Stevie's EN diary: New, again


Stevie’s new grad enrolled nurse diary continues.

You know what sucks? Being new, again. I have recently moved from one ward to another as part of the graduate program I am on and quite frankly, it sucks.

I don’t like change. But let’s be honest, what nurse likes change? It’s not part of our makeup. What nurse jumps up and down and goes ‘Yes! A new way of doing things! A new form! This is the best day ever!’ Nah. That ain’t ever gonna happen.

I was happy on my last ward. I stepped onto that ward the first time and it felt like home. It was home for six months. I did take a while to ‘get it’ and find my feet, but I found my feet and now the rug has been taken out from under me and I am back to feeling like I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. I feel useless and a pain in the arse to my workmates because I am just not coping with my workload.


I have levelled up. This is endurance nursing. It feels like there is nothing subtle or nuanced about this type of nursing. I am simply clinging on with everything I have until it’s home time (usually a good half hour past home time by the time I leave), then I berate myself in the car for everything I didn’t do right or simply didn’t get the time to do. Self reflection is not a problem for me. I go over everything I do. All. The. Time. I am my harshest critic.

Today was the first time in three weeks I actually got everything I needed to do done by the time I left. It was also the first time I left when my shift actually ended. And that was with two out of four patients not needing a shower or a clean bed.


I hate feeling useless. I hate being so dependent on other people. They are very nice about it but we ‘team nurse’ on this ward and I just feel I make so much more work for them.

I used to be good at this. Everything is new. I hate new. I don’t know the people. I’m not used to ‘team nursing’. On my old ward we team nursed without calling it ‘team nursing’. Here, it feels like an excuse to work short and outside the normal ratio.

I don’t know the specialty. I don’t know how to time manage my day. I don’t know the doctors. I don’t know where anything bloody is. I don’t know anything. I feel like the last six months of hard work counted for nothing.

I know it gets better. I know in my heart of hearts, very deep down, that it will get better, but right now it’s hard. It’s just hard. And we don’t talk about how hard it can be. We put on a smile and say ‘I’m fine’. When really the truth is you’re not fine.

blurry nurse

Grad year is probably supposed to be hard, yet some people float through it seemingly without a care in the world. The word ‘seemingly’ is important because I think that being honest is critical, yet I don’t think we are honest enough with each other. That’s why I write this. If one person reads what I write and thinks to themselves ‘Yes, that’s it! That’s how I feel!’ then it’s worth me going through this.

I am told I’m going to be an exceptional nurse. I don’t see this myself. I can’t let myself believe it. My patients call me Sunshine and Happy and Smiler and Angel. And I feel like none of those things. It’s all just a really good act.

I ask myself over and over in my head if I am a good nurse. If I should be allowed near a patient at all. If what I do is ever going to be enough. You start grad year and you want to change the world and make a difference and do good. Now I just want to do good for one person at a time. If I can be part of someone else’s story and make things just that little bit better for them, that’s enough. It has to be enough.

Previously in Stevie’s EN diary:

It’s that time of the year

Ebola – in PPE we trust

Not ‘just’ an enrolled nurse

Popping my nursing cherry



  1. Stevie, I feel like you have just described first year on nursing (and I just finished my grad year). There were plenty of times I wanted to scream ‘what about me and how I’m feeling’. Naturally I give people the impression that I’m fine but so many times I just wanted someone to ask how I really was. It’s hard! I’m an RN and I don’t think that really makes much of a difference just that all new nurses are going through the same feelings.
    New work places are hard. New protocols, new people, new place. It. Is. Hard. In any workplace that is hard. All you can do is know your confidence and your boundaries and ask for help in every other area. Hang on there. You certainly are not alone! Jen

  2. Yes, yes have felt exactly this way. Hate being the new kid on the block. Hats off to casual staff, I just couldn’t do it

  3. Hey Stevie, dont feel bad, I have been nursing since the 80s, but have just started at 2 new hospitals … different state, one private, one public. So much new stuff, new paperwork and new people. It doesn’t get any easier, but somehow you learn how to cope. The fact that you care makes me feel that you are a fabulous nurse, so hang in there and keep smiling 🙂

  4. Stevie I have been an RN now for 20 something years and I can still very clearly remember my new graduate year and how hideous it was. I have never figured out why we still do this to our young. Then if you do a critical care or other specialty year it is more of the same. It isn’t forever is the only advice I have ever had to give. Stay strong.

  5. This is exactly how I feel.
    Since I qualified in 2010 I am currently in my 3rd post and due to a closure of my last unit I am now in a completely different field of nursing – I am a general nurse in a mental health ward for older people.
    Everything you describe is what I am experiencing.

  6. Hi Stevie
    I have just stumbled onto this post. Bit late but better than never.
    I am an EN student in my final Semester facing the 3 hour Acute exam, final drug calc test, 5 week placement and scenario based practicums. I’m reasonably confident at getting through it but doubt is always in the back of my mind.
    I believe a good nurse should always have a level of doubt because after all we are dealing with peoples lives. In your case, being fortunate and privileged enough to have landed a grad program should be testament to your ability and potential as a quality nurse. Those grad programs don’t grow on trees. They are not offered to just any graduate. Remember that and remember that you should be supported and guided as a graduate nurse.
    My biggest fear is NOT getting a job, casual pool, part-time, full-time, contract or what ever. A grade program is my holey grail and ultimate goal. What a compliment that would be for all the hard work I have put in. I’m confident I will be a good nurse, I just hope I get the opportunity to prove it!
    Your attitude, ability to reflect, self awareness and humble nature demonstrate, to me, that you are already a good nurse. Congratulations and all the best on your nursing journey.

  7. Wow, thanks Stevie, you just reinforced exactly how I’m feeling. I am up to my sixth shift since orientation and about to do my first night shift. I am trying to really stay in the moment and triple check myself. All staff have been supportive and they answer my thousands of questions. We are not alone, from reading the above comments. Thanks for your blog and thanks to those who have commented. All the best to you. I only got my registration in Jan as well. Every shift helps us learn more. People are complex so are their needs, we just need to do the best we can and use the experienced staff around us. Cheers


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