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How can I stop feeling so overwhelmed at work?


Dear Donna,

I have been a nurse for the past year. I graduated in May 2007, and I’ve been working in a med/surg unit since August 2007. How can I stop feeling so overwhelmed at work? The most challenging thing for me is getting new admissions and transfers within a half hour of when I’ve discharged another patient. Nurse patient ratio is 6:1. Sometimes I feel like I am getting more new patients than anyone else. How can I be polite and diplomatic at work regarding patient assignments? The charge nurses provide very little help. Is there a way staff nurses can limit the nurse patient ratio? Please give me some advice. I feel frustrated. I was almost in tears and about to quit my job yesterday.


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Pratima,

It is challenging to respond to your questions without knowing the entire situation. Have you sought out friendly, competent nurses in your unit (there has to be at least one) to guide and support you as opposed to staying isolated? Have you joined and gotten active in your state nurses association? You must immerse yourself in the community of nursing and form a local support system. Have you contacted your former instructors and fellow students to compare notes and get their advice and support? Have you spoken to your manager for some advice and help?

If you haven’t already, please read my book Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition From Total Novice to Successful Professional . Also read “New Grad Woes” at and “Lean on Me” at

Don’t try to go it alone or figure things out on your own. Take the suggestions above and the advice in the above-referenced articles and books and move forward.

My best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nursing Spectrum/NurseWeek’s “Dear Donna” and author of Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional and The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career. Information about the books is available at and, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call (800) 866-0919 or visit


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By | 2008-09-24T00:00:00-04:00 September 24th, 2008|Categories: Blogs, Nursing Careers and Jobs|0 Comments

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