I have tremendous anxiety about going to work each day and am terrified of making mistakes. Do you have any advice?

By | 2022-02-11T11:09:39-05:00 September 18th, 2009|0 Comments


Dear Donna,

I graduated with a BSN in December 2008 and work on a med/surg floor. I moved several states away from my home to start my career. I find myself having almost a full-on anxiety attack before going to work each day. My own floor is bad enough, but my facility often “pulls” a nurse to other, unfamiliar floors – something that sends me off the deep end. Surely, this is not safe. I have to consider what is best for me, but I know it costs managers lots of money to orient new nurses. I never have had a problem with anxiety before, but now I feel terrified that I might make stupid mistakes. I am looking at other avenues of nursing but don’t want to get stuck doing something else that terrifies me. Do you have any advice?


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Becky,

You are experiencing what most new graduates go through in the early stages of their careers. Aside from feeling unprepared and overwhelmed, many new grads have set up unrealistic expectations for themselves and don’t how to find and get the help and support they need. Please read “Your First Year as Nurse – Making the Transition From Total Novice to Successful Professional,” which can be bought at www.nurse.com/ce/7010.

In the meantime, read the articles “New Grad Woes” at www.dcardillo.com/articles/newgradwoes.html and “New Grads, You Can Do It!” at www.dcardillo.com/articles/new-grads.html and take the advice in the articles.

Have you joined your state chapter of the American Nurses Association (www.ana.org)? Have you reached out to any former instructors for advice and support? Are you staying in touch with your former classmates to give you a sense of perspective? What steps are you taking to manage your stress? Don’t try to go it alone and figure everything out on your own. That’s a recipe for failure. Also read “Lean on Me” at www.dcardillo.com/articles/leanonme.html.

The job market is tight in many parts of the country, so understand that if you leave this position you might have trouble finding another one. That doesn’t mean you necessarily should stay in a position that is not right for you, but it does mean you need to get some advice and support from others before making a move.

My best wishes,


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