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The 7 Biggest Fears in Nursing

Nurses are under great daily pressure to perform a range of important functions that affect lives. See your peers describe their biggest fears.

Nurses are under tremendous pressure to perform various essential functions affecting lives. Here are some of their biggest fears.

1. Causing Harm

In surveys, blog posts, and personal interviews, general care nurses and hospital nurses overwhelmingly cite that the possibility of harming a patient is their biggest fear. “We are the gatekeepers of health,” an NP reported. 

2. Missing Something

Nurses charged with specialized care of the most vulnerable patients (such as those in critical care, emergency medicine, or the NICU) cite missing signs of decompensation in patients as their biggest fear about their job. Nurses in other fields worry about missing important aspects of history.

3. Losing Your License 

If anything goes wrong with patient care, the nurse is the first person to be cited. A single report about professional or personal misbehavior to the nursing board in some states can result in immediate suspension of a nursing license, and it can take two years or longer to complete the review process. During this time, you cannot practice. And the first question that will be asked when you apply for your next job will be, “Why was your license suspended?”

4. Litigation

People are quick to sue for damages, and many law firms regularly prosecute individual nursing professionals for claims, regardless of the claim’s viability. Even unfounded litigation requires you to hire an attorney, which is costly and often accompanied by suspension of your license pending the outcome. 

5. Medication Errors

Medication errors are common in patient care and can occur at any point in prescribing, dispensing, or administering a drug therapy. Patients given the wrong drug or dosage of the proper medication can be irreparably harmed, and it only takes a minute to make a mistake.

6. Getting Caught in the Middle of Family Drama

Patients’ families are usually highly emotional when dealing with their loved one’s medical crisis, and they often leave their coping mechanisms — and their civility — behind. It’s stressful enough for nurses to manage the medical challenges of a patient’s care, but they frequently must also navigate family members’ emotional involvement.

7. Forgetting Your Training

This may be an irrational fear for most. Still, nurses constantly worry that in a critical situation, such as a code blue, they will blank out and forget to follow protocols they were trained to follow in nursing school or even ones they have executed before in practice.

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