any sleep over you.

Last of all, never stick a patient with a contaminated sharp. Good luck to you!

MrNurse(x2), ADN

Specializes in IMC, school nursing.

In light of how young people across this country are responding to adversity, I need you to hear this loud and clear. Mistakes happen, you made a wrong decision and you spoke up. Assuming you are under 30, you have integrity that few that age possess. All learning involves mistakes, your instructor is there to make sure you understand the mistake and what can be done to make sure it doesn't happen again. Her comment was a challenge to you to follow through with what you knew to be the right thing to do. Lots of nursing is done without supervision and the only thing protecting your patient is your integrity, case in point, the LTC nurse who ignored the incident.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

I was advised to switch majors during the first month or so of my junior year (1st year of actual nursing classes) -- many years ago. The instructor who gave me that advice made my life a living H*** for my whole junior year. A few years later, after her physician-husband finished his fellowship, she retired to be a stay-at-home mom. I'm the one who has been a nurse for almost 40 years.

It's time for you to decide what you really want to do with your life ... and if it's nursing, you'll need to strengthen your backbone (resolve) and get on with in. Learn from this and move forward.

I was told that maybe I shouldn't become a nurse when I drew up insulin for the first time, and the needle bent as I was drawing it up. That instructor was terrible. My hands were shaking, and I was just stressed out from my mother's funeral the day before.

Since then I've heard of some best nurses being told the same.

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching.

I've been told I shouldn't be a nurse, and here I am, 40 years later, still nursing. You made a mistake, then you panicked and made another mistake. But despite being advised by an experienced nurse to cover it up, you came forward and did the right thing. We need MORE nurses who will come forward and do the right thing and FEWER nurses who would cover things up.

Hopefully this will be your defining moment, where you realize that you DO have what it takes to be a nurse, and that honor and integrity are a big part of that. You had the confidence to do the RIGHT thing. That counts so much more than the impulse to cover things up.

Davey Do

Specializes in Psych, CD, HH, Admin, LTC, OR, ER, Med Surge.

If you delete it from your quoted portion, I will be happy to delete it from my post.

Not at all, Libby.

I just didn't want my "come to Jesus meeting" to sound disrespectful.

Not at all, Libby.

I just didn't want my "come to Jesus meeting" to sound disrespectful.

I use that term frequently, I'm a Christian. It's just an expression meaning, someone in authority is going to finally have a meeting discussing with the person their bad behavior or deficiencies.


Specializes in LTC, Rehab.

You are not the first or only nurse (ok, you're still a student) who's accidentally stuck themselves with a needle. Do what I do whenever I make ANY type of mistake - needle, med, whatever - think about how and why it happened, and change what you do to keep it from happening again.

I, too, had been told that maybe I wouldnt cut it as a nurse... coincidentally, this was also in my very first semester and at an LTC, but it happened to be my clinical instructor who said it. As a student brand new to the art of nursing, its quite common to feel super nervous... as you feel the weight of all that newly crammed in knowledge suddenly on display - and under what seems like observation through a microscope.

Like you, I was also really nervous... in fact, I was so critical of everything I did that a snail could have carried out my duties faster than I did. And the instructor had no qualms about telling me that I was not cut out for the job for that reason. Fast forward to now, where I've been practicing on a busy med-surg floor for over a year... and its going wonderful!

There will be people who choose to maximize your mistakes or flaws along the way... but never let anyone tell you what you can or cannot be. Mistakes will happen. What is most important is that you learn from them. I can tell you that, to this day, every mistake I was "talked to" about in nursing school is a mistake that I never ever made again... maybe because of how traumatic each "scolding" seemed at the time. We are human and therefore not perfect (though sometimes perfection sure feels like the expectation during nursing school). It will get easier and you will get better with each passing day. Keep your head up and best wishes!

Edited by ladedah1

I ALMOST gave a wrong antibiotic to a wrong patient in NS. I felt so sick I thought I would faint. Told my instructor. It did NOT get given; it was an "almost" caught by the primary nursing watching me. Thank goodness she was there.

This instructor did her level best to get me tossed out. Fortunately the director did not agree. And so, nearly 20 years later, I am a nurse. I never forgot that near-miss and learned from it.

I am concerned about the dirty needle; protocols exist we must follow. And I share the others' feelings that the nurse who wanted to keep quiet about it, is WRONG.

Learn from this; grow. You will get past it.

Hang in there.

Buyer beware, BSN

Specializes in GENERAL.

OP: not to cause a coup d'etat but:

This nursing instructor sounds long on critical thinking concerning you and short on positive encouragement.

I'm not sure I can legitimately weigh-in on your problem with your clinical instuctor but all too often there's at least one insrtuctor that shouldn't be instructing anyone.

Her punitive appraoch to clinical critique is more akin to the medical model than the knider and gentler nursing approach. (so they say)

My instincts tell me she should have been a veterinary nurse but people can be cowed and dogs and cats bite.


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