What is Normal for New Nurse


Hello! I am new to this website, but decided to join after reading others' encouraging posts to new nurses on here. I just graduated from nursing school in May and I was so excited to get started. I loved labor and delivery in school and felt so comfortable there in school, so I was excited to accept a position as a labor and delivery nurse at a very small hospital.

I thought it would be a good opportunity because the nurse also has to work in other areas because it is a small hospital and I thought I would get a lot of exposure. I have now been working there for 2 months. The first month I was nervous, but not too bad. On my days off I didn't worry about work and I was excited for labors. In the second month something snapped in me and I have become consumed with anxiety almost continuously. On my days off ALL that I can think of is every single thing that could go wrong and whether or not I would know what to do.

Most of the time the answer is no. As much as I try to occupy my thoughts and my time nothing seems to work and I end up feeling defeated and unmotivated to do anything. My husband has been very supportive and encouraging but is worried about me and thinks I am starting to become depressed.

I haven't been able to sleep very well because again, I can't stop thinking of what could go wrong. At this point there aren't really any nurses I work with that I feel I can confide in. Most of the time I feel that they are frustrated with me because I do have a lot of questions. It's like they expect me to know what to do already, which scares me that I will be put off of orientation before I'm ready. Mostly, I am so afraid I am going to freeze when something does go wrong.

I almost wish I would've chosen a larger hospital so that there would be other people I could turn to when I am by myself. Because this hospital is so small there is only one OB nurse on the floor at a time and that's very scary for me for when I'm off orientation. It is very frustrating because I used to love labor and delivery, and now I am completely terrified of it and wishing I would've just went to work at a doctor's office or something (I definitely don't mean that negatively, it just seems more laid back :)).

My anxiety is almost unbearable on my days off to the point that I cry randomly throughout my day. I know that it's normal to have anxiety, but is it normal to this degree? I also would welcome any advice on how to discuss this with my co workers or boss. I am afraid if I tell her what I've been feeling she will find me inadequate to do the job or weak.

She is the kind of person that comes off in a way that she expects people to toughen up in hard situations. I know everyone tells me you have to have tough skin to be a nurse, and I'm working on it, but I am naturally a sensitive person. I'm trying to be patient with myself.

I truly want to be a great nurse and a wise nurse, but right now I don't know how to overcome my fears so that I can become that nurse. Sorry for how long this was, just needing to vent to people that can probably understand better than most! Thanks in advance!

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

226 Articles; 27,608 Posts

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 17 years experience.
My anxiety is almost unbearable on my days off to the point that I cry randomly throughout my day.

If your anxiety is so severe that it hinders your ability to function in life, my suggestion is to seek professional help. If your workplace offers an employee assistance program (EAP) as part of the benefits package, I advise you to use it. Good luck to you.


389 Posts

Specializes in L&D. Has 3 years experience.

I have 3 years of L&D experience but I would still be terrified being the only OB nurse on the floor.

I'm anxious just being the only nurse in the room during a delivery.

Back-up is essential in L&D.

No wonder you're anxious.

It might be worth applying to bigger hospitals in L&D and if they ask why you're leaving so soon explain the situation and how you think you'd be more comfortable on a larger unit with more nurses around.

And yes - I was anxious for months as a new grad on L&D. It's an intense unit and a lot can go wrong!

Has 33 years experience.

I agree with both the above posts, having one nurse on an OB unit, no matter how small it is, is scarey!! And, especially if you are crying it is time for some professional help. Crying is therapeutic, but for you to reach that stage, things have been building up inside. Being a new nurse is hard, and adjusting to what is expected of you and what is reality are really two different things. Yes, we do have to have hard skin, but not insensitive skin. Any area of nursing can be intense at any given time. I think you should ask for your orientation time to be extended, that is not a negative thing. If they ask you why, just tell them you have not seen/performed in an intense situation etc. Is there an orientation packet where you are being checked off on the types of skills you are expected to know. This is something that is tangible and you can use as a reference. If you have not had any "traumatic" birth experiences yet then I suggest you stay on orientation until you do. You will be expected to perform at the RN level once you are off orientation, be prepared and the only way to be prepared is to actually participate in some type of training that will prepare you. Is there PALS training? (I assume this covers newborns as well as pediatrics?) Would you have to fly a patient, mother or baby to a higher level birthing center if problems were occurring?? Find out what the steps would be if a mother was getting into trouble during the birthing process!!! Good luck, you will pull through it!!


113 Posts

Specializes in Rehabilitation,Critical Care. Has 1 years experience.

Hello there! I just registered for an account but has been a lurker of this website. I too am a nurse for 2 months now and graduated in May. I work at a small rehab facility with 60 beds and had only 2 weeks of training as a new RN. I also feel anxious at the beginning, during, and ending of shifts. I also ask too many questions to my charge nurse and sometimes, she tells me that I have hit my limit for asking her questions during the day, this offends me so much. Anyway, all I'm saying is, this is NORMAL for new nurses cause I am also experiencing the same thing as of the moment. I heard it takes one year to become a competent nurse so I am accepting the FACT that I am a new nurse that I will make mistakes and I just have to learn from it and let it go. Do something fun during your days off like SHOPPING or watching movies. Something to take you off of nursing. Cheers!


940 Posts

Nursing school was stressful. Studying for and taking the NCLEX was stressfull. What many nursing students (including myself, before) might not think a lot about is that the first job will be very stressful as you apply what you've learned during the course of your education ---AND plenty of new information! It's challenging, but I think the fact that you are willing to review and critique your own performance will only help you improve. A certain level of anxiety is fine, but as already mentioned, you might seek professional help to get your anxiety to a more manageable level.


237 Posts

Specializes in EDUCATION;HOMECARE;MATERNAL-CHILD; PSYCH. Has 25 years experience.
If your anxiety is so severe that it hinders your ability to function in life, my suggestion is to seek professional help. If your workplace offers an employee assistance program (EAP) as part of the benefits package, I advise you to use it. Good luck to you.

I agree with TheCommuter.

It does not seem that this work situation is conducive for a new graduate. As an experienced OB nurse, I will NEVER agree to be the only OB nurse on the unit at any time. If the situation is making you anxious, it is because you are listening to your intuition. Anything that is causing you that amount of anxiety is not worth it.

My suggestion is to get clarification about what will happen after orientation, and what type of system resources that will be available to you. If you are not getting clear answers, please consider transferring to another unit or resigning. You do not want to lose your license and your sanity.

Good Luck!!

CrunchRN, ADN, RN

4,475 Posts

Specializes in Clinical Research, Outpt Women's Health. Has 25 years experience.

You are absolutely right to be anxious. That OB situation for a newbie is terrible. Talk to your manager about options for back-up and also for someone to oversee the care you are giving in L&D. If not available then I would tell them I will not do it.

Also, check the AWOHN? standards. I am sure there must be something in there about a minimum competency for L&D nurses.......... it is always good to come to a meeting with objective materials that show that you have a valid point.


3 Posts

I agree with the above. The hospital I work at (and delivered at) is big on everyone feeling comfortable and competent before going off of orientation. I had my daughter at exactly 7pm and the new nurse off orientation was coming on to take care of me - the nurse manager was in there with her and the nurse from the day shift stayed to help out. I also had the whole NICU team in there too (IUGR babe, placental abruption during labor). And I have no idea how it would have gone without all those extra hands ! Maybe you should bring up your concerns? No one wants to feel unsafe. Especially on a L&D floor. So much can happen! I worked at a very small hospital before this (I think they had 2-3 L&D rooms?). I have NO idea how they did it there. I worked med-surg and I remember they asked if I could float over there until the nurse came in, I thought I was going to lose my marbles. Thankfully, the nurse manager and DON came over to help me out (nothing chaotic happened thank goodness). I would really bring up your concerns - no shame in that. And stay on orientation longer (which they should allow), if you don't feel comfortable yet!

Jolly Molly, you have described my situation to the letter. New nurse, small hospital. I will be following this post!!!

Good skills + responsibility and sensitivity in working with colleagues.


330 Posts

Specializes in Stepdown . Telemetry. Has 10 years experience.

I have been there with the anxiety about my shifts on my days off. One thing I still do, 2 years in, is I actively take the nervous energy, and refocus it on how to be better prepared.

Hit the books. Pinpoint the specific things you find yourself worrying about. Even just making a list of the skills I want to improve helps.

I dont have much to say about L&D, but for me it would be things like, digging deeper into the patho of pneumothorax, or reviewing meds that scared me, etc...

There is ALWAYS something I can pinpoint that I could know more about...

Maybe for you its what to do when an emergency happens in the delivery room...IDK...but get exploring...take your fears and turn them into energized info gathering...

I swear it makes a difference at work, when you get to apply the one knew topic you learned...and you feel excited instead of dread...