When you start out as a new nurse, it can be very overwhelming. You’ve been studying for NCLEX, you’re going through training at your new job, and you’re learning everything about the new facility – their computer systems, protocols, and more – all while trying to learn how to provide care to patients.
So it is completely normal to feel inadequate, stressed out, and overwhelmed. And a lot of new nurses wonder, “When will I feel comfortable as a nurse?”
So, I’ll tell you about my experience of when I began to feel comfortable as a new nurse.
When I Felt Comfortable as a New Nurse
For me, those first six months were the most grueling. During the first three months, I was in orientation and had a preceptor that I was working with, so I wasn’t on my own. It’s nice having that person with you because you can ask anything and you feel more comfortable.
It’s still difficult because you’re learning the ropes, and you’re thinking, “How am I going to get all of my paperwork done.”
After those three months, I was on my own. That’s when I began to question myself and think, “Can I really do this?” And I’d have to remind myself that I had other nurses that I could ask, as well as other resources available.In fact, when I at the end of my orientation period, a nurse took me aside and said, “Even though you’re about to take patients all by yourself, you’ll never truly be alone. We’re here to help you.”
That made me feel so much better.
So you need to remind yourself of that when you have that new nurse anxiety. Remember that you’re not completely alone.
There was definitely an adjustment period during those three months of being on my own. However, after about a year, I felt so much more comfortable.
6 Months to a Year…The Magic Number?
In about six months to a year, you’ll get comfortable with the skills such as starting IVs, drawing blood, accessing central lines, doing your head-to-toe assessments, charting, giving medications, and talking with doctors.
You’ll be doing those things so often that it will become second nature. You’ll look back and think, “I can’t believe I used to be so stressed out about doing these things in nursing school.” And you’ll develop confidence by doing it so often.
During that first year or so, you’re building the foundation of your nursing skills, and as time goes by, you’re going to add new skills and really begin to master so many things in the nursing profession.
Don’t Get Overwhelmed
I do see that some new nurses get so overwhelmed that they actually drop out of nursing before they get over that hump. Once you get over that hump, things get a lot easier. In a sense, nursing is never “easy.” But things get easier.
And it is normal as a new nurse to cry, to feel inferior, to feel like you can’t do it. But you have to hang on and give yourself time. You’re going to get better, faster, and learn this stuff.
So give yourself time and realize that things are going to get better. You’re going to grow, and you’re going to acquire a skills that you can use for your entire career. You’re building a foundation that first year of your nursing career, and then you’re going to build up on that foundation.