Friday, July 8, 2011

Anxious Stomachache

Yesterday was day one of two days off in a row and I hardly ever thought about anything work related.  Actually I was more interested in relaxing and sleeping in as late as possible. 

Today was day two of two days off and I woke up with a stomachache, like a gnawing in my gut.  As I analyzed why I was feeling this way my subconscious had a conversation with my conscious and I became aware that I felt anxious because my next day to work at the hospital is on Monday and I’m not looking forward to it. 

Why you may ask?  This coveted job as a CNA should have me jumping for joy, especially as a student nurse right? 
Wrong, actually when I think of going up to my unit, I feel like I want to heave.  At first I thought my skittishness was because of how physical my job really is, but as I considered further, I concluded my uneasiness was undeniably because of my incompetency with my abilities to do my job.  No one likes to go to their job feeling like they don’t know what they’re doing.  I'm talking about just the normal things like when to do when.  For example, when is the best time to get all of my patient walks in and when it comes to morning cares do I start at one end of the hallway and work my way down to the other end, or do I jump around on my list?  Also it seems difficult at times to chart after each task I do with each patient or I get called away from my COW to help another aide or nurse with something that by the time I do chart what happens I'm thinking I forgot something.  You know the feeling of being nervous of getting yelled at for something you should have known to do, but didn't either because you were too busy or ran out of time.
I disclosed my heartfelt feelings to my husband who reassured me that I haven’t really put in a full 40 hours on my own outside of my preceptor’s shadow yet.  He also summed it up for me, in a nutshell; that the only way I’m going to ease my stomachache is to jump full force into my job.  You see, I was hired to work casual (which equals at the very least 16 hours per pay period – 2 weeks) which is about an 8 hour shift per week.  One day a week of work isn’t nearly enough experience to get a handle on this tough job as CNA.  But at the tender age of 33, I don’t produce the same energy as I use to in my 20’s therefore it seems to be taking a lot out of me each shift I work.  If I do put in more hours per week, I’m going to feel like mush by the time I get my days off.  Plus people, don’t forget, that I have my other job at the clinic that although is much easier, still takes its own toll on me in a different way.  I don’t want to give up the clinic job because at some point I’ll want to come back to this atmosphere for future job advancement, but that’s for another post.
So my question is do I pick up more shifts throughout the summer like my hubby thinks, and gain more experience and feel more comfortable and less queasy.  This in turn will take a much harder toll on my body and give me less time with my family (opposite of why I chose a casual position in the first place for goodness sakes this is my summer break, why shouldn’t I get a break?).
Or should I continue to work one shift per week at the hospital and pick up the rest of my needed hours at the clinic therefore giving me the break I need and hope eventually my anxiousness will subside with each week that passes?


  1. I felt the same way. What you might want to do is work a couple extra shifts in the next couple weeks only...then settle into your part time routine. It is nice to work a little more shifts in a row to get over the anxiety and feel more comfortable...but you don't want to be doing it all summer - sacrificing family time!

    Good luck in whatever you decide!

  2. Personally, I would continue to work just the one shift per week. As you mentioned, you deserve a break. If picking up more shifts is going to take a physical toll and reduce the time with your family, I think it's a safer bet just doing the one shift. Obviously, it's up to you. I think your anxiousness will subside either way, it might just take a bit longer with less shifts.

  3. Every single hour you spend in a hospital absorbing the form and function of patient care will only serve to make you more comfortable when it's time to flutter out on your own as a baby RN.

    Nothing you've described as personal shortcomings in your job strike me as anything on that inexperience.

    And luckily there is a cure for *that*.

  4. Personally I say, don't kill yourself all summer and then do full-time school this fall. However, I do not know your financial situation and other factors.
    I think you have a good idea of what is the right thing to do.

  5. First, what is your job at the clinic? ( Cuz I am, Second, it is not a requirement that you become a CNA in order to become an RN.

    However, that said, expect this to be the exact feeling you will have when you are thrown onto the floor as a brand new grad RN. So... its experience for you to overcome these feelings.

    The first few months are the hardest as you learn your way around, as you get into a grove and as you learn how to make priorities that will allow you to adjust your time management. You can do this in a few shifts a week. No need to kill yourself over doing it.

    With that said, First you need a good brain sheet.( You may need to make your own or has great brain sheets. The ones on the unit are usually too dang small for all the stuff newbies need to write down.) Write everything down on this brain sheet. VS, BG, I&O, BM, Shower/Bedbath etc. Make circles next to each thing based on how many things you have to do for each pt each day. Cross them off as you go. I used to do this for my med passes and dressing changes. Task lists are helpful. After you cross off a bunch, then go and chart.

    Second, you need to apply some critical thinking toward your goals for the day. Easy ones first, then harder ones. Do your walks have to be around the unit or can they be to the bathroom and back? Because right there crosses off a few tasks. If you have AM care for people that just need assist then set them all up first and go do a total care or shower. Get what the nurses need as priority done first. Vitals I assume, blood sugars if you are doing those.

    Third, you will get this. It takes time. As a new LPN I stayed a few hours extra every shift for a month to get everything completed. Do not expect that these skills will come immediately but it will come.

    Most importantly do the things that the RNs need charted first!

    You got this. Don't be so hard on yourself!

  6. CC – you’re an inspiration to me, because you’ve helped me to understand throughout your experiences stated in your blog that there is so much more to nursing than being a floor staff nurse. I have added 9 more shifts to my schedule for the next 4 weeks, so hopefully that will help with gaining more confidence but not over working myself either.

    Cathy – you’re right darn it! I do deserve a break and a long one indeed. I’m thinking like you said that it may take me a bit longer with less shifts but eventually I’ll catch on. I just don’t want to get hollered at for not doing something I should know how to do, such a worry wart I can be.

    XY - I’m absorbing so much my head feels like it’s spinning most days but thanks for reassuring me that there is a cure for inexperience.

    NPO - My hubby is the best financial hero’s I know and he keeps our family afloat is all cases, so I don’t *need* to work extra hours this summer. According to financial aid however, it would be best to put more hours in this summer to ease up on the amount of hours I need to put in this fall. You’re right; I deserve a break with my full time schedule expected of me this fall. YUCK!

    Oh Christine – what would I ever do without your detailed, much wanted advice? You help me with exact solutions to most of my problems I come up with and for that I am thankful. With these “brain sheets”, do you have a copy of one that a CNA would use? Because I looked up on but they have much more detailed ones that the RN’s use including all of the systems that I don’t technically need. I have something I follow when I’m at work that is pretty generic, but I’m thinking about taking an extra one the next time I work and tweak it a bit for my comfort. Above all else, do what the RN’s need me to do first, right?!

  7. Your co-workers will love you. I can tell by your attitude on your blog that you have what it takes to be a good nurse. The rest is just organization and that will definitely come as you work.

    As Christine says...don't be too hard on yourself! ;) You are someone I would love to work with! :)

  8. One thing that really helped me as a new-grad RN was bringing home my brain sheet after every shift and reviewing it to see how I could have organized my day differently. I would gather my sheets from a few days and tweak my organization until I figured out what worked best for me.

    I would check with other CNAs to see if they keep a brain sheet and ask to copy their format. Keep what works for you and adapt it to work for yourself.

    Christine also mentioned something helpful about charting that I almost missed. In addition to charting what others need first, there's no need to chart everything exactly when you do it. On my brain sheet, I always wrote the time something was completed rather than crossing it off. That way, I could group my charting.

    Good luck! You've already got the most important thing you need to succeed: the desire to do a good job and to be a team player!

  9. CC - Thanks so very much with your thoughts that my attitude will help me to be a great nurse. I think at this point with my disorganization that's all I have. I think I would like working with you too.

    MamaDoodle - You give me a good idea about writing down the times I get things done and going back and group charting. It's been drilled into our heads for so long to chart as you go that I don't think to group chart in a pinch when I'm overwhelmed. Thanks so much for your advice too.

  10. Do what you feel like you want to do. I would stay part time. ;0) From what I hear and understand from my family member that has been a CNA for years, there are some places where things are harder and crazier and some places that are not. Just that your willing to do this job now will only benefit you as an RN. She said it gives you the empathy for the patients and CNA's that not all RN's have. Some do just go through school and come out on the floor and they are the harder ones to work with. So I say do what you feel like you can, listen to your body. Your job as a nurse is not going to be the same and it all depends any way on the hospital or clinic you end up and the area your going to work as a nurse. Don't beat yourself up!