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Iluv3th4n Iluv3th4n (New Member) New Member

Losing confidence as a nurse

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hello everyone!

So I've been a nurse for two years now and I have never been the most confident in myself and my capabilities. I was just recently gaining confidence in my abilities but since this whole COVID nonsense, my confidence has plummeted. I'm also making more mistakes than I have in past which concerns me. Have you seasoned nurses experienced something like this? I'm hoping that this is just the natural flow of things.

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Gaining confidence is seldom a smooth process. Each 'mistake' is an opportunity, an experience to tuck under your belt and learn from. Now it's one thing, later it is something else. Confidence isn't a place you arrive at like a destination, it is bits and pieces that you fit together over time. When you think you've got it all attained, something else will show you that there is more to the picture. It's just that after a while, you realize that you succeeded in living through one episode and then another, so maybe you don't get so rattled. Instead of 'plummeting' you just go on to find a way to deal  with things better, because you know you've been able to do so in the past. Two years isn't an awful lot of time to gain all the knowledge you feel you need. There is always something new and always a better way, you just have to be open to continually learning... not just about nursing, but about your self. Don't beat yourself up over this. It's the folks who think they already know and can handle it all that are dangerous. 

Edited by No Stars In My Eyes

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I'll second the comments by NoStars. But then we're speaking from years of experience. Newbie-ism is rough and then C19 has most definitely made things worse for  you.

To OP - just know that the postings here on the 'blue' side are less visited than on the other 'yellow' side'. And many of the respondents here are well-'seasoned', as in retired. You're most welcome as a new member, but you might want to ask the moderators to switch you over to the 'yellow' for a broader audience and more respondents if you choose.

Now if you're more mature, you'll fit in just right well here.

Edited by amoLucia

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I just thought of something else to tell you about. I graduated nsg sch in 1971 and worked as a nurse until 2012. When I graduated I knew I didn't want to be afraid of being a nurse, so I asked myself where the biggest, scariest place to work would be. I chose Mass General Hospital, and they chose which floor I'd work on ...after I said "NO pediatrics, and no burn units, please" . So I started my nursing career there and I learned to work with fresh spinal-cord injuries.

But, in all my time as a nurse, I have been unable to hit a vein for inserting IV's or drawing blood. I tried and tried; other people have tried to teach me and (unfortunately for them) volunteered to let me try on them. People said, "You don't have to be afraid, I'll show you how." Well, it got to the point where I really wasn't afraid, and I really did know "how" to do it, yet I still could not hit a vein to save my life. So....oh well! It kind of hurt my feelings I was so bad at it. But, I had to accept that about myself. 

What I could do was stuff that others were 'afraid of' or really disliked doing. Now, mucous isn't my favorite thing, but I could do trach care like nobody's business. I was also good at ostomies and  troubleshooting the problems encountered. I was excellent at packing surgical wounds, and my patients frequently told me I did a very comfortable dressing which stayed put. 

But in all my years as a nurse, I just couldn't do venipuncture . I would say, "If there is a two attempt or three attempt rule about how many tries at venipuncture to make before you call in someone else to do it, save the patient some agony, and get that 'somebody else' in the first place."

That's because I am confident in my inability! I'm not ashamed, but I am still perplexed.

So, I never said I wouldn't do it, and I let 4 or 5 people "teach" me, but over time they came to believe me. Sometimes you just can't do everything you should be able to do. That's where being helpful to others comes in; sometimes you can get the same in return. (But not always!)

You'll learn like I did, even if it harelips the Pope, there are things you aren't good at. But where you ARE good, you can excel.

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NSIME - I like your comment, " ... confident in your inability". 🤩

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I'm not THIS confident, however:

"Confidence is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking tartar sauce with you."

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Thank you everyone for your words of encouragement. I fully appreciate that I am still a "baby nurse" and can't expect perfection nor will I ever know everything. 

No Stars, I love that you shared your story about your difficulty starting IV's. Thank you for that. 

I guess the biggest hit to my confidence is I feel I've lost a lot of knowledge. I don't know if its just stress but I feel my ability to retain information right now is just terrible as well. I work on a medsurg floor but in preparation for a potential surge in COVID patients my unit has added equipment to allow it to function as an ICU if need be. This means that my coworkers and I need to take an advanced EKG test along with familiarize ourselves with vents. (This was all supposed to have been done last month; we had less than a month to complete this) I have never worked with heart rhythms outside of the basics. We only just touched on things like heart blocks in nursing school. I'm not at all opposed to learning new things, its why I fell in love with nursing. Its just the pace at which we're expected to at least kind of know what we're doing. 

I get that COVID makes this situation a little more urgent. But I live and work in a pretty... we'll say rural/isolated area. We've had maybe 3 COVID positive cases at my hospital.

I love that we're totally prepared if we suddenly do get a surge. It just sucks that we were suddenly expected to educate ourselves to an intermediate care level with almost no true hands-on training, plus our unit was closed and we were floating throughout the hospital at the same time. There's just a lot going on and it leaves a lot of space for failure.

I feel like a brand new nurse all over again. Just when I was starting to find my footing. It sucks, it's discouraging and it's stressful. 

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'Trial By Fire' is scary and something you'll never forget. Not preferable, but sometimes a reality. Learning by doing as you go along is so much more helpful. I think it's kind of insane for your facility to just dump all that in your laps and expect you to pick up on everything you need to know. Stress sucks, for sure.

 hugs: (((Ilove3th4n)))

Edited by No Stars In My Eyes

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If you're worried about cardiac rhythms, I suggest printing some up and putting them on note cards and keeping them in your pocket until you get familiar with them. You won't learn them overnight but it will get better with time. Also, when you have down time, print some strips and ask nurses who are familiar with reading strips to teach you how to do the same. That's how I learned when I did tele. Good luck to you.

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Good ideas, NurseBlaq. When I did home health on the weekends, I had a clipboard covered with lots of little 'cheat sheets' to refer to; they really did help! 

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2 hours ago, No Stars In My Eyes said:

Good ideas, NurseBlaq. When I did home health on the weekends, I had a clipboard covered with lots of little 'cheat sheets' to refer to; they really did help! 

Cheat sheets are the best. Sometimes it's too much to remember but we get there with practice.

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I have to confess that one of my cheat sheets contained words from a medical thesaurus which described wounds. We did a lot of  post-surgical wound packings, and were required to chart dimensions and EVERYthing....so,  🤔  I would describe the living bejeebers out of the carefully measured and recorded wound and the appearance of it's bed, periphery, etc.

One of my favorites was the word "grummous' which basically meant a 'wet' wound. I could sling those wound descriptions out, and it was kind of fun, because when they said we had to describe and measure the wounds, by gawd, I sure did! (Be careful what you ask for, I told a many a supervisor)  I was known to REALLY leave NO appearance of changes un-noted. PREEEEE-CISE!  🙋‍♀️It made me laugh to do so, because it wasn't QUITE what anyone would expect from an LPN doing Home Health visits. I do know that most of the RN's whose cases I saw on weekends were happy because it saved them when the powers-that-was were doing their charting inspections. I had a little of what you might call "special permission from the pope', to do assessments as an LPN, having logged in the time (# of years) and variety of experiences to back up my knowledge. 

NOW I can hardly remember anything remotely technical. 🤪 Don't use it, ya lose it, and I sure have. I call stuff 'things', and things, 'stuff' now. The lingo and the practices have changed so much, I don't hardly even tell anybody I was a nurse for so long. I'd rather they talk to me like I don't know a lot of stuff...or things... 😆 because then if I don't know something, I can ask for an explanation without feeling like a dope. Cause now I IS a dope , no pretending. 🤣

Anyway, it was fun while it lasted!

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