Stress be gone: Dealing with “New Nurse Stress”


After years of struggling and studying, Liza is now living her dream. She is now, finally and officially, a Registered Nurse. She has long waited for this moment to arrive, for this dream to come true. However, she has just started working at the hospital for about a month when she realizes that her dream is becoming a nightmare. A month in the clinical area and she is unbelievably and frustratingly stressed. She is now starting to doubt herself. Is this what she really wants? Was she really born to become a nurse? If yes, why is she feeling this awful feeling? How will it go away? As a newbie nurse, how will she be able to deal with her so-called stress?

Hang in there

Yes, the first month may seem a bit overwhelming. One day you’re ecstatic that you’re finally starting  the job you have aspired for years, the next day you’re dealing with a whole new bunch of people. Then there’s all this “time to apply everything I have learned in nursing school to the clinicals”. Suddenly, you have a lot on your plate and you just do not know what to do.

Just hang in there, everything may seem a bit too much at first, but eventually, you’ll get through. Slowly, you will be able to adapt to the new environment and begin to embrace the profession as it is. Just wait for that moment.

Don’t give up

There will be a lot of “I can’t take it anymore, I give up” moments. Do not be tempted. Remember why you started in the first place. Let that be your motivation to push through whatever difficulty in this new job you are experiencing right now. Let it make you better, and not a quitter. Remember, you’ve invested so much for this. Don’t waste them.

Take a deep breath

Okay, dizzy dizzy dizzy. Nope. With all these new changes, you might feel a bit culture shocked. You no longer have your clinical instructor to tell you what to do, there’s so much to learn, and oh, what are all these equipment? There’s just so much to absorb. However, do not let it get to you. Take a deep breath to clear your head a bit. Relax, do not panic. Take in the scenario slowly. Analyze what appropriate moves you should take.


Again, so much to absorb. No matter how much you have studied in nursing school, there will always be at least one thing in the clinicals that would surprise you. Do not wait for this time to come, instead, review while you can. Read. Read. Read. Learning does not end upon passing the board. In fact, learning is a lifelong process when you’re a nurse.

Let it go

You might feel like you don’t know anything for a few weeks when starting the job. You might commit a few mistakes and may even feel guilty about it. You think about it for days, thinking that your co-workers might view you as clueless and incompetent. You might probably end up questioning your skills and battling with your confidence level. But remember, you are not alone. Every nurse was a new nurse at some point. Instead of dwelling on your mistakes, take them as part of your experience learn from them instead.

Make new friends

Get to know your workmates, try to build rapport, make some friends. However, when at work, keep things professional. Remember, you are part of a workforce that aims to save lives. You need the help of others in order to succeed with this goal. Plus, it makes work a bit more tolerable, if not enjoyable. It will never feel like work when you are working well with people around you.

The first few months in nursing might be hard, but for someone who has gone through dozens of mind-blowing exams, hundreds of sleepless nights, and tons of scary clinical instructors, you can certainly get through this. This is just one tiny bump in the beginning, don’t let it define the rest of your career.



Lead Nurse Africa is a Pan-African nursing organization dedicated to public health promotion and professional development.

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