I knew when I chose to work in the pods that I was choosing the toughest, most intense department in the entire hospital, something that even seasoned nurses up on the med-surg floors recognize. On the daily, I’m taking care of the least stable patients I can imagine, from strokes to major heart surgeries, and its incredibly intimidating. So much so that I worry I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.

My preceptor has been incredibly hard on me the past couple of shifts that I’ve worked with her, and although I appreciate that she’s pushing me out of my comfort zone and into a better understanding of what I’m doing, it’s still a discouraging and overwhelming. I still don’t have the experience to know exactly when someone is deteriorating – other than very obvious signs – although I can tell when something is wrong, which I guess is better than nothing; I just don’t have that nursing gut feeling yet.

But I can’t give up. I’ve put in too much time and effort to abandon this particular clinical path, and I’ve made decent progress considering where I was even a month ago. Two days ago, I was pretty much taking care of a fresh heart surgery patient (literally just came out of the OR) by myself, and I’ve gotten much better at time management. For the next several shifts, I’ll just need to pretend that my preceptor is not available because that’s when I really learn, something I figured out when a replacement preceptor just kind of … disappeared on me? That was fun.

I just need to give myself a little grace honestly, the same kind that I give to a lot of people who are still in the process of learning. But I have been taking the initiative and studying waveforms and watching videos that are ICU-related. There’s luckily a lot of information out there that’s dedicated to helping me succeed, so I guess I should just focus on getting as much experience as I can before I am completely on my own.

That’s when I’ll figure out if I’m up to snuff.

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