Feeling stupid as New Rn


I’m a new grad, 6 months in CCU so far. Last night I did something so stupid I feel like I want to crawl in a hole and not come out to face anyone at work for months. We just did shift change and I was in assessing my vented patient. He was completely stable, good pressure and pulse. Family was minutes away to sign the papers to switched to palliative care. I realized his pupils were pinpoint and nonreactive. I checked them several times then decided I should let the doctor know before family arrived. In comes the resident and 2 interns. I began to say to them I just wanted to let you know his pupils are no relative and he is Not responsive to painful stimuli. And then I say “so do you want to call it?” I didn’t even realize I said it until the intern listened to his heart and said he had a pulse. Then I kinda felt this weird out of body experience like did I really just say that out loud. We all left the room and a few minutes later I stepped back into the residents office and said something like I want to addend the earlier comment, I don’t know what I was saying, I knew he had a pulse and didn’t mean to say that. But I cannot shake the feeling of being a complete idiot. I’m afraid they will tell other doctors and nurses and everyone will think I am as incompetent as I feel. Any advice on what to do?


Everyone makes mistakes, even if you didn’t this time or you did, don’t take this too much to heart.
Relax, it’ll blow over.

You just started and CCU is not an easy unit, give it time.


I totally know how you feel I have been a nurse for 8 months and literally cried today because sometimes I just feel so overwhelmed


It must have been a humiliating experience. I do know that worse medical errors or blunders occur, but the best thing you can do is to learn from such experiences. I believe you have served clients better before, so that one awkward moment should not change that reputation. I invite you here to see how we may work together in your future professional career development as a nurse.


Do not beat yourself up, we have all done the same thing. I know that I have continued to say the wrong thing at times and I have been an RN for over 40 years. No one will remember in the end. Chin up, kiddo.


I’ve felt similar feelings when I started out. It’s one thing to make a mistake and be corrected and learn from it, but it’s another when you feel “belittled” as a whole by an error.

So nurses…lets work together to avoid the following:

"Did you not realize _______ "
“I explained this to you already”
“Did you not hear me when _____”
“What was your rational for _________” (when you already know you have made an error)
Or " insert worst possible outcome to error here

Basically…anything that questions abilities as a nurse in general or anything that instills fear should be avoided… Instead we could relate to each other more. The nurses that helped me learn the most were nurses that RELATED to me and told me about their errors! The ones who put their pride in their back pocket and showed me their humanness. They would tell me about their real life lessons, their mistakes, their successes, the consequences, the rewards, all of the things and I was able to learn from all of these things. This puts value into both…past experiences and a learning opportunity. I personally, cannot learn, if I feel discouraged. I learn best when I am being encouraged to learn.

Also might I add…when an experienced nurse relates to me, it gives me hope and encourages me to work harder toward getting to where they are. Confidence with skills takes time. It’s SO important that new nurses feel comfortable in their learning environment so they can learn from the experienced nurses. Experienced nurses…you have SO much value…take this as a big responsibility, us new nurses look up to you and yes, you can crush some of us if you’re not careful…we’re all people…who want to help people. So lets start by helping each other.



This may sound silly but take notes. Get a little notebook and jot down the info and review it as needed to jog your memory. This method has helped me in various jobs I have had.


I personally do not see what you did wrong. You mentioned that there was no pulse, but everyone was in the room looking at the patient and the monitor has all of the vital signs… They may not have even heard you. Even if you documented that there was no pulse, you would not be at fault since you did what you were supposed to- documented your findings-… If there was a pulse, and you were incorrect, then you would have to go back and addend your notes. The patient suffered no harm and all of the staff were in the room to help the patient, so I would say that you just had a slip of the tongue. It is not like you gave a medication or began to shock the patient. LOL… It’s okay, relax a bit.



I have been a nurse for a year, and I still feel so stupid all the time. I think we are so hard on ourselves because unlike most jobs, ours directly impact that people could be killed. We have direct impact on their lives and that’s so scary. So just know you wont make that mistake again and you will be better next time.

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