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When does it get better??

NICU   (4,074 Views 9 Comments)
by elliern88 elliern88 (New Member) New Member

1,250 Visitors; 7 Posts

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Hi all, I have been off orientation about 8 or so months now. At first I felt like I was doing great, handling my assignments well. I never forget meds, always take good care of the babies, make sure they are clean and comfortable in their beds, etc. But now I am at a point where I have to start taking the sickest of the sick babies on the unit. I get so stressed before my shift wondering if I am going to have a super sick post op, or a cardiac baby.

I get nervous when I think of having a really unstable baby with lots of drips, on a oscillator with iNO, etc. Or god forbid...ECMO!

I have never made a mistake, and have been fully trained to all of these things, so its not as if my unit is just throwing me to the wolves. Also, I know full well I will have lots of help when the time comes. I am just scared thinking about making a mistake, or appearing so flustered that people think I can't handle the sick kids.

Are these normal thoughts?? Has anyone else been there?? How did you deal with the stress and how can i maintain a look of composure when I am really terrified on the inside? How long did it take you to feel a level of comfort with whatever assignment you were given??

Thanks in advance...:unsure:

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RxOnly has 4 years experience and works as a Ambulatory Care Nurse.

6,313 Visitors; 136 Posts

Everyone is different, but it seems like I always hear "Give it a good year to really get comfortable..."

I may not be much help, but from reading your post I get the sense that you are a bright, diligent, conscientious person and that you are getting these tough assignments because your unit knows you can handle it :) Keep up the good work!

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llg has 40 years experience as a PhD, RN and works as a Nursing Professional Development + Academic Facult.

5 Followers; 57,682 Visitors; 12,992 Posts

I have guided many new grads in NICU over the years. I remember one in particular who had gone about 9 months without ever having to take a new admission. She was terrified of it -- until she actually did one. Then she was fine.

You will feel better when you have taken care of a few really sick babies and have had a few really bad shifts. Until you do -- and learn that you can survive them -- you will be scared of them.

My recommendation is to seek out those experiences that frighten you, preferably on days when staffing is adequate to give you a little extra support. Volunteer to help the nurses who are taking care of those babies. Talk to your unit educator (or whoever) and let the know that you are ready to progress, but a bit scared of it, and want to do it in a controlled kind of way.

The longer you put it off, the more intimidated by it you will become.

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AnonRNC works as a Registered Nurse.

7,228 Visitors; 297 Posts

If you're not a litte scared, I'm worried. Critical babies are just that: critical and the margin for error is narrow. You sound smart & concientious; you've been trained & you know help is available. I think the more you care for these babies the more comfortable you will feel. If you give it another six months, and find that you still are not comfortable with the sickest babies, you might considering getting a job at a facility that separates their Level II and III babies - and work on the "step-down" unit (the Level II, gainer/grower types).

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walkingrock has 40 years experience as a ADN and works as a staff RN NICU.

5,090 Visitors; 171 Posts

Hi all, I have been off orientation about 8 or so months now. At first I felt like I was doing great, handling my assignments well. I never forget meds, always take good care of the babies, make sure they are clean and comfortable in their beds, etc. But now I am at a point where I have to start taking the sickest of the sick babies on the unit. I get so stressed before my shift wondering if I am going to have a super sick post op, or a cardiac baby.

I get nervous when I think of having a really unstable baby with lots of drips, on a oscillator with iNO, etc. Or god forbid...ECMO!

I have never made a mistake, and have been fully trained to all of these things, so its not as if my unit is just throwing me to the wolves. Also, I know full well I will have lots of help when the time comes. I am just scared thinking about making a mistake, or appearing so flustered that people think I can't handle the sick kids.

Are these normal thoughts?? Has anyone else been there?? How did you deal with the stress and how can i maintain a look of composure when I am really terrified on the inside? How long did it take you to feel a level of comfort with whatever assignment you were given??

Thanks in advance...:unsure:

The first year is particularly grueling. I remember, I used to have to go home and look things up on a regular basis, to try to keep up with the over-whelming knowledge base to learn. I can remember waking up hours early, unable to go back to sleep, worrying about what my day will bring, and having nightmares about work. I have learned over the years, it doesn't help to worry in anticipation of something that may not happen, or something that's done, as you can't do anything about it except review and learn, and improve the next time. I've been doing this for 33 years, and I still have to take myself to task, and calm down, breathe, and start methodically plodding at what needs to be done, when taking care of a very sick baby, with lots of interuptions to your plan of action and train of thought. It can be very overwhelming. It's biofeedback for your mind/emotions; think of the various techniques women in labor use, etc. I think it would be the unusual person that didn't get scared about making a mistake, or get a bit flustered, when the you-know-what is hitting the fan. Even the doctors feel this way at times. So, hang in there, it does get better.

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aerorunner80 has 8 years experience and works as a NICU nurse turned FNP student class of 2019.

13,312 Visitors; 579 Posts

I've been on my unit for 2.5 years and still get nervous with some assignments. I had a kid the other day who was chemically paralyzed which was a first with me and I was nervous when I first took him on.

It's good for you to be nervous because that is going to make you look extra hard and do extra assessing/etc to make sure you are doing what you need to do.

I get nervous every time I have a kid who is at 100% oxygen on the vent (high frequency or regular) because you know if that kid desats, you have nowhere to really go, especially if they are on high frequency. All you can do is bag and pray if something goes south.

It's not a bad thing to be nervous and question your skills. I think everyone has their days. As time goes on in the unit the days get further apart but they never fully go away.

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661 Visitors; 4 Posts

Everyone is different, but it seems like I always hear "Give it a good year to really get comfortable..."

I may not be much help, but from reading your post I get the sense that you are a bright, diligent, conscientious person and that you are getting these tough assignments because your unit knows you can handle it :) Keep up the good work!

that`s right

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laynaER has 4 years experience and works as a Registered Nurse.

5,133 Visitors; 228 Posts

What you are feeling is normal. I felt that way too. I am 2 years in and sometimes I still feel that way but if you don't face your fears they will intimidate you even more. What helped me? Just remember, if you are not sure, just ask. People know you are new to this and no one will fault you for double checking. Better to tuck your ego in your pocket and get the right answers then be proud and make a mistake. Lastly, you are never alone. The worst that can happen is the kid crashes and if that happens, just bag and remember, you are not alone. Someone with experience will be right there. If you keep those two things in mind, you can't go wrong!

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ilovenicu16 has 5 years experience.

1,286 Visitors; 26 Posts

We were always told you will take about 2 years before you are not considered "new" anymore and won't feel like throwing up before your shift LOL. I think it's true!

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