Q&A | Nursing
I recently asked you guys to send me some questions you’ve been wanting me to answer, and you guys sure delivered! I split up the questions into 2 blog posts: one for nursing and one for lifestyle. So if you’re interested in reading the lifestyle Q&A post, head over here.
Let’s get started!
1. How do you deal with anxiety about work?
I think the proper way to go about this is to recognize what is making you anxious in the first place. Is it because you’re on orientation? Is it because you just got off of orientation? Is it because you don’t know some things you should know? Is it because you made a mistake at work? Is it because of your coworkers? I think it’s important to figure this out and act upon it. For example, if you’re feeling anxious because you don’t know something, the best way to go about it is to ask questions, do your research, and learn it! If you’re feeling anxious because you’re in the middle of orientation or just got off, then I think it’s a normal feeling.
For me personally, I feel a lot of anxiety about work because in Labor & Delivery, there’s just so much that can happen and you have no idea what will happen in a shift. I also get anxious about possibly making a mistake but it helps to remind myself that we just can’t do everything perfectly. We are human and it’s unfair to ourselves to have these unrealistic expectations. Yes, it is of the utmost importance to keep the safety of our patients as our main priority, but it’s also easy to feel pressured to give a med exactly when it’s due, or chart everything perfectly because of the expectations we set for ourselves but also by management. But it’s not possible to be perfect all the time. And that’s ok! Show yourself some grace.
2. How do you deal with new grad nurse blues?
I feel like this is a topic that no one really talks about. New grad nurse blues are so real. I mean, it’s all exciting at first, but there’s definitely a looming sadness at the same time. I think there are many different reasons that we may feel this way, but some of the reasons I can name off the top of my head are that our work schedules are rough, especially on nights. Our circadian rhythm is messed up and our 4 days off really equate to 2-ish days off because we have to transition back to a normal sleep schedule.
Another reason is that no one really understands our struggles. I can definitely attest to this because I feel as if only my coworkers and other nurses really understand what we go through at work, such as how emotionally taxing it can be to handle the wave of emotions that come with emergent situations, sometimes death, grief, etc and the pressure to do everything perfectly. Caleb is amazing and he tries to listen as much as he can and comfort me, but I know it’s hard for him, too because he doesn’t fully understand what goes on at work, which can further my frustrations because it makes me feel more alone.
I think another reason we feel these new grad nurse blues is because we want to be great! Now! But we can’t! So it can be depressing in that we know we have more time ahead of us to learn more and experience more to develop certain skills and intuition. I’m sure there are way more reasons we may feel this way, but I think it can be healthy to feel these emotions of sadness because it just means we’re human. And 99% of the time, we are not alone in feeling this.
It helps me to truly leave work at work and vent just once about work outside of work, whether this be to my mom or another coworker, or Caleb or a journal or your therapist. I believe that you shouldn’t have to just hold everything in. Saying what you want to say is freeing and healthy. Once I vent once and it get off my chest, it helps me put it behind me and move on. Another thing that is helpful is to connect with people who get you, and in this case, it’s your fellow nurses. Get a drink, get together for brunch, or go to the pool together. It really helps to know that you’re not along in feeling this way. Finally, find a hobby that can help you shift your focus on something non-work related. For me, it’s my blog and business and exercise!
3. What are the pros/cons of working as a Labor & Delivery nurse?
It’s generally a happy place. Deliveries are exciting and emotional
Teamwork is essential and it makes a huge difference
There are so many different parts of nursing in L&D: triage, labor, OR, PACU, bereavement, so you’re always learning something new
This can be a pro or con, but you work with a majority of women! It can be empowering!
You never know where exactly you’ll be on the unit so this mystery factory can be exciting for some
Deliveries can be stressful and emotionally taxing
Emergencies happen all the time, sometimes with no real foreshadowing
It can feel overwhelming with the amount of roles you’re expected to take and the amount of information you’re expected to know
If you’re on the labor side, watching fetal heart strips for 12 hours at a time and charting on it can get tiring
This can be a pro or con, but you work with a majority of women! It can get catty and there can be unnecessary drama
You never know where exactly on the unit you’ll be working, so this “unknown” can be anxiety-inducing: Will I be in the OR tonight? PACU? Doing vaginal deliveries? Will I be involved in a stillborn delivery and bereavement care? Will I be doing 23947 admissions in a shift?
4. Does clinical get any less terrifying?
Yes. But barely, because remember: you’re not expected to become just like a nurse in your clinicals. I think the terrifying factor comes from feeling like we don’t know what we’re doing. But you’re not expected to know everything and be a nurse. You’re expected to learn and be a student. It gets less terrifying when you realize that you should ask questions, and it’s normal to feel scared and nervous. It’s way different than lectures because you’re seeing real patients and real cases.
5. What was your hardest time through nursing school and how did you overcome it?
My hardest time was probably my 2nd year, dealing with acute care management of adults, and also practicum and research. The workload was immense, and I was also working as a tech on postpartum, and also in a long distance relationship. It was just a lot to take on in terms of academics, but also personal life. I don’t have much advice on overcoming it besides the fact that this, too shall pass. It all passes. And you survive. Even though you feel like you’re drowning and dying and it sucks. It passes, day by day, one bite at a time.
6. Do you recommend purchasing textbooks, renting, or purchasing ebooks?
I rented textbooks, bought them cheap on Amazon and also had ebooks. I think it really depends on the class and how you’ll be expected to use the book. For example, I was required to buy an eBook for most of my classes because it included an online learning portion that would make up a majority of my assignments (PrepU), and that meant that I didn’t need to buy a physical hard copy of the book. However, I know a lot of my classmates purchased the hard copy, too, because they had a hard time staring at a laptop all the time. It all depends on you and how you learn.
7. How do you figure out the feel of a unit you haven’t been to?
It comes with time. You’re not gonna know everything about everyone/everything that first day. You have to have your own experiences and ask questions and this all comes with time.
8. Starting a new grad program soon and was wondering how you prepared?
I had the option to work as an extern/tech on the unit before my residency started, so I did so that I could get a lay of the land and learn the small stuff, like where the bathrooms are, who my coworkers are, aka the general stuff. This took away any extra stress on top of learning during my residency. I learned that I love the OR and I’m good at it. I learned that deliveries can quickly go awry. I learned that emergencies happen all the time but there are also some shifts where I won’t see anything “exciting.” I learned who I like working with and who I don’t like working with. If this is an option for you, I highly recommend taking it. I feel like it really prepared me. If it’s not an option, it’s not the end of the world. Enjoy your time off, decompress after boards and go to the beach or spend time with friend and family!
9. How did you decide on what specialty you wanted to pursue?
My mom’s fertility story. She experienced infertility, several miscarriages, an ectopic pregnancy, and then me! Her miracle child! I knew that I wanted to help women like my mom. I also had an amazing mentor in nursing school who was my clinical instructor for all 2 years thanks to a special program that my nursing school created for a select group of students which I was honored to be a part of. She truly changed my life and I wanted to be just like her.
10. What made you choose nursing?
I’ve shared this before, but I thought I wanted to be an OBGYN. But realistically, I knew I was pursuing it for the wrong reasons. So I transferred to a college where I knew there was a nursing program and I went for it because I still wanted to help people and be involved in some of the most intimate moments of peoples’ lives and make a difference in the world. I chose nursing because I saw firsthand the impact of good (and bad) healthcare on my mom’s fertility and when my mom had her ectopic pregnancy, and 5 year old me was in the hospital with her and the nurses took care of me and explained to me what was happening, I knew I wanted to be just like them. I chose nursing because it lets me put my life on hold for 12 hours at a time, to forget about my own selfish desires and my problems, and serve someone else. And it is exhausting but I love it.
Thank you guys so much for sending your questions! If you guys have any more, feel free to DM me to comment them down below!