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First year woes

I am currently working on my doctorate and would love to hear from new nurses on how their first year of nursing is going/went. It is a topic we are discussing in one of my classes and I'd like to get it from the horse's mouth (no offense meant)to share w/members of the class. If you would like to add a comment, please let me know. Many thanks and regards,

Lois Phillips

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5 Responses to “First year woes”

  1. new2it Says:

    OK….maybe I can reflect without tears streaming down my face…..ok, here goes….let me just start out by saying nursing school is very hard and stressful, and once you get that little word ‘PASS’ from the Pearson Vue website regarding your state boards….it feels surreal, and a HUGE weight has been taken off your chest. Now on to being a new nurse. I just hit my first 90-day mark on the 4th of April (of this year) at my first real RN job on a med/surg floor. It has been rewarding and stressful….My first month or so, I was an emotional wreck most of the time, trying to learn new things, dealing with different personalities, being the target for some nurses’ problems because I am more vulnerable. Some more experienced nurses have no problems making you feel inadequate and jump to any opportunity to accuse you of doing things incorrectly and criticize you to other nurses either when you are present or when your back is turned. I have found that just because you get done with your new nurse ‘orientation’ does not mean you know enough to not ever ask questions and to be frankly honest, you really feel like you still do not know a thing. It seems as soon as I came off my orientation/preceptorship, I got assigned patients that had things going wrong with them that I had never been exposed to during my orientation, like patients with trach tubes, death, falls, and many other different things. I have found that as a new nurse, when I do a lot of what is considered ‘CNA duties,’ and the CNA working the floor notices that you are doing these things, they will assume they don’t have to do their job when it comes to your assigned patients.

  2. mardore Says:

    I agree with you on many of the points you made but I must say that I lucked out with both my preceptor and with the floor I am on. I have found all but 1 nurse to be helpful and there if I need assistance. I feel totally overwhelmed and unprepared. I have no idea what I am supposed to know and do at this point. I pass meds and chart. I have great pt/nurse relationships and my patients seem to like me. But I am a nervous wreck talking to the physicians and I have no idea when I should be really concerned about lab values unless they are critical. Many tests are unfamiliar to me. I am set to end orientation next week and am a nervous wreck about it. So afraid I will forget to do something, etc. Still working on finding my groove to better manage my time. I know I was meant to be a nurse and I know someday I will be a great nurse but right now I feel so inadequate and unprepared.

  3. Anna Banana Says:

    I just passed the one year mark. I have learned a lot, and am continuing to learn every day.
    I think half of the stress is adjusting to a night schedule, which is where I had to start, and will probably be for quite a while. It puts your whole life out of whack.
    At first I felt very uncomfortable and nervous about everything… now it’s just sometimes, when things are busy and stressful/hectic, or when I am assigned something I haven’t done/seen before or don’t feel confident about. It gets better as you go. Some days I don’t like it – most days I do.
    The best thing I can say is ASK QUESTIONS! Other nurses and staff KNOW you are new, and are usually willing to help. Hopefully you work in an area where staff are supportive, and where you are encouraged to be open about how you’re feeling. Talk to your manager and educator. Find a group of new nurses as a support team. Pray. Cry when you have to, and try to laugh. And did I mention, ASK QUESTIONS?! One time I told a doc, “Um, I’m pretty new at this, and I don’t know if this is something important you need to know, but…” He said, “That’s OK. I’m pretty new at this too. Let’s take a look and figure it out…” Wow. That was a relief. I know not all interactions occur so well, but that was good for me to experience so early on. It helped build my trust in our team of doc’s.
    Stressful days will happen, but you will have many good experiences that will build your character as a nurse, and all-around person. Hang in there. You’ll keep growing. It’ll get better… 🙂

  4. Ella Says:

    OH MY WHERE DO I START? I am just off my 12 week orientation as an ICU/CCU/Stepdown unit nurse. I am 47 and this is a second career for me, having worked in counseling and social services in the past, raised 4 kids, so I’m no slacker, new to the world of work. My orientation started off well, but since my hospital hired many new grads for an expensive expansion, it’s been chaotic, full of mixed messages from management about what we should be able to do by when. My preceptor was 7 years older than I am, but you’d think I was 22 and she was 60 in her style and approach to working as a nurse. To give her credit, she has never gone through a preceptor training course, and she herself was under pressure to produce/perform at a high level during this time. She started out being very nice and helpful, but ended up being a monster. Over the 12 weeks, she became an intolerable controlling,judgmental, passive aggressive nightmare who I dreaded having to spend 13 hours a day with. At the point when she should have just stepped back and let me be on my own like my peers were doing, she continued to direct my every move with my patients. Constantly intervening and interrupting my work flow, coming into patient rooms and performing duties or administering meds that SHE decided were a priority, and then making vague statements about how I needed to have better time management skills instead of just enjoying the personal aspects of working with my patients. Instead of letting me be on my own and check in now and then, she was constantly “reminding” me to do various paperwork and other routine tasks, even though I knew full well they needed to be done–sometimes I had just completed them! I felt like I was under her thumb constantly. I did make a couple of minor med errors that I learned from, and I still really don’t understand a lot of the hospital protocols yet because she would often sweep in behind or in front of me and do them herself. “Oh, I ordered your patient’s diet for you” or “Your patient’s IV tubing was dated for this morning so I went ahead and changed it for you” or “I hung Mr.X’s next dose of such and such so you wouldn’t be behind in the MAR”…on and on and always things I was just getting to or knew needed to be done. In the end, she gave me average points on y evals for “task organization” and “knowledge of procedures”, which was the icing on top of the cake. It basically means I’ll be on the night shift now for months to prove I am “good enough”. I wish I had gone to my Unit Director about half-way through and let him know what was up, but now I’m just thankful to have her out of my hair and be on my own with my work.

  5. Ellen Says:

    Well, I just made it to the two year mark. I went into the ED directly from nursing school. Talk about jumping in!!

    The first year was very challenging. There were definitely moments where I felt like I knew nothing at all; there were definitely moments where I felt very confident, only to find that I was overly confident.

    Looking back now I am able to see how much progress I have made in a short time. Just yesterday I was able to coach a new grad through a cardioversion and it reminded me of how much I didn’t know when I first graduated.

    I think the key to success in the first year is to be be confident in what you know but have an appreciation for the vast amount that you do not know yet; always be looking for learning opportunities, never be afraid to ask if you don’t know what to do, and to always remember that even though at times it can feel like “just a job” that these are people who are trusting their lives to you.

    Keep your head up and know that every nurse you work with was in your shoes at one point in their career. Don’t forget how you feel now – down the road you will be the one the new grads are looking to for guidance!

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