The sucky part

So, during every learning curve (and especially in health care), you go through the godawful phase where you know nothing, everything is difficult, your work is incredibly slow and laborious, you feel pathetically inept and incompetant, you are continually overwhelmed, and generally, find yourself wondering why in the world you ever wanted to be a nurse/doctor/midwife etc. etc. in the first place. Well…at the moment, I am RIGHT in the middle of this phase, and it SUCKS. Big time.

I remember going through this as a new nurse. My first six months on L&D were TERRIBLE. I made a gazillion mistakes. I got yelled at by doctors, charge nurses, and patients—sometimes all three in one day. I blew at least 10 IVs before I could start one, and each blown IV brought my dwindling confidence to a new low. Patients would ask me questions and I would have NO idea what the answer was. In general, I felt like the world’s biggest idiot, and a pretender, at that. There were so many nights when I would come home exhausted while still adjusting to 12 hour shifts and just cry into my pillow, or cry on the phone to a friend, or cry in person with a friend over coffee…and then have to wake up the next morning and do it all over again. It was torturous. I thought it would never get better.

However, it did. I stuck with it, dragging my sorry ass to work each shift, and after about 6 months, I started to feel like I had a clue. By 8 months, I was enjoying myself. I became the IV queen on my unit, able to start those hard-to-get IVs that other nurses couldn’t start. By a year, I finally felt like I was a good nurse—competant, caring, able to get things done well, but also in a very timely manner. I had made friends on the unit, the charge nurses had grudgingly started to like me, I had earned the doctors’ respect and liked working with many of them, my patients would send me thank you cards and chocolates and champagne, and generally, I loved my job and felt like I was doing it well.

The point being, after working so hard to get to that place as a nurse, it’s really difficult to go back to square one as a midwife, and start all over again. I know nothing, especially when it comes to prenatal care, ambulatory clinic, or managing clinic patients. I can’t do anything well, or quickly. The management process seems to be beyond me. SOAP notes are the bane of my existence. One of my patients at clinicals yesterday complained because I was so slow (it took me 1.5 hours to do an initial prenatal visit, including complete health history and exam. My preceptor said that in general, a revisit should take about 15 minutes long, and an initial visit half an hour… … … uh…right…). It’s a vicious circle. I am uncertain and don’t manage my patients or my visits well, which only makes me feel even more incompetant, and then I manage my patients and visits even more poorly. I left the clinic last night in tears, wondering why in the world I wanted to be a midwife.

This morning, at least I can remember why I want to be a midwife, but being a doula or childbirth educator and forgetting this whole midwifery thing still seems pretty appealing. I left clinicals yesterday thinking that I never wanted to go back. I’m sure I will go back (next week, in fact), and I’m sure it will get better eventually, but ouch. At the moment, it just sucks.

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