Do “new nurses” scare you, too?

It was handed down to me in a very profound way that it’s our job, as nurses, to expect the unexpected. To think in terms of the ‘worst case scenario’. To prepare for the worst, but expect the best. To always have our ‘game’ face on, and to always play our ‘A’ game. I just don’t see that with these ‘newer’ nurses. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen plenty of awe-inspiring new nurses, that can and have put me and other experienced nurses to shame. I am humbled by their skills, I really am. But, I can’t remember the last time I felt humbled by a new nurse.

I’m not just talking about whom I’ve worked with shoulder-to-shoulder. I’m talking all facets of interaction (in-person & on-line). So it’s not just my small circle of the world.

Maybe I need a breather?

Maybe I need a change of scenery?

Maybe it’s not me at all?

I don’t know. What I do know is that it’s my responsibility to myself and my profession to continually challenge this new attitude. I’m not saying we need to ‘put’ anyone ‘in there place’, but we definitely need to educate and enlighten those that need it.

Am I alone on this, or have others come across this ‘Bo Jackson’ phenomena of ‘knowing everything’?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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47 Responses to Do “new nurses” scare you, too?

  1. JaniceRN

    I have been a nurse since 1983. I’ve worked in med-surg, pulmonary ICU, cardiac ICU, and most recently home health before retiring from active nursing in 2009. I have yet to reach the point where I don’t find something new to learn. I sure don’t know how someone, especially one who has just graduated within the last year could possibly know everything. (Of course, we know they don’t really.) Medicine is not static and is an ever changing field so as nurses (and doctors too) we must be open to learning every day! IMHO!

  2. teena1282

    As someone whose only been a nurse for 1 year and only been working med-surg for about a month, I find this really offensive. How can you be so judgmental about new nurses? I am terrified every day when I go to work that I’m going to screw something up or do something wrong, and I look forward to the day when I don’t feel so anxious at the mere thought of going to work. Sometimes, I feel so lost like I’m never going to get everything down! And I don’t know any nurse nurse who doesn’t feel the same way as me! So, I guess it is true that nurses really do eat their young…

    • Sean Dent

      @teena1282 I’m sorry you interpreted this article in that way. Knowing that you feel the way you do, you will do great. It’s that unsettling feeling in your gut that makes you a top notch nurse in the end. To this day, I have never followed that horrible urban legend. Best of luck to you in your new career!

  3. NurseTessa

    There are two kinds of new “scary nurses” out there: Ms. I know it all, and Ms. paralyzed by fear. I find both scare me in their own ways. I’m scared Ms. know it all won’t ask for help when she really needs it and will end up making a mistake. I’m scared Ms. paralyzed by fear won’t speak up and make the right call at the right time for their patient. They will sit in fear until they have to push the code light, all because they are afraid to speak up to an MD and trust what they know.

    Then there are a glorious group of new nurses who just “get it”. They are confident it what they know and aren’t afraid to ask the right questions at the right time.

    • Sean Dent

      @NurseTessa I’m glad someone is at least validating my fears. Thanks for sharing. And you are absolutely correct.

  4. hoopernurse

    As a nursing student due to graduate in December I find this article very insulting! I don’t know a single person in my graduating class who his this super “I know it all!” ego like you’ve mentioned! Every last one of us knows that no matter how much we learn in school, we haven’t even touched the tip of the ice berg of what we need to know. We all know that we’re totally clueless and would be roadkill if it wasn’t for the older nurses, hopefully helping to educate us. Every clinical I make it a point to show respect for my betters and the senior nurses, to learn from them as much as I can. I always assume that ‘itll hit the fan’ and plan for it. If I have a question or I’m not a 100% sure (And I never am) I get a second opinion or stop and ‘check myself before I wreck myself; as it were. The day someone thinks they know it all, as the day they’re going to fall on their face. Boundless confidence is for actors and orthopedic surgeons, not for us newbie nurses.

    I certainly pray that the nurses who I work with in clinical don’t think such horrible things about the new students. Teach us, help us to grow! If that means you need to slap us with a newspaper every so often, go right ahead, but know that if you teach it, we will learn it!

    • Sean Dent

      @hoopernurse reading your words tells me that you’re not someone I’d be worried about. Thank you for your honesty. And it’s not the fresh from graduation nurses I am generalizing about, but the nurses with a mere 1, possibly 2 years of experience. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts.

    • LeighAnn07

      I completely agree with this! I just graduated in May and have JUST found myself a job. Now I’m terrified that the nurses I will be working with are going to be thinking this about me, although I’ve never once thought that I know everything … I ask for help when I need it and I am always open to help and education. I HATE how “older nurses” forget that they, too, where once the ‘STUDENT NURSE’ as well as the ‘NEWER NURSE.’ Don’t forget that you were once in our shoes, and you at one time, did not have all the knowledge that you do now. GEEZ.

  5. JennRN

    Im a new nurse with only 6 months under my belt. Ive never ever acted like I know it all. In fact, there isnt a day that goes by that I dont ask another nurse for something (help, how to do something, a simple question I need reassurance on, etc). I look forward to learning something new each and every day,

    • Sean Dent

      @JennRN Glad to hear you are on the right track! Be sure to pass on your passion to others.

  6. nurseleigh

    Sean, I completely agree with you. I have been a nurse 12 years, in many different settings (staff, agency, travel, telemetry, ICU) and I find whether it’s on a regular med-surg unit or ICU, I learn something new almost every shift. Medicine is NOT a static field, which is why I love it. Unfortunately, there are plenty of new-ish nurses who don’t ask questions and are not receptive to education. It’s a job, it’s a paycheck. In my opinion, nursing should be a PASSION, and a continuous journey of learning and caring. I think the students that are responding to this post are taking it too personally, and will understand more once they are out in the field and in contact with the types of people you are referring to. My advice? If you find yourself offended, or insulted, by this article, chances are you are not one of the nurses we are talking about!

    • Sean Dent

      @nurseleigh Thank you so very much for your insight. You hit the nail on the head on all accounts! I want to re-post your comment for everyone! Thanks again.

    • AudraHallLPN

      Amen, nurseleigh. I am a nurse of 23 years. I believe that nursing is a “calling”. And nurses should be passionate about their profession. The nurses that scare me are the ones who get into it for the wrong reasons.

  7. crissy1219

    Although new nurses can bring a fresh set of eyes to a situation some of them come out of nursing school like the KNOW EVERYTHING & that’s scary. I’ve had some bad experiences w/new nurses who thought they knew everything or had an answer for everything. Fortunately, some of them mellow out and act NORMAL but then again there are a 1-2 still out there who still act the same way they did when they came out of nursing school and there’s no changing those type of nurses. Those are the nurses that scare me the most because they believe they know everything that they don’t even converse w/their peers if their answer/doings are correct. Those are the nurses you need to watch out for in my opinion. Karma does eventually catch up with them….

    • Pat0223

      I personally feel that some of the young nurses are eating the old nurses. There seems to be no respect for experience. A BSN is NOT the equivalent of 15-20 years of acute care hospital experience!!

      • Granny RN

        You are correct. I have seen blogs about this from ‘over-50’ nurses all over the country. Many of them have been ‘retired’ early, laid off or simply let go so that the facility can hire 2-3 newbies for what One experienced old war horse will cost.
        However, what bothers ME most is the number of nurses with little to no experience who are going from their ‘basic’ BSN straight into a Masters’ program. They may have plenty of ‘book learnin’ and ego but Not the experience to back it up!

  8. jetalynne

    Even being a new-ish nurse, I can agree with this in a way, since I have worked with a few newer nurses like this. But mostly they were the kind who were too afraid to ask questions and ended up doing something wrong that could’ve potentially hurt their patient. I have never once been afraid to ask a question if I am unsure about something, because quite honestly, I’m very afraid of hurting my patients or doing something so incredibly wrong! I worked long and hard to get this license and I love what I do, I’m not going to let my being uncertain of something ruin what I love doing! But unfortunately there are those who are only there for the paycheck and think they know it all!

  9. StudentNurseDana

    Sean, I’m a nursing student who will (hopefully!!) graduate next spring. I can see where some of my classmates are going to be nurses like that because they are already clinical students like that. So although I do agree with you about how dangerous and frustrating a know it all new nurse can be, I also do think that nursing tends to eat their young. I worked as an aide this summer and the nurses were terrible to the new nurses and to the nursing students. I hope that when I’m an older nurse, I’ll be able to pass on some tips and hints instead of trying to discourage students from entering the profession.

  10. thegatekeeper

    A nurse of 2 years and a recent ICU transplant (no pun intended), I have to respectfully agree and disagree with you.

    I have co-workers, both novice and experienced, who I would not want taking care of my family members.

    Even having been in the ICU only 7 months, I cannot count how many times I have followed an “experienced” nurse, only to see that my lines are out of date, drips are questionably compatible, electrolytes not supplemented, charting is incorrect (really, that amputee has a +2 pulse in the affected limb? Incredible..), or my IABP has suboptimal timing… really? This is a nurse who has been charge and takes ECMO patients?

    I also feel like many experienced nurses don’t like to take the time out with “difficult” families or patients. After frontloading an hour answering their questions and addressing their anxieties, I have no issues for the night; they tell me they feel safe leaving their loved one in my care, more than that “other nurse.”

    I really do try not to judge (I sure as hell know I’ve made my share of errors…that nurse was just busy and probably just didn’t see that the lines were 2 days out of date?), just as I try not to judge my patients or family members, however, it’s articles like this that irk me.

    I’m only 24 and I have certainly made mistakes, both large and small, that I have learned from and am a much better nurse for it, however, I feel as though I’m constantly proving myself, always on guard, while veteran nurses can get away with things like that, things that would get me talked about behind my back…

    I’d appreciate some feedback from veteran nurses. I mean no disrespect as you have also been there to back me up, just as my younger peers have; these are just my anecdotal experiences.

  11. KristiRN

    I have been a RN for 2 years in critical care and consider myself a new nurse. However, I was disturbed being fresh out of school how much the older nurse with 20 years experience had forgotten or had never known about pathophysiology and standards of care. Many older nurses continue to do things the same way they always have even if evidence based practice has changed.

    One advantage to the newbies is that the “book smarts” are still fresh. I agree with many of your comments. The biggest thing I had to develop was my backbone in dealing with other nurses and docs.

    I think the nature of the profession is that each day is different. I work with a couple of ICU nurses that have been in the profession for 30+ years. I often ask them, “Have you ever seen or done anything like this…” and the answer is “No.”

    • nurseNelly33

      I have been a nurse for 20 yrs & 12 of those yrs I have been practicing as an APRN. I have proctored nursing students over the years & work with a brand new set of grads in my department every semester. I agree, some catch on fast, some are already ” know it alls” & some I just wonder if they will ever get it. I work in a very busy trauma center & honestly cannot have the “never getting it” nurses. They don’t have the medical or personal skills to work with patients. It is frustrating to see a new nurse say that older nurses don’t know patho or terms or have left messes. Just like brand new nurses that give new grads a bad name, there will be the more experienced nurses that do the same. You also don’t know what kind of a shift they had before you came on- it may have been hell. You may be dealing with the family who arrived at the end of the previous nurse’s shift & she may have never been given an opportunity to educate them. If your lines are outdated by 2 days, that means those have gone through 4 shifts (12 hours) and more than 1 person is to blame. Incompatible drugs- that should’ve been checked by everyone including pharmacy. Hralthcare is teamwork. It’s understanding that nurses feel offended when articles like these are published but after working in many areas as a nurse & APRN (sometimes in the same week) I have worked with the best and the worst- RN’s, MD’s, CNA’s, EMT’s, etc. But this is about nurses. Nurses that have big ego’s never win. If you think you’ll never make a mistake & you’re the best, be very afraid for your license. You’ll be losing it soon. The important thing is to realize that everyone is different, some go in to nursing because they want to care for pt’s others do it for $$$. Some have patience, others have none. It is also one of the most emotionally & physically draining professions & the burnout rate is super high. I guess before you judge an experienced nurse for not knowing advanced patho or not being able to deal with a family think about how many nurses came before you that were mentored & flourished all because an “experienced nurse” took the time to help with orientation or a procedure. We can only help each other by promoting a positive environment & fixing things we find no matter who’s “fault” it is.

      • JulieRN

        Your response perfectly mirrored my thoughts. I’ve been a nurse for 13 years and each day of my career has presented a new lesson. We all get involved and bogged down and miss something whether we’re brand new or seasoned. Good nursing teams are composed of members who will correct the missed item and make a note to bring it up in the next nurse’s meeting that team members need to be more cognizant of changing lines in a timely fashion to prevent secondary infections. We are only as good as we help our co-workers to be and there is no glory in attempting to humiliate other nurses–whether they are newbies or experienced. It’s not what a nurse knows or the measurement of how few mistakes he/she makes that determines the individual as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ nurse; it’s the ability to keep learning, whether from the experienced nurses who have ‘lived through it’ or from the relatively new nurses who have new information to share. It’s also about how we respond to a situation and choose to assign blame or find a solution to prevent it from being a recurring issue. I firmly believe that if we in the nursing profession would offer each other more support and work more collaboratively, we could more definitively identify ourselves as individual practitioners and make strides for our profession.

  12. heyjude

    I just graduated and haven’t been able to find a job. No one wants to give us new nurses an opportunity. We need to learn! Every application I fill out requires some years of experience. How are we supposed to get experience when no one gives us a chance to begin our career we worked so hard on? I, personally do not feel like I know everything and that is why I want the opportunity to learn more and put to practice everything that I’ve learned in school. I don’t anyone who I graduated with who think that they’re “the best” or know everything there is.

  13. tabbyrn

    I have been a Nurse since 2007, working in a couple different areas, most recently in long term/skilled. When I was a charge nurse of an high acquity oncology/telemetry floor, I find that I seen this in about half of the new grad nurses I worked with. I have never felt as is I know everything, I learn every day. I am not sure what the difference is, It is scary though. I have a couple new nurses, and one has such a bad attitude, and a know it all sense, that my skilled rehab patients refuse to allow her to care for them. And there is no getting through to her. How many times can we attempt to show them the way when they “know everything” and do not want to listen? I am the RN with the most experiance working in my facility, with the exception of the DON and ADON, but I am by far perfect. I guess professionalism is a learned art….

  14. telworth

    I agree with what you are feeling. I see it every day. It’s not all new nurses but there are some. The thing is that the managers are fast tracking some of these nurses because they can mold them into what they want. It is easier for them to get them to do and act the way they want without hearing any resistance. Thusly these nurses feel they must be better than other nurses and get that I can do it all attitude. I am very worried about what will become of nursing because of this.

  15. Gracie 15

    I agree with Nurse Tessa she does define it well, I am practicing our profession for only 5 yrs. but I do notice it also whenever I tried to assist or teach new nurse in our area either they will say thanks because they know it and some just stand in one corner and never ask any question?? Thus I think it also depends upon one’s personality :)
    Reminder this only my opinion hehe.. thus the good thing here is I/we learned how to mingle with my/our co-workers and learn from them at the same time 😉

  16. jas

    I’ve been a RN for 20 years. At one time, about 5 years after graduation, I had the opportunity to orient new nurses and precept during clinicals. This last couple of years I’ve found myself working with student nurses again as they rotate through our floor. I love to pass on the knowledge base I have accumulated and learn new things from the fresh RNs. I can definitely say my recent experiences have shown me a group who doesn’t come to clinicals very prepared. If you ask a question regarding pathophysiology or even meds, these students will just look at you like you’re speaking Greek. They won’t even attempt to find the answer on their own, they expect to be spoon fed the info. Maybe it was just my school but we’d say we didn’t know but will go look it up and come back with the answer.

    I’m now disabled (from a patient attack) but I sometimes worry about the care of the future. I encourage all experienced RNs to continue imparting their knowledge base and all “new” RNs to be receptive to that teaching.

  17. ravenx

    Some do, some don’t. Recently had a new nurse ask me to help her start an IV, of course I said sure, and I stood back to watch, after doing everything right, she started to put the IV in upside down. I stopped her by saying that the cath looked to be made wrong and we should go get another and start over. She immediately got irate at the bedside, and demanded to know what the issue was. I was able to calm her down and get her aside to tell her my concern. To which she told me to start the IV myself. Those are the types I worry about. But then I recently met two new nurses that I find myself learning from and loving it. So good to know that for me at least there is two to whom I’d trust the health of my family and myself to jonly one that will take a bit more time, patience and harder work to learn.

  18. angienurse35

    Well I can see both sides, even after 10 years of practice. I just took PALS and got my butt handed to me on a platter. We ALL need to make a point of asking questions when we are unsure. I too experienced the “eat your young” mentality and am trying to get my
    Masters in nursing education so I can hopefully keep those learning encouraged. Just keep in mind none of us know everything!

    • Smiley

      Being a new RN (1 yr exp under belt) I would say this door swings both ways. I think as nurses it is our job to project a sense of confidence towards our patients so they can relax in our care, and just heal. But I have been witness to seasoned nurses who decided it was not “critical enough” to call the rapid response team and subsequently the patients deteriorated into a code situation, some with negative outcomes. I once let a seasoned nurse talked me out of a concern I had, you know that “gut feeling” you get when you just know, and my patient crashed. I learned a valuable lesson that night, despite your experience, if my gut tells me there is a problem, I’m calling it, you can talk about me at the station all you want but I will project myself to your gossip and badmouthing if it means I save my patients life!
      I witness on a daily basis lateral violence by senior nurses who are threatened by the energy of the newer ones. Who degrade and ridicule you for asking questions, isn’t that how we learn? I see your charts when the senior nurses leave for the day, really, you didn’t see that 4cm pressure ulcer and charted skin intact? I am consistenly updating patient status charts and face the subsequent chewing from the doctors on why they were not notified sooner of the downgrade.
      So I would say, don’t group newer nurses into one “scary group”, call a spade a spade. As a new nurse who cares deeply and passionately about the care I provide, is not afraid to ask questions despite the ridicule I face, I am somewhat offended by this article.

  19. Smiley

    Being a new RN (1 yr exp under belt) I would say this door swings both ways. I think as nurses it is our job to project a sense of confidence towards our patients so they can relax in our care, and just heal. But I have been witness to seasoned nurses who decided it was not “critical enough” to call the rapid response team and subsequently the patients deteriorated into a code situation, some with negative outcomes. I once let a seasoned nurse talked me out of a concern I had, you know that “gut feeling” you get when you just know, and my patient crashed. I learned a valuable lesson that night, despite your experience, if my gut tells me there is a problem, I’m calling it, you can talk about me at the station all you want but I will project myself to your gossip and badmouthing if it means I save my patients life!
    I witness on a daily basis lateral violence by senior nurses who are threatened by the energy of the newer ones. Who degrade and ridicule you for asking questions, isn’t that how we learn? I see your charts when the senior nurses leave for the day, really, you didn’t see that 4cm pressure ulcer and charted skin intact? I am consistenly updating patient status charts and face the subsequent chewing from the doctors on why they were not notified sooner of the downgrade.
    So I would say, don’t group newer nurses into one “scary group”, call a spade a spade. As a new nurse who cares deeply and passionately about the care I provide, is not afraid to ask questions despite the ridicule I face, I am somewhat offended by this article

  20. I must say that I am highly offended by this article. The entire tone of the article is exactly why people say that in nursing we eat our own. There is nothing constructive, helpful or even useful about this “article”, which really seems to belong more on a blog post than in a nursing magazine.

    In the past I have come to Scrubs Magazine to read the articles, but if this is the quality of what they have to offer lately I think I will be visiting less often. While everyone is entitled to their opinion and allowed to voice it, I simply feel that this piece should not have made into a nursing magazine as it is highly prejudiced against one group of nurses with none of the article being constructive and the topic just doesn’t seem to be aimed stimulating constructive commentary. The only thing that I can see this topic being is highly inflammatory and insulting to many sides.

    I am very disappointed that this is the road that Scrubs Magazine has chosen to head down.

    • offroadnurse

      I agree with you Kitty. Why do the bloggers at Scrubs continue to stir the pot? Shouldn’t we be talking about more important things like Legislature, sharing ideas about how to make a peer review committee effective, how to chart, what we LIKE about each other? I am nursing now for 20 years. I precept nurses all the time and I love to give them all I know. One day, they might be MY nurse. I think that everyone has their own learning curve, personality, and code of ethics. Just like everything we do, some are good at it and for some, it takes a little longer. New nurses are scared to death and really need those one or two mentors to go to, whether new or not, and those with experience are only desiring respect for their knowledge. Can’t we meet in the middle? Can’t we all just get along? I like to think that a nurse I’ve helped is out there, somewhere, glad for the day she/ he came across my path. Experienced ones…set an example. New ones…respect your teachers.

  21. beachbumrn

    Try doing this job for 2.5 decades. To all the new and soon-to-be nurses reading this article: if this offends you, you had better grow some tougher skin fast! That being said, take the article for what it is worth. I have seen numerous nurses pass through my shifts. And after nearly 25 years, I still LOVE the new grads and new nurses who come to my specialty units. Most are eager to learn, eager to do a good job, and eager to ask questions. And, at times, there have been those who scare me. Ask questions, lots of questions. Ask for help–you are new and I expect you to have a learning curve. It is the same curve I scaled when I began. Be up front with your strengths AND your weaknesses. If you don’t know something, or haven’t done something, tell me. I will have a greater respect for your honesty and integrity if you put the patient’s safety before your ego. Listen, A LOT. You will soon find the “oldies” who love this job and remember what being new was like. You will also quickly find the “oldies” who are tired, burnt out, and just putting in time. Seek mentorship from the former, and don’t waste time or worry on the latter. And, lastly, be kind to your ancillary staff. Some of them know more than you do, and always will. A secretary, nurse aide, phlebo, or security guard might someday save your behind. We are all there to take the best possible care of the patients. Keep that perspective, and you will enjoy a long, safe, and happy career. Best wishes to all those “new guys” out there.

    • LolaT RN

      I know I am 2 years late on this posting but as a new nurse with little under 3 months of experience. I found your comment to be very refreshing to know that there are still “seasoned” nurses who are there to help and don’t judge. I can honestly say I am one of those “scared to death” new nurse. I am constantly asking questions. And I mean constantly. I don’t feel like I get it and that’s the one thing this article scares me is because that’s how I feel. But that could be partly to the fact that I don’t feel or at least haven’t found that one person that I can go to for help. And I wish there were more nurses like YOU, beachbumrn. One that genuinely cares about imparting their knowledge on so that other nurses won’t sink and can be better at what they do. We need more like you!

  22. snh

    I’m currently a nursing student with a long way to go, and while my knee-jerk reaction was to take offense to the article I realised that what we’re talking about is this know-it-all personality type that does exist in every profession. But what makes it more egregious in nursing is that it’s a profession dealing in lives. So what was an annoying personality trait in a co-worker at the part-time retail job becomes “scary” in a healthcare environment because our outcomes are measured on a human, vital scale. I can absolutely see that perspective, Sean. You know, perhaps these personalities are like this because in school, and in nursing programs particularly, there is a level of reward that comes with being the one with all the answers. And maybe those nurses just haven’t picked up that it doesn’t work in a clinical setting – not at 1 or 2 years anyway. …Right now, on the nursing-experience scale, I’m working in negative numbers. However I made it a point to get myself into a volunteer position at my local hospital so that, at the very least, I could get myself familiar with the idiosyncrasies of a living, breathing healthcare environment. Being a volunteer – even in a program like mine where we have a lot of responsibility and direct patient contact – is a lot like being a fly on the wall and I pick up on a lot of things, quietly. I write down (for myself of course) behaviors and ways of practice that I admire and that *work*, and note what doesn’t work. And I’ve seen the type of behavior you’re talking about, Sean, from a couple nursing students (and by a couple, I do mean just two :) ). From my perspective it doesn’t scare me, it makes me mad. Because I see how the nursing staff react to those students and I watch as a judgement is formed. Who can say if the judgement is about that person in particular, or about nursing students in general (more likely). Either way, it affects us all coming up in the ranks because it’s so hard to hurdle judgement. …At any rate, there isn’t much to be offended by in this article. In fact, I think us new, up-and-coming nurses should read it and see opportunity because Sean has provided a window into the world we’ll be joining. Whether we like it or not, these, and other (potentially worse, by the way) judgements and opinions are going to precede us. And while we may not be that know-it-all new(ish) nurse Sean is talking about, they do exist, and they came before us and they laid down some shaky ground for the rest of us. It’s important for us to acknowledge this, I think, without offense. Right now I think our focus should be on being that excellent/anxious/fearless/question-asking/nervous/mildly terrified/check yourself before you wreck yourself (love that!) nurse.

  23. FutureNurse

    I have always enjoyed your posts, but this is the first time I’ve been compelled to comment. I am in the final semester of nursing school, and it amazes me the false confidence some people have regarding that pivotal first job. I sometimes worry that I lack the confidence needed for nursing, because quite honestly I’m afraid. Perhaps I’m more of a realist, and understand that WNL can turn into OMG in a matter of seconds. I am amazed when I hear fellow students say, “I’m getting a job in the ER, trauma unit, etc.” I have come to realize that they are mistaking their ignorance for bravery. There is a big difference between feeling excited to start your career as a nurse, and being so overly confident that something tragic happens because someone believes they already know it all. I’m going to share this post, however, the people who it applies to probably won’t recognize it.


    It is not “just you” I am in the process of monitoring a new nurse (old Cna) (which she does not like of course) who I call a long lost friend of the faucility. She is a favorite there since she has worked there before has many friends and is full of high nosed attitude.

    She never asks for help, never misses a break or lunch yet in her first month on the job has managed to complete a 33 patient med pass in record time. lol.
    My concern, she is trying so hard to remain “friends” with her old CNA buddies.Chatting and laughing as patients lights buzz on and on. i have had to monitor the med pass and the MAR for no initials and missed meds. Hearing aids are not placed in. Reminders and cuing have only gotta me blank expressions and downward looks.

    Sadly, i think the favorite new nurse will burn her self out, she will take on the role of charge nurse very soon as i see it and most likely replace me for a lower wage.

    Yes, some new nurses are great. They are appreciative of all the help they can get and are usually given the benefit of the doubt in a med error “oh well she’s new” They want to learn ways o inprove patient care and medication efficiancy not medication speed.
    So , don’t be afraid of the newbie, let her run past you let her be the super nurse in the eyes of management. She has to learn, and she will. For now I can only give her the tools she needs to do her job. If she chooses to ignore them she will find her attitude and her nose in a whole heap of (well you know).

  25. NurseGLC

    I’m a new nurse, and while I did very well in my school program, I realize I still have SO much to learn! I hope I never reach a day when I become complacent, or so confident I’m right, that I miss something subtle that could lead to a catastrophic event. My daddy taught me that the only stupid question is the one you didn’t ask, so I ask questions! Sometimes I ask myself the question first, because I realize I know the answer at least half of the time, I just need to remember I DO know the answer! After that, I ask those around me, because I would rather look stupid asking before I screw up, than look stupid fixing what I did screw up.

    Unfortunately, many of my cohort of new grads are exactly as described above and scare ME! These are the same people who made it through the program by the skin of their teeth because they thought they knew it all until it came time for the exams or competency evals and then would blame the grading techniques of the Professor or Clinical Instructors when they barely passed or failed! Seriously?? Real life is going to be a very rude awakening for many of them. Hopefully the price of their humbling doesn’t come at the expense of a patient.

  26. Jaime

    New nurses scare you? Every day when I arrive for my shift I am terrified of two things. A) That something terrible will happen to my patient and I won’t know what actions to take and B) that there won’t be a nurse on my shift that I will feel comfortable seeking help from. That’s not to say that I don’t seek help, however I should not have to be so afraid to do so. This writer is a prime example of why new nurses are sometimes afraid to seek assistance- for fear that a senior RN will roll their eyes and begin a blog post about the newbie’s incompetence. And you can’t convince me that this is a phenomenon that was not occurring as recently as 10 years ago. It’s well known that senior RN’s |eat their young”, and most anyone who has made it through nursing school has learned either from well intioned educators or through experience that sometimes you have to act a bit tough and confident otherwise you will be eaten alive. This article is a joke, and I personally am ashamed that people within my profession could be so harsh without offering a reasonable idea on how to improve the relationship between fresh and seasoned nurses.


    in response to an old post…..i am the “new nurse” you are scared of. i am 1.5 years out of graduation – too boot! i didn’t pursue my nursing career due to family (child) medical issues. i got lucky and as a bartender i got a no fail reference and was hired on at an LTAC.

    all i know is that my trainer seems to hate me/find me annoying. she is soooo nice to all other cowokers and all the ppl i encounter say “trainer” is so awesome, she will teach you so much.”

    (my left shift key isn’t working – sorry about the lowercase)

  28. Txnursing

    I am nursing faculty and I see in every class 1 or 2 students who I fear will cause “unintentional” harm to their patients due to their I know everything attitude. These students do well academically but lack being humble. They are the first to say, “look at how great I am” but never stand up and say “I made a mistake”. I pray that they learn that nursing us a calling and if you want a constant pat on the back, this may not be a profession for you. What can you do when these students breeze through nursing school but you fear what will happen to a patient one day?

  29. Mommer

    I’m currently a student. I also work as a tech. I have to agree with you. The new grads, especially the young ones have a know it all attitude. My instructor always says “know what you don’t know” and “don’t be afraid to ask”. I’ll be a new grad soon. I can assure you I can’t even pretend that I know everything. I feel like nursing school had taught me a lot but training with a seasoned nurse will teach me so much more. I’m not sure if it’s my age (I’m in my late 30’s) but I don’t care about my ego, which I think is the problem with the young ones. I care about my patients, not hurting anyone, learning, growing and compassion. I really hope if I ever develop a know it all attitude someone will put me right back in my place. It’s scary, real and very dangerous.