One of the things about being an ER nurse is that you never know it all, and the minute you start to think you do, the job will take you down a peg or two real fast.
Understanding the human body and everything that can go wrong with it, and knowing how to respond, is a subject that is too vast to ever really master. This obvious truth implies a sobering reality that can be a rude awakening each time you run into it – especially when you are supposed to be an expert. What I’m talking about is this:
You are going to make mistakes.
I’m not talking about everyday garden variety mistakes, I’m talking about mistakes made caring for someone who is vulnerable and is trusting you to know what to do. How you handle these mistakes defines who you are. This can be a painful process, but it’s absolutely critical to your growth.
You have to recognize the mistake and reflect carefully and thoroughly on what you did wrong, because only in doing so will you be able to learn from the experience. You must own it and document appropriately, alerting and talking about it with your peers, so that they may also learn from what you did wrong.
Once you have done these things, you can’t beat yourself up and perseverate on it. There are others to take care of who need your help.
Learn from it, then move the fuck on.