Monday, October 26, 2009


So it's currently 05:22, and I can't sleep. I've been laying wide awake in bed since 02:00. I do love night shift, but I do not love the havoc it wreaks on my off-time snooze schedule.

Probably another reason why I can't sleep is that I had another one of those bad nights at work this week. Not where I did anything grossly wrong, but I just felt stupid all night. I even said something really, really stupid, which I will not share with you because I'm still mortified by it. I knew what I was thinking in my head and it was a coherent and correct thought; It just came out wrong and made me sound like someone who has never ever been through a single nursing class before. Ugh, just embarrassing.

But besides that, I spent the whole night feeling dumb. Bladder irrigation? Sure, I know the process in theory. Setting it up in the middle of a critical situation, however, is a different story when you've never done it before. Also worked with some critical med drips that I haven't handled before. Not so scary, except that when you have to print off the infusion chart from the computer and then track down a more experienced nurse to make sure you've mixed it right and then hang it and wait for a central line access and then try not to get in the way of the doc, trauma surgeon, six RTs, eight RNs, and three techs rotating CPR can be a little overwhelming.

Running a heart attack protocol? Easy in theory. Not easy when this is the first one I've ever run and the cardiologist is not sympathetic to my new nurse-ness. And especially not easy when there is a whole other set of symptoms not related to an MI that we're trying to figure out. I sort of wished for one of those cases where you think the guy looks funny, hook him to an EKG, and watch the machine print out the "ohh...uh oh...oh shit! those are tombstones" paper, and BOOM it's a STEMI, jam some aspirin and nitro down his maw and zoom off to the cath lab. No, I couldn't get a straightforward one like that to start with.

I guess the reason I'm feeling so down on myself is because it's been almost six months since I've been off orientation and I still sometimes wonder what I'm doing here. While I've become competent in the small things, the big things still make me think, "there's no way I'm allowed to do this!"

There is something called the Impostor Phenomenon, which is when students and newly graduated medical field professionals go through a length of time in which they feel as if there is no way they're smart enough to actually be successful; instead, they think the success is due to being in the right place at the right time, a lucky break, or convincing others that they're smarter than they appear.

I most definitely am going through this right now. I sort of feel that whenever I successfully not kill someone, it's due to the help of the charge nurse, or more experienced nurse looking out for me, or just the fact that no one realizes yet how dumb I really am inside. Eh, it's just sort of depressing to know that you're the least intelligent, least experienced, lowest on the totem pole, most useless person in the room at any given time.

One of these days, I'd like to be the nurse the people can look at and think, "excellent, Shrtstormtrooper is here, so maybe this won't be such a giant cluster."

I definitely do love my job with all my heart...I'm just wondering when I'm going to be a good nurse and not just a dumb new graduate posing as a good one.

Well - this turned out to be more of a downer than I planned!

So to end on a light note, I just checked my stat counter and saw that someone reached this blog by Google searching "Idiot reading a book."

Love it!


Love or Nothing said...

i hope you get some sleep!! miss you <3

Not Nurse Ratched said...

I really identify with this. On top of impostor syndrome I also changed jobs and specialties, so I feel like an ignorant moron even more often than usual. I too think it's a hump to get over. I keep reminding myself that everyone has to start some point I'll be past most of my "firsts."

dianamican said...

I've been a nurse for almost 2 years, and those feelings still haven't gone away. Only now I'm an impostor who precepts, too. That is something hard to wrap my mind around.

Kaley said...

Oh LP. Don't' hate on yourself. I think it's probably my fault that like four kids can't read. Also, I'm sure an offhand comment I've made will later force them into the psychotic unit to lunge at you.

UnsinkableMB said...

S -

I hate to admit it, but OR nurses go through this a lot. In the OR, you go through 5-6 months of orientation and then boom! you're in a specialty or a "service area" (ortho, neuro, gen surg, etc.). You learn your service, but then you're expected to go to other services on the days they are short staffed.

When you're in a service other than your own, sometimes stuff comes back to you from orientation. Other times you just have to suck it up and ask for help. Luckily, most people in the OR know how this works and we help each other stay afloat. I'm a rockstar in Ortho, but when it comes to Gyne and GU --- yikes!

Still, I can't avoid feeling just a little foolish.

Hang in there...

Katy said...

Just wanted to let you know that I love your blog because of the stories and your perspective. I also wanted to let you know how much I love this post because my sister is a new nurse working nights and this sounds so much like what she goes through and I am definitely passing this on to her.

shrtstormtrooper said...

Thanks everyone for the encouragement...I really do appreciate it!

Gert said...

RN for ten years...and I still am stupid sometimes!

You're doing great...try not to sweat it too much.

"Idiot reading a book" laugh all day, thanks!

Anonymous said...

I am a new grad nurse who found your blog by accident, and even though this post is a few years old it is exactly where I'm at right now! I'm the only new grad in my hospital, and 6 months in I have no one to compare my experience to. This post made me feel a lot better!