My Best Advice for Anxiety-Filled New Grad NPs

New grad nurse practitioner life is no joke. Even if you've worked as a nurse for many years, you're taking on a new role with significantly more responsibility as an NP. Now, you're responsible for diagnosing and creating a treatment plan, in some cases working almost autonomously. For new nurse practitioners, this can be an anxiety provoking experience. 

I had similar feelings when I graduated my NP program. Driving to work each morning, I felt totally stressed out. Would I have complex patients on my schedule that would require constantly annoying my supervising MD with questions? Would my coworkers be too busy to help me? Was I going to get behind making patients frustrated not to mention miss my own evening plans? Starting a new job is difficult and starting a new career even more so. 

So, what's a new grad nurse practitioner to do? Give yourself a break! Hands down, this is the #1 piece of advice I can give you as an NP with nearly 10 years of experience under my belt. I've felt the new grad nerves not only when I started out in my career, but also when making the transition from family practice to the emergency department. You're not alone in your nervous, anxiety-filled state. And, we all come out OK in the end. If you feel the need to rationalize taking a chill pill and giving yourself a break, here's why you rightfully deserve to do so. 

1. You're going through multiple transitions

Not only are you working in a new role as you transition to nurse practitioner life, you're probably starting a new job, too. This in itself can create raw nerves and cause stress. You're mastering a new EMR system. You're getting comfortable with new coworkers. Your new schedule has caused a shift in how you're able to prioritize relationships with friends and family. Transitions are tough. So, give yourself a break as you process them all at once. Focus on improving one issue at a time - you can't tackle all of these challenges at once. 

2. You can't possibly have learned everything you need to know in school

One benefit of NP school is that it's a pretty quick education. The drawback? NPs in training can't possibly cover everything they need to know as part of their formal education. This means on the job learning. Most employers are aware that new grad nurse practitioners will require clinical support, but in the midst of the workday this intention can be lost. It's okay to step up and say you need help. Don't be too hard on yourself when you aren't sure about something or don't have the background you need to do your job well...yet. Rather, recognize reality, be patient with yourself, and learn a little more everyday. 

3. We've all been there before

You probably feel like a pest when you're constantly asking questions of other providers. After all, they've got their own patients to see and want to get out of work on time just as badly as you do. But, they were in your shoes at one time too even if they've forgotten. Physicians completed a residency where they peppered others with questions and felt plagued with uncertainty. Experienced NPs and PAs endured that uncomfortable first year of practice where on the job learning is the name of the game. Take comfort in this fact. Not to mention, asking is better than not doing so and making a big mistake. 

So, give yourself a break new grads. Take things one step at a time. Life will get better!

 

Comments

This is 100,000,000% how I feel every single day right now, about 10 weeks in to my first NP job (although I’m only part time, so more like 5 weeks!). THANK YOU for this reassurance. Being a new grad NP is HARD. I really love it, but the anxiety and stress and second-guessing yourself is real. Things like this are very helpful.

Jen

Nurse collegiality is important always, but never more needed than during the transition to being a new NP. Thanks for writing this piece; hope new grads and those who work with them read and take notice.

Alison