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When trying a new skill


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Hello guys,

I need help on some matters.

When it comes to developing a new skill, I have problems. You see, having the 'knowledge' on a specific skill is no trouble for me but when it comes to demonstrating or performing the skill, that is when things begin to be really bad.

I've had my driver's license for five years now but it's only recently that I've begun to use it. It took me 5 years to develop the confidence in driving.

Right now, being a nurse, I went through an intravenous therapy skill workshop that will provide me with the credentials to practice intravenous therapy which is a basic prerequisite to work as a nurse.

Thing is, when it comes to performing the skill, I screwed up! From the start, I got a mental block and got intimidated with the manner that the nurse preceptor was observing me. I thought like "damn! she doesn't like me! I'm screwed! I'm never going to get this right!" and yes dear folks, I missed the vein causing quite a pain to my partner who thankfully didn't get mad at me.

I passed the workshop but only with an average mark which for me is not good enough. In the class of 30, only 5 of us didn't hit the vein which I find to be very humiliating. And my problem is, this happened 2 weeks ago and I can't get it out of my head. I'll be having the completion (that's when you must comply with a number of actual insertions to patients) in a few days and I'm dead worried that I might miss again.

Am I setting standards that are too high even for myself? I mean in actual practice, if I miss, I might get a reprimand and a chance to lose my license to practice.

I read a book that told me that people sometimes base or invest much their self-worth on their performance and I'm afraid I'm one of these people. Can you guys help me get my thoughts of this mindset?


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Hi Josh

There is plenty of self help threads on this site, that would/could help you, including different kind of Therapy and their techniches to try to help you face the situations that you are in. Especially in the Blog section.

Look into this, I am sure this could help you?

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I guess there are some times -- and sticking a needle in someone else is clearly one of those times -- when you just can't afford to think about yourself. Anxiety keeps you focused on yourself, what will happen to you if ... Once you start thinking anxious thoughts, it can be hard to break out of them, because they turn you inward, into yourself.

About all I can suggest is, when you're getting ready to do venipuncture, empty your mind and focus on what you've been taught and the person in front of you.

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I agree that emptying the mind is important. Clearly, Dazed, you are a very self-aware and sensitive individual. From your post, it is clear you want to demonstrate this skill efficiently and effectively, but on top of this, you would like an amiable relationship with those who score you. The standards you hold yourself to are as high as it gets. But, no matter how many standards you hold yourself to, you can only manage the actions in relation to them.

As a suggestion, perhaps you should spend a little time to drill your mind in preparation for the next performance. Take a moment to sit down, close your eyes, and relax your body by breathing deeply (i.e. inflate the belly, not the chest) and unclenching any tight muscles. Once you are in a relaxed state, imagine yourself in the process of using the skill once more, but you are successful in the first try. See yourself calmly and knowingly executing the actions necessary to demonstrate the skill. Where is the preceptor? Imagine him/her as menacingly as can be while you perform this skill unperturbed. Repeat the process over and over in your mind. Closing your eyes helps because your mind spends a lot of processing power interpreting the sensory input of your eyes. The moment you close them, the power frees up!

The mind can simulate situations and the body will respond as if they were really happening. So, when you thought to yourself that the preceptor did not like you, it is also highly likely that you thought of plenty of things that could go wrong, further detracting from your ability to remain calm. Another suggestion is to start a schedule of brisk walks or jogs, maintaining approximately 130bpm for 15-30 minutes. According to the news on the book Spark, by John J. Ratey, exercise enhances the brain. From Amazon:

Did you know you can beat stress, lift your mood, fight memory loss, sharpen your intellect, and function better than ever simply by elevating your heart rate and breaking a sweat? The evidence is incontrovertible: Aerobic exercise physically remodels our brains for peak performance.
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