Why You Feel Like You Suck Even Though You're Doing A Great Job

Aisyah (not her real name) was frustrated.

Last night’s shift made her feel like she never even went to nursing school.

She had a patient with ESRD who was about to go for dialysis at 0800. She was monitoring his blood pressure, and at 0445 it was at 166/89. When she came back at 0545, it was 168/98.

She started to get nervous. She wanted to call the M.O., but a note left by the nephrologist stated to only notify is systolic is over 200 and diastolic 100. 98 was pretty close to 100, so Aisyah started to panic.

It was then that Aisyah realized that the note actually said to call at diastolic > 115.

At 0725, the M.O. came over. Although he was nice about it, he told Aisyah that she should’ve called when diastolic was above 90.

If Aisyah could kick herself, she would. Even though that happened last night, she is still thinking about the mistake feels bad about it. She feels that she should’ve known better, should’ve talked to her coworkers about it, should’ve made a better decision about the note…


Does this sound familiar to you? Do you seem to finally be doing well at work, only to make a mistake that bogs you down and makes you miserable, long after it’s happened? Do you feel like you’re a bad doctor/nurse/pharmacist?

You have impostor syndrome.

Impostor Syndrome

It is the feeling of being a fraud, a fake, and people are going to find out. It’s fine for people who are undercover secret agents or quacks, but it’s a terrible feeling for people who are trying to make the world a little better.

“There are an awful lot of people out there who think I’m an expert. How do these people believe all this about me? I’m so much aware of all the things I don’t know.” - Dr. Chan, Chief of the World Health Organization

You’re actually doing a good job, but you don’t feel that way. Left unchecked, this will harm your mental health and affect your career.

Focus on providing value

What do people/the ward sister/the HOD think of me? They must think I’m an idiot!

We say this to ourselves time and time again.

The rule of thumb is that if you’re so concerned about what other people think, you’re not focusing on your work enough.

Focus on providing value. Show up, do your best work. Provide value to your patients, colleagues, departments.

Stop comparing yourself to others

Respect your own experiences. You went to nursing/med/grad school. You studied extremely hard for this. You sacrificed a ton of your time and energy. You suffered through grueling on-calls and surgeries.

You are the sum of your experiences. Please respect all the things you went through to make you who you are.

Don’t just be aware of other’s successes. They have their own shortcomings too, just like you. It’s just that you don’t see them.

Being wrong doesn’t mean you’re bad.

Being wrong does not mean you’re a bad nurse, bad doctor, bad pharmacist, physician; bad anything.

Everybody makes mistakes. The designers of the Titanic, supposedly the smartest engineers of their time, designed a now-obvious flaw into the doomed ship. The Terengganu stadium collapse in 2013 was also a mistake done by contractors, the state government, and inspectors. Thousands of mistakes are made in surgery every year.

It’s just how the world works. Don’t let your mistakes and failures define you, and carry on.

Nobody really knows what they’re doing

Really, no one does.

Even multi-million dollar companies run by the smartest people fail a lot.

You only feel like you know nothing because you’re more aware of the things you don’t know.

Final words

If you already feel like a failure right now, it probably means you’re doing a good job because of the Dunning-Kruger effect. It’s a psychological phenomenon that describes low-ability people’s incompetence to realize their incompetence.

In other words, people who are bad at something don’t know they’re bad at it.

The fact that you’ve come to a self-actualization level sufficient to see your own shortcomings means that you’re learning and growing as a healthcare professional, and as a person.

Comfort zone is very nice, but nothing ever grows there.

Carry on!



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 How do we define a great nurse? Is it one that fully accomplishes his/her tasks? Completes her shifts well without any issues? 

 Great nurses are those who alleviate suffering and heal the body, mind, and soul. 



 Compassion 

 Compassion is the feeling of concern and sympathy for others. 

 The word compassion literally means to “suffer together.” It arises when a person sees another suffering, and feels a deep desire to relieve the said suffering. It is a central tenet of nursing; the very mature of the work originates from the compassion of individuals to relieve suffering and pain. 

 A compassionate nurse will always do what is right for her patients. In times of fatigue, tiredness, or exhaustion, compassion for that patient will drive this nurse to trudge onwards and do her job. 

  On developing compassion:  

 
 Make it a daily practice: Think about it in the morning during rounds. At night during late shifts. When you talk to patients. It is a simple philosophy of kindness. 
 If you’re finding it hard to develop compassion in your nursing life, remind yourself that everyone you meet is seeking happiness, avoiding suffering, has lost something, and is learning about what it means to be human. 
 Think about a person you know who’s recently suffering. Imagine if the suffering happened to you. Now imagine if there is another person who realizes your situation and is trying her very best to make you feel better. You would appreciate that a lot. 
 This helps you develop the feeling of wanting to relieve others’ suffering, which is the definition of compassion. 
 

 Compassion has many benefits: it has been proven that compassionate people produce 23% less cortisol, the “stress” hormone. 

 Empathy: 

 The ability to understand and share the feelings of another. 

 Understanding the feelings of patients is crucial to their recovery. 

 It does not mean you completely understand what they are going through. It also does not mean you agree with everything they are feeling. 

 It means that you are willing to make a voluntary effort to listen to them and understand their challenges. 

 It is shown that patients are more receptive to treatments when they feel that their caregivers understand their situation. 

  On developing empathy:  

 
 It needs to be done without judgement. 
 Everyone has a different set of values. Two similar patients can have completely different challenges. 
 Understand what they are fighting against, and what they are fearful of. Use it to better develop a relationship with your patient, so he/she may continue to recover holistically. 
 



 Selflessness 

 The ability to think less about ourselves, and more about other people. Nurses need this trait, mostly for their own benefit over the patient’s. 

 Being selfless means to give to others at the expense of their own selves. By being selfless, it makes working the stressful nursing life a lot better. 

 Some nurses miss their lunches just to hold their patient’s hand. Some stay up the night to make sure their patient manages to live through it. 

 The reason why these kind of nurses are great is that they would do it all over again. For many more years to come. They also have to. Selflessness prevents these nurses from burning out on their work by caring for others more. 

  On developing selflessness:  

 
 Take pleasure in the happiness of your patients. 
 Don’t hurt another person for the sake of hurting them. 
 Watch your selfish thoughts; like when a patient irritates you, threatens you, you get the idea. That kind of thinking gets in the way of compassion as well. 
 

  Good communicator  

 Not only will you be needing to administer IVs, triage patients in the ER, or carry out CPR, you will also need to be dealing with your patients as humans. 

 There are instances where you will have to help patients and their relatives to understand their medical situation, in a comprehensible way. 

 Moreover, you will need to deal with your superiors, and sometimes you might not agree with what they would have you do. Being a solid communicator allows you to express those feelings of disagreement, and come to a favorable conclusion. 

 If deciding to go into teaching, being a great communicator is essential that you can impart your knowledge onto junior nurses effectively. 

  On developing communication skills:  

 
 Practice practice practice. Try to be as understandable as possible. It helps to realize what kind of patient or relative you’re talking to, their proficiency in the language you speak and their terminologies. 
 Some states of malaysia have a different colloquial grammar compared to the standard Bahasa. It helps to understand these nuances in language. Mirror their way of speaking and you’ll come off as more approachable. 
 Never EVER condescend someone else for not understanding what you were trying to tell them. More often than not it is the inability of the speaker to explain, not the inability of the listener to understand. 
 

  Possess mental fortitude  

 Some days are pleasant. Some are rewarding. 

 But some are difficult. Some are downright devastating, like when you lose a patient you cared for. 

 It is important not to let these things mentally incapacitate you, and compromise your ability to care for your patients. 

 It is okay to feel sad, angry, frustrated, or even shattered. We are all human. 

 Great nurses have the mental fortitude to weather these types of events. It might not be easy, but they still return to practise their art of healing. 

  On developing mental fortitude:  

 
 Identify the obstacle in your path. Is it a difficult patient? An angry relative? Death? 
 Understand how your emotions are making you react. Are you upset? Why? 
 Know that the obstacle can sometimes be the way. A difficult patient can teach you patience. An angry relative can teach you to deal with irrational people with stride. Death can teach you to be compassionate of other people’s loss. 
 

 Focus on making the obstacle that’s disturbing you. Ask yourself, “If I can’t solve this for myself, how can I make this better for othe people?” 



 Calm under pressure 

 Great nurses remain calm and composed under great duress. 

 Diamonds are forged under high pressure. Great nurses too, are like that; the do not cave under the load, they emerge stronger and better. 

 Being calm under pressure-filled situations allows you to perceive problems with better accuracy. It leads to better decision making, which can mean life or death for your patients. 

 Remain calm, and you will make better sense of things around you. 

  On developing mental calm:  

 
 The events that we see as negative all have a positive benefit that we can act on. A computer glitch that destroys your work in the hospital is now an opportunity to become two times better at your job because you’re going to do it twice. 
 Having a terrible supervisor in the wards is now an opportunity to learn from his/her faults while you fill up your resume and look for better opportunities elsewhere.  
Being mentally calm is seeing through the negative, past its underside and through to the positive. 
 



 Lifelong learner 

 A carpenter is only as good as the tools he is given. 

 Same thing applies to a nurse. However, in this case, the tools to a nurse are her knowledge and skillset. 

 A diverse skillset will make you valuable at a lot of situations. 

 A deep understanding of a certain skillset will make you highly valued at that field. 

 Whatever it is, learning new things and constantly studying to make yourself better is always a good idea. 

  On developing lifelong learning skills:  

 
 Develop a passion for the latest advancements in nursing policy, technology, and laws. The changes in those areas will ultimately affect the future of your work. 
 Have a career plan, and work towards getting the skills, certifications, or knowledge that you need to move on to the next stage of your career. 
 Follow great medical podcasts to listen to on your commute. 
 Subscribe to nursing-related journals and publications, and make it a point to read in your spare time. 
 



 Conclusion 

 It is said that in times that require greatness,  we do not rise to the occasion but we fall back on our training.  These habits may not be in you, but with deliberate and constant practice, you can cultivate these, and continue on your path of becoming not only a good nurse, but a great one. 

 Great nurses are always on the lookout for new, exciting, and better opportunities to grow their career. Find out your next employment with MIMS Career, a fast, secure, and convenient portal to connect you to top-class healthcare employers in MY, SG, ID, and PH.

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 Finding a new job can be very tiring, and time-consuming. It can be difficult to schedule some time to your job-seeking activities. However, the end of the year is a period of time you don’t want to miss if you want to maximize your chances of landing that precious new job. Here are four reasons why: 

  1. Employers are getting ready for the New Year  

   

 Traditionally people wouldn’t advise you to hunt for a job at the end of the year, when employers have maxed their yearly budgets and are just closing the financial year with some wrap-up activities. 

 But growing evidence seems to suggest otherwise: as employers return from the holidays with a renewed vigor, new goals, and new KPIs, they are more inclined to act upon your application immediately. 

  2. Employers have plans for 2018  

   

 Whether its a big hospital, a small clinic, or a humble retirement home, everybody uses the last few weeks of the year to reflect back on their performance in order to stay afloat. It is normally during these periods of time that they make the decision to allocate budgets to hire new staff… 

 So get to applying! 

  3. You’re ready to apply for one  

   

 The best time to apply for a job is also whenever you feel you’re ready. 

 When you want new experiences, new training, different exposure, or an increase in salary… you know it’s time to go. 

 So update your resume, acquire new skills, and hunt for that job. 

  4. You’re starting to feel miserable at your job  
 
  
Find yourself feeling unnaturally tired? Even if you’ve been getting enough sleep? 

 If you’ve been exhibiting signs of stress due to your current job like fatigue, headaches, migraines and depression, it’s probably a sign that you should cut your losses and look for opportunities elsewhere. 

 Don’t think it’s your fault for not being able to fit in… sometimes the shoe just doesn’t fit.

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 A common question asked to academic counselors by prospective nursing students is: “So how’s the life of a nurse? What kind of hours to they work?” 

 It depends. It really depends on your location, academic qualifications, experience, country of practice, working environment… Really, I could make a long list but then the article would be way too long. 

 So our team at MIMS Career has sifted through the working hours of a lot of different types of nurses, so you can have an idea of what kind of career choices you’d have to make to go towards that kind of life. We’ve categorized it in five parts: a little, a bit, normal, a bit more, and a lot. 



 A little (3-5 hours a day) 

 Part-time nurse practitioners 

 These nurses mostly work doing house calls, or are doing contract jobs with non-medical institutions like schools or companies. Their employers do not require their presence most of the time, so as little as 3-5 hours per work session is pretty common. Part-time nurse practitioners usually have another job other than their nursing one. 

  Find out how to become a part-time nurse practitioner in our in-depth nursing career advancement guide HERE.  

 A bit (5-8 hours a day) 

 Locum nurses 

 Locum nurses work part time shifts in clinics or hospitals or other medical-related institutions. They are not on the payroll of the institution they work with; as they are only meant to supplement the institution’s own workforce. On average a locum nurse’s shift is about 5-8 hours. 

 It is more common to see nurses doing locum jobs to supplant their monthly income, but nurses who exclusively do locum jobs exist, albeit rare.  

  Find out part-time locum jobs for nurses on our career portal HERE.  

 Normal (8-10 hours a day) 

 Nurse instructors, academicians, dialysis nurses 

 These nurses work office hours. This is as normal as it gets. Dialysis centers and nursing schools all have regular, fixed schedules that don’t demand anything more than the usual office workday. 

 Same goes for those who work in nursing schools as teachers, trainers, or professors.  You can find out what it takes to be an academician in the nursing world in our article about lifelong learning HERE.  

 These kinds of nurses don’t normally work weekends, and their schedules are mostly the same and predictable. 

 A bit more (10-14 hours a day) 

 Those involved in direct patient care, like emergency room nurses 

 Most of the time, when nurses at the ER say they work a 12-hour shift from 7am to 7pm, they almost always never get to get out on time. There’s always something to do, someone else to cover, or some loose ends to tie up. 

 This is made even worse by working in hospitals with a shortage of staff. Nurses would be brought in to do things that are not in their job scope, because they can do those tasks. But people who are not nurses do not do nursing tasks because they cannot do those tasks. How many times have you been to an ER, and see a nurse doing clerical work at the front desk because the hospital doesn’t have a secretary or clerk? 



 A lot (14-24 hours a day) 



 Paediatric intensive care, intensive care, surgical, labor and delivery. 

 It is very common to see nurses doing double shifts in these wards. Their shifts might be 12 hours, but are sometimes to do two of those shifts back-to-back to reduce shift handovers, staffing overlap, and reduce costs. 

 Moreover, the type of work that this category of nurses do are a bit on the lengthier side. Surgeries can go up to 24 hours, including perioperative care. Intensive care can be very demanding as patients hover around critical states. 

 There is a variety of workloads for nurses. Each type of work suits different people who prioritize different things. With MIMS Career you have the opportunity of applying with ease to the jobs that you want to go into. Signup and apply with our easy, 1-click application process. Browse for jobs in Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Indonesia. Save jobs for later if you’re still on the fence. Also, you can opt for job alerts if nothing fancies you. 

  Signup and apply today! It’s fast, secure, and free.

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