A note to all nursing students

When I look around at all my classmates, I feel like I am the only one
who has no idea what I am doing. I feel like a phony- that at any
minute, someone is going to realize that I don’t have a clue. How can
everyone else be so confident? Why don’t they all make stupid mistakes,
like turning on the feeding tube without attaching it to the patient
first, or putting diapers on backwards? Well, after talking to a few of
my friends in the class, I realized that I am far from being the only
one who feels this way. They actually thought I was one of the
confident ones who knew exactly what I was doing. Ha! I gave them the
link to my site, and they said it really made them feel better to see
that we all make extremely stupid mistakes. So, if you are in nursing
school (or any school) and you feel like you are far behind everyone
else, just relax. You probably are doing just fine. Talk to those
around you, and I am sure you will find out that you are not alone!!
Good luck, and I hope my numerous misfortunes at least make you feel a little bit better about yourself!
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19 thoughts on “A note to all nursing students

  1. Katie, we ALL make mistakes. Just yesterday, I was getting ready to give my son a bath…Well, let\’s just say this : NEVER let a child walk around without a diaper for any length of time! WOW! That was a LOT of urine I had to clean up! I knew better, I just wasn\’t paying attention.Thank goodness my sister has TILE FLOORS!!!

  2. I have a theory that everyone in every job is just like this. Basically clueless for a long time, feeling like a fraud. Maybe I just tell this to myself so that I can have higher self-esteem??I also think that some people (definitely me, and it sounds like you) think about life more, think about our mistakes, kind of obsess over them. Other people (my mom, my hubby) just plow through life never really psychoanalizing anything and not letting screw ups bother them. They tend to appear much more confident and not so neurotic!On the other hand, you are just starting out. Ten years from now you will have done each task so many times, you could probably do them with your eyes closed! Hang in there!

  3. I went through an accelerated nursing program a couple of years ago–lots of fun. For the most part no one knows whats going on. The good news is you\’ll get plenty of experience shortly, like once you start working

  4. You are definitely not alone in your feelings of "putting on a front". Why do you think they call it a "BS" degree? LOL Just kidding. That is an old joke from my nursing school days many "eons" ago. After 27 years of nursing ,with most of it being in the Maternal/Child area of nursing, I still feel like I am winging it. The reason nurses do this is to put our patients at ease with our abilities to care for them. In reality, no matter how long yopu have been in nursing, you will never know it all. Your colleagues( and \’ Lippincot\’s Manual of Nursing\’ ) will always be your "wingman"…your resource when in doubt. As time goes by, you will become more comfortable with your limitations and better at demonstrating confidence. Good luck. I\’m sure you will do fine.

  5. Am going into my final semester of nursing school. The best advice I ever got was from a fellow student on the first day of clinicals…. fake it til you make it

  6. I have been an ICU nurse for 18 years and was a supervisor of a large ICU and an educator for this unit for 10 years and I still feel dumb on somedays. I just laugh at some of the things I do like walking into a glass door in front of my patient" Housekeeping is great here" and make a joke. People appreciate that you are human and laughter is the best medicine. Also, try to identify resources where you work in experienced nurses and MD\’s. We would rather someone ask a question than to be afraid to ask and hurt a patient. Also, this is how you learn. I always tell my students that it takes about a year for you to feel comfortable especially in our area and then when you actually know what you are doing then you are really scared!

  7. I\’ve been a nurse for 4 years now and trust me…no one knows what they are doing in nursing school!! It\’s all a mind game…like if you show a moment of weakness you\’ll fail! Everyone goes through it. I still have days where I do things that make me feel "dumb" and I just laugh and look at it as a reminder that I\’m still human. (I too have put the diaper on backwards by the way) Good luck to you and know that you are going into a very rewarding and honorable career! I LOVE it!!

  8. Hello!! I`m a nursing student from Sweden. I think you have a point there, i feel just like you. I think of the day when i am going to work instead of going to school…. Oh no, i wonder if i`m going to make it? I hope we do anyway!!!! Good luck with your studies, hang in there/ Titti

  9. I am also a nursing student and I love reading all you experiences since they are very similarto mine. I love the "fake it to ya make it "comment. It\’s true if your show that you have weakness to your teachers they seem to eat you alive. I too have put many diapers/briefs on backwards too.and have to say "oh sorry mr/ms It\’s going to be just a second longer the brief seems to be malfunctioning. too funny!

  10. I am so glad I read this! I\’m a nursing student too, in Ohio, and just finishing my first semester. I know that almost every one of my classmates feels the same way! And here we all thought it was just us, just our program, etc…Good luck to you in your education!

  11. I am a student nurse scheduled to graduate in a week. You would think that being in my last term that I wouuld be able to deal with things smoothly. The other day I went in to a patients room to get vitals. I could not figure out why I could not get an O2 sat. Ends up that the patient was missing the tip of her finger. I felt like such an idiot.

  12. Hi Katie! I just saw your space, and love it. I too am a student nurse, in a 2 yr ADN program, and yahoo! I finally made it, my pinning cweremony is next week. As I watch the new students, I remember what is was like our first semsester in the program…Labs where we had to show our abilities in things like taking vital signs. We were so nervous, but now it is like second nature. You will get that way too. I was especially touched by your "favorite clown" entry. I had tho opportunity to be in ICU a couple of weeks ago with a pt who was brain dead and the family was talking about organ donation. Just to be there and let the daughter talk about her father was very emotional. The preceptor nurse told me when we left the room (I think she saw my teay eyes), "Don\’t let one nurse on this unit tell you they\’ve never cried." I wish you the best in your career.

  13. Yes its true that nurses dont always know what the heck were doing at times; I have been a nurse for about 6 years now and have found that some nurses are better than others at learning, retaining, and applying their knowledge than others for sure. some days its very scary to realize how little one of your colleages actually knows! Then you start to doubt yourself and wonder, \’do I really know or have a become a master at faking this?\’ then your mind wont let you accept that your completely incompetent because your not but somethings and some days you are truely winging a situation or a conversation and you can congraulate yourself at getting though it. One last thing, jump at the oppertunities that allow you to gain valuable knowledge, even if your scared about it, or nervous that you\’ll get it wrong or that youve never done it before etc. because exposure and continually learning is what makes you well rounded and seasoned!

  14. Oy, vey…of course you\’re going to feel clueless. Nursing school is hard! One day in clinicals, I broke one of the cardinal rules and did not closely examine the label on a vial of what I thought was saline flush. Turned out to be heparin!! I had a few hours of sweating and prayer before figuring out the patient had been given a safe dose. You\’ll find that once you get out into the field after graduation, it gets alot better….especially when you find a field you really enjoy.

  15. I, too, am in nursing school. Your blog is right on the money!Thanks for sharing. I think we all feel the same way. Except the face for suppositories – mine is worse than that!You forgot the squished up face when cleaning C Diff feces. Is that not the worse smell in the world????????

  16. I\’m about to start my last semester of nursing school. I hope to get my CRNA license someday. Anyway, you\’re not an idiot. It\’s hard not to mess up when you are constantly bombarded with information, and expected to know everything by instructors that have a "Nazi-like" enthusiasm for perfection. I was told something one time that made a lot of sense to me. I think it applies to nursing school too. It goes like this,"When a person knows everything, they become good for nothing." So, you should be more scared of the nurses who know everything than the ones who know it all.

  17. Honey, i have been a nurse for 5 months and i still feel like a fraud. I still don\’t know what i am doing most of the time. But i\’m learning!

  18. Thank you so much! I am a student nurse currently in my final term and preparing to qualify. At times I still feel completely unprepared and scared anticipating the day I start my first job – it’s great to hear I’m not the only one to feel this way, and that other people make daft mistakes too!

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