As with any new job, things are overwhelming.
And I got called out on it.
Those that know me well, know that I don’t always handle stress well. I didn’t handle it so well during the simulation lab portion of my orientation to my new job. I don’t do well in sim lab; I just don’t learn that way. Despite the fact that the first day was good and exceeding all of my expectations and helped break down some of my sim lab barriers, the second day was horrible, no good, very bad. I had a bit of a breakdown.
At a staff meeting tonight, my senior manager pulled me aside and asked how things we’re going. I said that they were going well, just that I was at a point where I felt like once I gained my footing, I lost it again, and I was back to having no idea to what I was doing. She then looked at me pointedly and asked how sim lab was. I hung my head and I was honest with her. And once I relived my behavior, I realized how embarrassed and ashamed I was of my behavior and how it reflected on her, which just compounded the embarrassment and shame. I’ve made a mental note to apologize to her if she’s still in when I show up for my shift tomorrow night.
She then took the opportunity to be honest with me, she knew reading the report she received from the sim facilitators that I was overwhelmed. (A side note: I feel slightly betrayed. We were told that (not just me, but the whole group in the sim) nothing would go back to the managers.) I then cried. Clearly, I am still very overwhelmed.
The director (her boss) then asked me why I was crying. I started repeating the story to him, and he pulled out the chair next to him, patted on the seat inviting me to sit. We then sat and talked about how the first year of nursing just sucks. I’m only a month in, but yeah, I can concur.
On top of being overwhelmed, working night shift (which was my choice) is leaving me exhausted until I get a regular routine down, I feel like everything I learned in school was a lie, and I feel completely inadequate to do this job. While some of this may be irrational, it’s making it difficult for me to move on. I’m afraid that my insecurities, whether real or imagined, are going to cost me my job.
The director told me to just put on some sappy music and cry the whole way home; to just let it all out. When I did get home, I avoided going to bed because I knew once I turned off the light, I would begin crying again. I have now cried again, but I’ve also started forming an action plan. I need to be more proactive in my education now. I’m no longer learning what I need to to pass exams, I’m learning what I need to to save lives. If I don’t speak up for myself, rather than someone telling me what I need to learn, I won’t ever learn. One of the clinical managers told me this evening that she would be sure to pull me if there was anything that needed to be done skills wise regardless of whether or not it’s my patient.
I’ve also been told that more mannequins are coming (one of my biggest issues with sim lab). I’ve already started psyching myself up. It’s time to redeem myself. These mannequins are going to be the best treated mannequins ever. I am determined to change the mind of those who saw me interact with them previously. I’m going to show everyone that my senior manager and the director made a great decision when they chose to hire me. I can do this, it’s just a matter of maintaining that mentality. However, I am starting to realize that I do have a support system within my organization, even outside of my unit. Also, now’s probably not the best time to try weaning myself off the low dose SSRI…
If by any chance any other new grads are reading this, I encourage you to talk to your managers. Discover your resources. Find a seasoned nurse (or two, or three) to take you under their wings. And absolutely know that you are not treading the dark waters that is this first year of being a nurse alone.
I’m now realizing in the crazy stressful work that nurses do, I absolutely have to make time for myself. I need to have fun and relax in ways other than not putting on pants and never leaving my house. I bought a Groupon for Bikram yoga classes. I should use that. I’ve been dying to see Cinderella since they were in pre-production and I heard that Kenneth Branaugh was directing, so I should take myself to go see it. I guess, the point is, don’t wait for life to come to you, go out and live it. Even if you are working nocshift and turn into a zombie during the day. I read Becoming Nursey by Kati Kleber, and she touches on these very things. You need to have a work-life balance. I just didn’t realize that I would need one so soon into my career. It’s amazing to have that “aha!” moment when you realize that something you’ve read about is happening to you.
Tomorrow night is a new shift. It is a new chance for me to prove to myself that I made the right choice despite the director pointing out my control issues and that nursing doesn’t allow for a whole lot of control. (Yes, I like to have things they way I want them, but I think the compassionate side of me overrides that in most cases, which I why I decided to become a nurse).
I can do this, and while that sentiment hasn’t necessarily changed, I’m realizing that I don’t have to do it on my own.