Question for nurses
July 7, 2015 4:27 PM   Subscribe

For all new experienced nurses- I am in my second week in hospital for clinical rotations .i am going for my BSN. I feel I want to cry- so much I need to learn, so little I know.

Now I discovered I am germofobe to.... Worry about getting hiv, hep etc

Then today I had an experience- clinical instructor told me to do a blood sugar. Did it and in the end she tells me to put everything in the gloves and toss. Stupid me, stupid me, stupid me decides that I need to put the test strip in my hands at the end and of course I felt a pinch because the strip is pointy on all 4 ends. I was wearing gloves, and I did not see any blood coming off my finger. Washed my hands but now of course I freak out. My clin instructor says I am fine because I was wearing gloves and it is not that I poked myself with a needle.

What do you think all you experienced nurses? Do you agree? Am I crazy? I need serious help I guess
posted by barexamfreak to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Yes, you are fine.

You sound so stressed out. Nursing school is rough. There is so much pressure. Are you sleeping enough and eating well and exercising? Read through my old questions. I've been there. Someday you'll look back at yourself as a student nurse and want to give her a big hug.
posted by pintapicasso at 4:43 PM on July 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

nurse here: you're fine.

agreed with pintapicasso - you'll look back on this someday with great sympathy for yourself, I promise. It's normal to feel totally overwhelmed, but you got to get enough sleep/eating/exercise/decompressing.

when you're in clinicals, I think it's really important to have good friends (or at least good school friends) you can decompress with about things. it can be so isolating sometimes, like, "am I a weirdo because that bothered me? does this happen to anyone else?". ESPECIALLY with all the "oh my god I don't know anything" feeling that you have all. the. time. it's good to know that other people are having exactly the same thing (they are, I promise), and it's good for your mental health to talk about things to people who understand what exactly it is you're doing right now.

It's good to be a germaphobe TO A CERTAIN EXTENT. It's important to be a neat freak in some ways to prevent transmission/contamination (hello c. diff!), but it's important to be able to recognize what is and is not a legit transmission concern. examples: I had a patient call me after hours (late, too) freaked out about hepatitis because she picked up some instruments after they had been run through an autoclave already. ....aagghhh. or today another person asked me if you can get AIDS from kissing.
posted by circle_b at 5:03 PM on July 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

Nurse here, too, and I agree that you are fine.
I also cried in clinicals. And over time, in elevators and offices and bathrooms and in cars on the way home. And if I think about it I can pretty much remember them all. But in 35 years I have celebrated more times, laughed more times, thrilled more times than I can count or even begin to remember. It will all balance out, so don't give up on yourself.

Take some deep breaths, you'll be ok.
posted by SLC Mom at 6:03 PM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Hey there fellow nursing student! I'm in my fourth week of BSN clinicals right now, and I am here to tell you that you can see big improvements in yourself even within two weeks. My clinical today was the first time that I felt more or less on top of my responsibilities, not scrambling to get vitals at the last minute or wandering around aimlessly unsure of what to do. You can do this.

Nursing school throws so much information at you, so quickly. You'll never know it all. It's okay to accept that, start mentally categorizing the most common things you see every day, and fill in the gaps as you go along.
posted by ActionPopulated at 6:16 PM on July 7, 2015

Another nursing student checking in! I just finished my first year of clinicals, and I'm here to say that it is always hard to start a rotation in a new setting. The first time it's SUPER hard, and then the next time it's hard again, and so on. It gets a little bit smoother over time, but it's still hard! Adjusting even just to a new unit is a big hurdle. Adjusting to your first unit... that's huge. Be kind to yourself, give yourself time to soak up all of the information and new skills that are flying at you at high speed.

And know that you're not alone--we all have our overwhelmed moments!
posted by snorkmaiden at 6:36 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am not a nurse, or nursing student, but I have a very good friend who is a nurse. His stories about clinical rotations... well, let's just say I didn't understand enough of the jargon to be able to retell them, but I remember the undercurrent of panicky stress and feeling unequal to the job. He got through it and is fine. You will too. He now tells stories about new nursing students doing their rotations and how overwhelmed and incompetent they feel. It goes with the territory.

I don't mean to minimise what you are feeling - it is incredibly difficult and the difference between what you know in theory and the actual practice is so huge that it feels like you will never be able to cope. I suspect that the germophobia is a symptom of that fear and anxiety and stress and once you get through the worst of it, it will ease off. You learn so much so fast, try to take a few minutes each day just to recognise all the stuff you DO know and did right or learnt how to do right, not just the things you feel bad about. Hang in there, it will get better.
posted by Athanassiel at 7:33 PM on July 7, 2015

Non-nurse here. As a flight paramedic I was paired for years with an R.N. whose germophophia and very-nearly-compulsive cleaning would increase predictably according to his stress level. He was a veteran of E.R. duty and army service in Viet Nam. And he still got germophobic when other things were stressful. Kind of a pressure valve.

The real point, though, is that he was an awesome flight nurse, a mentor, a friend and someone who saved a lot of lives.

Hang in there, and weather the storm, whatever it may take. It's hard, but it's do-able.
posted by wjm at 2:13 AM on July 8, 2015

Nurse here: you're totally normal, as everyone has said. Clinicals are heart-constrictingly-stressful. They will pass. Work as hard as you can. Don't slack off. Ask thoughtful questions. Help your classmates and staff nurses whenever possible. You'll live.

Just want to add: Germphobia may be normal but it can also be problematic. I've heard a lot of nurses who have the scientific knowledge to know better say stupid stuff about their fears of catching HIV in clinically impossible ways. It's important for your own sanity, but also for the people you serve, that you don't succumb to hysteria. Brush up on your reading about the real way that HIV is spread for example, so that you have accurate information. The truth is, even true needle sticks with used needles very rarely transmit HIV. (Not to say there is zero risk, but to say it's important that your sense of risk be based on science not phobia.)
posted by latkes at 8:57 AM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

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