Nursing can be a lonely profession sometimes, even when you’re surrounded by a massive nursing community. Nurses are often their own worst critics. They have immense pressure to take care of patients without any medical errors. Burnout is a far-too-common consequence of unwanted pressure, and it can lead to feelings of isolation and a sense that “no one understands.”
Well, I’m here to share some nursing confessions that come straight from the heart to make you feel less lonely. And I’ve included a couple of my own!
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1. Serious mistakes can happen, but you’re not your mistakes.
In this nursing confession, Sheila Ramsey, a new graduate R.N. working a busy day shift, accidentally administered insulin to the wrong patient. The day was chaotic, and amidst the confusion, she failed to properly identify the patient and gave insulin to someone who wasn’t diabetic. Filled with panic, she reached out to the doctor, fearing the worst.
Surprisingly, the doctor responded calmly and instructed her to start an IV and give fluids as a precaution. The patient’s blood sugar levels stabilized, and Sheila learned a valuable lesson about the importance of not rushing medication administration. The patient later expressed gratitude for the care they received. This experience profoundly impacted Sheila’s nursing career, teaching her the significance of diligence and proper patient identification. She learned something! Mistakes teach us, and we are not our mistakes.
2. Crying in the car post-shift is something many of us do.
Crying in your car after a difficult shift is so common. You’re the only one! This nursing confession comes straight from my memory box. It was one of the toughest nursing shifts in my entire career. I worked 14-plus straight hours because of an incident that occurred at 4 a.m. I worked in labor and delivery. A patient who was 22 weeks pregnant came in because she was experiencing bleeding. Within minutes, she complained of extreme pain and before we knew it, she had birthed her two premature twins stillborn.
When I saw the babies, I became numb. A little while later, the patient’s husband came to me, begging for pain medication for his wife because she was in immense pain. His tears and the desperation in his voice broke me inside. I sobbed on my way home from work, trying to cope with everything I’d experienced. Remember, it’s OK to have feelings and to let them out – we’re human!
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3. It’s normal to feel incompetent, especially when you’re learning.
In this nurse confession, a nurse shares that she does not feel competent enough to be a nurse. These intense feelings of inadequacy are something many nurses struggle with, and they can impact patient care. This can be particularly true for new nurses who are just starting their careers. But hear me out: If you have a nursing license, you are competent! You may not have all the skills built yet for your particular role, but that’s what training and practice are for. You’ll get there, and until you do, your contributions are no less valuable.
4. Sometimes we’re afraid to speak up … but it’s important.
For a good portion of my nursing career, I’ve struggled to speak up. Nursing has taught me to do everything with purpose rather than just doing what I’m told without question. There’s a difference! In the past, if I felt like something was incorrect, I often did it anyway because I didn’t want to be seen as problematic or uncooperative. However, I eventually learned that speaking up is crucial for patient safety and integrity. So here’s my tip for you: If something seems wrong, question it! Trust your training, skills, and instincts.
5. Some nurses take shortcuts.
In this nurse confession, a nurse shared that they take a shortcut on patient charting by copying and pasting previous notes and editing them enough to be unique and relevant for that day. If you’ve tried time-savers like this, you’re not alone. We all try to find ways to make our days a little less hectic.
But this particular nursing confession is troubling, so here’s where I’m going to give you a bit of nurse-to-nurse advice: While time is of the essence, don’t take shortcuts that could impact patient care. If the nurse I mentioned in the confession above rushed through their charting and failed to edit something previously copied and pasted, the next person to view the chart could act on the wrong information. Unless the nurse is extremely careful, that time-saving trick actually makes a lot more room for error. And if you have to be hypervigilant to avoid errors, are you really saving time? Start from scratch or create different templates to apply in specific situations. It’s a much safer option.
I hope these nursing confessions helped you feel less alone and more sure of your worth. Your training, skills, and compassion are valuable, and you are enough!
Pooja Patel is a registered nurse of eight years with a master’s degree in nursing leadership. Her primary specialty is in women’s health. She has worked as a labor and delivery nurse, fertility nurse, and now a fertility nurse manager. She has also worked in corporate insurance and ambulatory care. Pooja started her wellness and lifestyle blog, Nurse Bestie, to help overwhelmed nurses conquer their stress and learn how to live a happy and healthy life. She’s passionate about being healthy and sharing all of its life-changing benefits for busy nurses.