Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bad Dream, Worse Behaviour

Some nights I have a dream in which my boss and peers come up to me in the middle of a busy shift and tell me that I’ve actually failed my licensing exam and as such, I’m not actually a nurse. Then I see professors from some time long ago saying that my degrees have been revoked. Of course, my nursing license also gets revoked. All of this happens in front of a doctor who starts to lecture me on ER wait times being prolonged because of something I’ve done. It’s never a good sign when I dream this dream while on break AND when the doctor in question is on shift as well. Of course it doesn’t help that this doctor makes me incredibly nervous and I can’t figure out why. Rationally I know full well that I have the requisite knowledge to work as nurse. I am also completely cognizant of the fact that I have a long way to go before I reach the ‘expert’ level of nursing. And yet, there remains something about this doctor that makes me feel very very edgy (close to the point of full blown mind numbing anxiety) when he’s on the same shift as me. His presence makes me feel as if anything I say would sound foolish and anything I do would be wrong. I become consumed by the thought that I was hired over the other candidates from my class only because I might have stumbled across the right answer to some mundane question. And so, much to my own chagrin, I say nothing. I silently sit paralyzed with self-doubt and wait until he goes onto see the next patient before I can breathe a sigh of relief. He has never done ANYTHING that would warrant such a response from me, but I feel threatened by him regardless. Perhaps it’s his height (almost 6’7) though unlikely, or perhaps I think I see an expression of restrained surprise so subtle as to be nearly imperceptible when I speak intelligently about something. Or maybe, I still feel I have nothing substantial to offer next to the highly skilled and experienced nurses and doctors and this doctor just happens to work on the shifts in which I feel exceptionally shitty and under-qualified. I know I have to deal with this, and quickly, but I don’t even know where to start.


RVtravelerRN said...

I have crazy dreams like this as well, like the time I dreamt I had to take over for anesthesia on a pt we were doing surgery on ( I am an OB nurse!). I kept thinking "well I can probably keep her asleeep with these gases, but what happens if they expect me to do an epidural or a spinal? How do I fake that?" I was so tense and exhausted when I woke up!!! Who knows why these thoughts run around in our heads?

RehabNurse said...


Go look in your wallet if you have a card-type license. Notice it has your name on it.

If you have to look at it on your shift, look at it.

You would not be where you are if you did not pass tests and go through orientation.

It was really stupid, but one of my jobs actually had us watch a motivational tape that told us to look in a mirror daily and say, "I work for a great place."

You need to get your own feedback loop in your head or in the mirror. Go with something you like, such as, "I'm going to do a good job today. I'm going to do one thing better than yesterday. I'm a damn good nurse."

Say it over and over and over if you have to, in order to believe it. Trust me, I've been there...not so long ago.

Kids movies have some great themes. One of my favorites is from Iron Giant: "You are what you choose to be."

Choose to be the best and you will be.

Good luck!

Maha said...

Thanks for the kind words fellow bloggers. I feel better already :)

DreamingTree said...

I used to dream about work, open my eyes (still asleep), and wonder why I was in bed with a patient (my poor husband). I'd be sure that I had to assess him or give him medicine, but no way could I ever find his chart. The other dream I'd have would be that I was back in school and had to be at a hospital an hour away by 4 am. I'd sit straight up in bed, look at the clock, and say, "OH SHIT!" It didn't matter what time the clock said, I was late. Thankfully, those dreams are rare these days (probably doomed to have one tonight...).

As for your nervousness around this one dr, try some simple ways to overcome it. Smile when you see him. Make small talk (hi, how's it going, simple stuff). It may sound ridiculous, but it's how I overcame my nervousness at work. People tell me I look extremely confident. Truth is I fake it until I make it (though, I'm never too shy to ask questions or for help -- otherwise, I'd be arrogant & unsafe).