How to decrease shift anxiety as a nurse

January 11, 2019

Just because you love nursing and know in your soul that it is the only place for you does not mean that you will not face fear and anxiety over your decision.

Nurisng school was the easy part. Sure, I had anxiety before going to clinical but I was more excited to learn and take it all in. I would daydream of the day when I was the nurse caring for patients.

Then I got my first job and once again I was excited, but I was not prepared for the overwhelming amount of time that I spent hating going to work. There were many days that I would arrive early to work and just sit in my car and cry. I also may have called out sick a time or two because my emotions were uncontrollable. I kept thinking how could I dread something so much but love it at the same time.

I was feeling completely isolated at work being the newest new hire and too scared to ask anyone if this was normal in fears of being told to find a different career. So I kept it in and eventually, it faded away as I began to get more experience under my belt. (maybe after a year of nursing)

When I was studying for my OCN certification I came across this chart that perfectly described the stages I went through as a new grad and knew I just had to share it! It is a chart that describes three stages in a professional role transition:
STAGE 1// Doing

This is the initial point where you are on orientation and trying to learn how to be a nurse. Your perception of what nursing is from nursing school is more idealistic than realistic. Typically this stage is intense and you will have a wide range of emotions as you are discovering what your new role actually is. You will have self-doubt as you learn new skills and recognize your own limitations. 

STAGE 2// Being

The next stage of being also contains intense emotions, but you are slowly beginning to increase your knowledge base and problem-solving skills. It is at this point that your fear of failing is overcome by a renewed confidence to commit yourself to your practice as you begin to master more skills.

STAGE 3// Knowing

The final stage comes as you meet your one year. In the knowing stage, you achieve a sense of comfort as you step into your role with confidence. You are no longer constantly asking questions but instead can start to answer them. It is only from here on out that you continue to develop. 

After my transition, I wanted to make sure it was easier for others to decrease shift anxiety so I came up with some simple tips. Enjoy!

ONE// Arrive to work a few minutes earlier. Many hospitals do not allow you to be in patient's chart prior to clocking in, but this period of time should be for you to dance in your car to music, or simply finish your coffee (or hot cocoa). This is where you clear your mind and let all your negative thoughts leave you. Try to walk into work with confidence!

Create a nursing brain book. This is where you will keep all your most common items needed for the unit. It is also a place where you can write/organize things in your own way so that they work for you! Essentially it is a handbook full of knowledge. I will be sharing mine in an upcoming post, but it really helped ease my nerves when I came across a chemotherapy drug that I have not given in awhile!

THREE// Make yourself a car kit. Use a small pencil pouch and put spares of your work essentials in it: chapstick, pen, report sheet, bandage scissors, etc. This kit then becomes your emergency kit in case you show up to work without your supplies or were running late out the door. Forget your stethoscope? Use an isolation scope for the day.

FOUR// Keep your badge in the same spot every single day. There is nothing worse than arriving to work without your badge. (Some hospitals will not even allow you to be on the floor without it.) I don’t suggest keeping it in your car; There might be a day where your car is in the shop or someone breaks in. I keep my badge hanging by my keys at home and it works great. If you do not need your badge to get into certain doors before work, then you can also leave it in your locker.

FIVE// This last tip is really for after your shift, but keep a notebook in your car where you can write down all the good and bad that happened from that shift. After you write it down, forget about it! Do not let things bug you for longer than they need to. By writing it down and letting it go you are setting yourself up for success for the next shift. I use the notes app on the iPhone.

I hope you are able to incorporate some of these items to help ease your mind. Let me know what works for you!


Wearing: Maevn Uniforms EON line in Hot Pink


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