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10 more frustrating things about being a new nurse


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Being a new nurse is something all nurses have in common. Since everyone can relate, and misery loves company, we wanted to explore the most frustrating thing about being a new nurse.

Sean Dent got the ball rolling and then we went to Facebook to hear from you. Not only is it a chance to relive your own first days (for better or worse), but these messages can also serve as warnings for upcoming new nurses.

Here are 10 more frustrating things about being a new nurse, and don’t forget to add your own in the comments as well!

“Being a brand-new nurse right out of school and being completely clueless because school only prepared us to pass the boards.”
Michael Cox

“Need nursing experience to get a nursing job…it’s a catch-22. Need a job to get that experience.”
Joe Colavito

“Veteran nurses who MAKE you feel stupid…it’s like they forgot they were new once.”
Jessica Parker

“Working very hard, never getting off work on time and the feeling that whatever you do isn’t good enough.”
Geri Wilson

“All the old no-mercy-having gators already working there! I’ve striven my entire career to never be one of those; to be helpful and kind to the newbies.”
Sarah Doss Farrer

“I have been a nurse for 21 years and the one thing I remember most is that a nursing instructor told me that ‘nursing is 10 percent book work and 90 percent common sense’ and just because you graduate doesn’t mean you stop learning.”
—Jane Payton

“Being ‘thrown under the bus’ for things you did not do.”
Amanda Eagle

“Not knowing where anything is kept, not knowing procedures for things like discharges/admissions, being spoken down to, getting your own routine, the list goes on….”
Billy-Jo Main

“Feeling stupid all the time, LOL!”
Suellen Needs

“I practically cried on the way home my first two weeks on the job. Not because of mean seasoned nurses, but because of how overwhelmed I felt, how much I felt like I didn’t know enough. I pretty much rethought my whole career choice, then remembered why I became a nurse. I’m still new, but two months later I’ve realized as long as I’ve done my best at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Not saying I don’t still feel overwhelmed sometimes, but I’m improving. So hang in there fellow new nurses!”
Nicole Stevens

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7 Responses to 10 more frustrating things about being a new nurse

  1. breehat

    I’m still a new nurse, and all those listed in the article happened to me….I even had a job at a nursing home where they did not pay me for 2 weeks orientation even though I already was listed on their payroll, and got all my Wforms…and they did not pay me because according to them I was too slow in administering meds and performing care (cleaning colostomy bags, trach vents, feeding Gtubes, doing enema, wound care, initiating catheterization, etc) for 35 patients in the limit of 2.5 hrs….I gave up because the nursing services director did not want to accept my reason, “I am new and I don’t want to sacrifice medical errors and precision over speed.” So they did not pay me and told me it was because I did not pass their “speed test orientation.” It’s in a nursing home in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

  2. Dr. RN

    I am sure this is illegal. You need to investigate your situation and get paid.

  3. Debra Perkins

    When I became a nurse 31 years ago it was much different than it is now. For the most major change it was that staffing was done by acuity, numbers one through four. One requiring very minimal care and a four requiring extensive care. In hospitals nurses usually had around 6 patients on the surgical floor, in a nursing home around 20 was the average. This gave the nurse time to give QUALITY care and be able to know their patients not run in give meds and run out as it seems to be today. Also they were mostly able to get the work done and get off at the correct time which is very rare today. The bigest difference that I have seen since I started in 1980 is that the nurses seemed to be happier an enjoyed their work more than. The biggest complaint I get is from families that always want to know why can’t we nurses talk to them and let them know what is going on with their loved one.

  4. lillian87

    I have been a nurse more than 25 years, working on 30 years, I have seen a lot of new nurses come and go. There are so many issues that are affecting our new nurses that it would take me 10 pages to go over all of them. I am proud to say that I treat all new nurses as I wished I had been treated when I was there. My philosophy has always been that the nurse is only as good as her preceptor and the only stupid question is the one they don’t ask and potentially hurt someone. I am aware that seasoned nurses can be mean and rude. This is inexcusable, but you also have to admit that it would be hard to teach someone who thinks they know it all and treat you like an aging dinosaur. I have run into this many times, I try to keep an open mind and remember my manners but sometimes it is difficult. So, I am not sure what the answer is but reality shock needs to be addressed while the new nurse is in school, bring in some seasoned nurses to speak to classes, let the students ask questions, pick nurses for preceptors who really want to BE preceptors, etc…Alright, done with my rant…

    Lillian 87

  5. Profconner

    I’ve been a nurse for 31 years. I am currently nursing faculty. I must object to the statement that we only teach enough to pass the boards. I am disappointed that a new nurse did not value the rich education that was offered to them. I hope in time a new nurse will realize the impact of their education. It must be completely terrifying to be a new nurse. I notice, in my clinical position that I keep so I can keep my finger on the pule of the healthcare industry, that nurses are asked to do more and more and are faced with situations that cannot be predicted in the classroom. I strive in the classroom to facilitate my students “thinking” and not to stuff facts down their throats. While there is a common core of knowledge that constitutes nursing, it is most important to teach skills that are usable, transferable and offer a springboard to think about.
    One of the most significant problems facing nursing is assigning blame. In a profession, people are expected to take responsibility for their “reaction” to any situation. Assigning blame to the old nurse, the nursing school or the hospital system is a cop out. Please be powerful in your knowledge, be respectful to your abilities, be mindful of the awesomeness of your profession, and remember when you are in the supply closet crying because you can’t find that tree to deliver oxygen to your patient, WHY you did this.
    Thank you for choosing nursing. Hang in there, it will come easy in time.

  6. jamielynn417

    As a new nurse it seemed I would get all the confused and incontinent rather than the more complicated. Eventually I had to step up and say I needed the more complex patients so I could gain experience. Advice to new nurses, have confidence in yourself but also remember asking questions and knowing you limitations does not show weakness!!

  7. Kim Edwards

    Yes it is very difficult being a new nurse , It is getting easier however

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