The Most Common Question New Nurses Ask

NursingMarch 31, 2022

When Denver College of Nursing graduate Jacqueline Albertson, RN, was a new nurse in 2019, she wondered when she’d feel more confident in her role. When she became a nurse keeper, which is a nursing mentor, she realized other new nurses had the same concerns and felt the same way.

“The biggest thing I get asked all the time is, ‘When am I going to stop feeling stupid, and stop being scared coming to work?’” she says. “I usually say, ‘You're never going to stop feeling that anxiety when you come into work or when there's a real situation going on. That [feeling] is you as a human being. That's okay. Once that goes away, you're probably experiencing burnout.’”

Albertson says she encourages new nurses to push through those doubts. “You're not stupid,” she says. “We all had a path to get to where we're at. Information changes every day. Reading up on things can help alleviate those feelings of vulnerability. It comes down to time and practice, and you'll eventually get more comfortable.” 

Albertson encourages new nurses to tap into their intuition. “If you feel something's not right, go with your gut,” she says. “It doesn't always have to be in your textbook. I see nurses go back and reference their textbooks. I’m all for reading up on evidence-based practice—I’m always doing that—but if something seems wrong, go with your gut feeling. And ask for help.”

Every human is different, and one solution may not be right for everyone. “It's called a practice for a reason,” says Albertson. 

And keep asking for help. “I’ve seen a paradigm shift with the pandemic,” she says. “We're starting to become more open; it's not as scary to express yourself. It’s okay to say, ‘I don't feel comfortable with this. Teach me.’ You're going to learn to do better so just put it out there. I want our new nurses to keep speaking up. There's always a little bit of fear; it's understandable. Take it easy on yourself and express yourself. I wish I had done that when I started out.” 

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