Self-doubt after nursing school.
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I remember FINALLY getting through RN school, only to feel like I had learned nothing like I knew nothing. I was so SCARED because I felt like I wasn’t prepared to work on my own as a nurse. Not only was I afraid I would suck as a new nurse,
- I was afraid I would overlook something important or that I would miss something on an assessment.
- I was afraid I wouldn’t call the doctor at the right time because I was afraid of being yelled at.
- I was afraid of being made fun of by other nurses for not knowing something or asking too many questions.
- I was afraid someone would die because I didn’t know what I Was doing.
“I felt so stupid…..”
You talk about anxiety, I had it. I remember crying to my husband telling him I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing and that scared me.
Did any of the other people in my class feel this way? If they did, it didn’t show because nobody ever talked about it. I felt so STUPID, how could I have gotten all the way through nursing school and not have a clue what I was doing?
Have you ever felt like that? Like you weren’t prepared at all for the task ahead?
Well let me tell you, that’s normal! It is pretty normal to get all the way through nursing school and think, now what?
RN school gives you the foundation for your career and teaches you to pass a test, but the real learning starts after you graduate.
“I still get scared and nervous”
And you know something else, you are not going to know everything after orientation either. I have been an ER nurse for a year and a half, and while I have improved tremendously on my skills, I still have so much to learn. It is still scary and I still get nervous. There are still moments of self-doubt and fear. I still second guess myself sometimes.
Part of being a good nurse is to always be learning, always ask questions. If you don’t know or you’re not sure ASK! The great thing about nursing is that it is forever changing and growing.
“My first big trauma came rolling in those ER doors…”
Nursing is scary, your first code will be scary. The first time you help a mom bring her new baby into the world, the first time you take care of a new stroke patient and mix tPA, the first time you have a STEMI; they will all be scary. You will always wonder did I do that right? Should I have done something differently? The first time I had my first big trauma come rolling in those ER doors, my heart was beating so fast and my hand was shaking, no one saw it but I knew. I was so nervous, but I got the IV in immediately, within 60 seconds, drugs were given and the patient was intubated. BUT I WAS SCARED THE WHOLE TIME.
You will be scared but I promise it will be okay! Find a strong nurse and learn from her/him. Never be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. Take each shift one hour at a time, one minute at a time.
My advice for after nursing school
- Never be afraid to ask questions, never be afraid to say you don’t know how to do something to a coworker. I remember once we were doing conscious sedation and I had never done one before. I told the doctor that I had never done one and he needed to let me know if there was anything I needed to know and he did. He didn’t make fun of me or belittle me as I had envisioned before, he helped me.
- Always be willing to learn. As nurses, we are required to take continuing education so make the most of them. Also, take the time to read more or learn more about things that you don’t know much about. If you are in the ER, I highly suggest getting a copy of
- Take classes, find resources to help you learn concepts or skills. If you are an ER nurse, the ENA has some great stuff to help you grow as an ER nurse. (You can find it here: https://www.ena.org/)
Just know that you are not alone, lots of nurses feel totally lost when they first start. No one starts out with 100% confidence, we all started straight out of nursing school.
Although I have recently left ER Nursing, I have found all this rings true for any nursing position you take. You are forever learning and growing as a nurse, and that’s what is so great about it. I invite you to leave a comment below if this resonates with you and let’s connect!