Surviving Your First Mistake
Unless you are not human, you will make a mistake once in a while. As a new nurse you will have spent countless hours feeling incompetent and stupid. You may even feel as if everything you learned in the last few years suddenly disappeared from your brain and is never coming back.
This is all perfectly normal. It's going to take time to feel confident and at ease in such situations. Every nurse before you has experienced this and they're still nurses. The chances are pretty good they didn't kill anyone.
Slow down, ask questions, and remember that no nurse ever stops learning nor will he know it all at some point.
If you make a mistake, tell your supervisor right away. Take ownership of it and learn from it. What can you do to avoid it and any similar mistakes in the future? Then move on. Don't dwell on it; there is nothing more you can do.
Hopefully no one was harmed seriously. If you truly cannot figure out how it happened, you will have to let that go as well. You may understand it much later on.
An error is going to play havoc with your confidence. Expect this to happen and do all that you can to move on. If you have been keeping a journal of positive experiences, this may be the ideal time to review it and remind yourself that you have done many things in your short career to make life better for your patients. You did not intend to make this error and you will take better care never to repeat it.
Online discussion boards are full of comments from new nurses who have just made their first mistake or a colleague did and how they are dealing with it. Read them and pay attention to the responses from the experienced nurses who don't berate the new nurses and tell them they're stupid or incompetent. The experienced nurses share their own experiences, commiserate, and offer advice on how to learn from the error and put it behind you. Focus on the positive and the reasons you became a nurse. This too shall pass.