The Negative Effects of NURSING GUILT

Every nurse experiences “Nursing Guilt.” I felt it as a new grad and I still have days where I feel it now.

What is Nursing Guilt?

Nursing Guilt is the feeling you get as a nurse when you:

  •  Are so busy trying to keep your head above water that you don’t get to spend time with your patients
  • Are so bogged down by tasks that some become late or have to be passed on to the next shift
  • Have a deteriorating patient, but haven’t stepped foot in your other patients’ rooms for hours
  • Are passing non-stop meds and feel more like a drug dealer than the nurse you trained to be
  • Forgot that cup of ice you promised hours ago
  • Have done a million things that shift, but at the end feel like you did nothing
  • Know you have so much more to give as a nurse, but the assignment you were dealt didn’t allow it

Not only do we have Nursing Guilt, but what do we do about it?

We NURSE it! We foster it. 

It dwells in our minds and spoils the joy we take in our work. 

It frustrates us and perpetuates the lie that we are not good enough. 

How To Manage Nursing Guilt

Nursing Guilt may always be present due to the reality of our jobs and the compassionate nature of nurses, but we need to keep it in check and not allow it to spoil our passion. When you find yourself nursing THE guilt, speak these truths over the lies:

  1. You are a great nurse
  2. You are one person and can only be in one place at a time
  3. You cannot control your patients status or doctors response time
  4. The reality of taking care for multiple sick patients does not always align with the computer or policy parameters
  5. It’s okay to forget things. Your mind constantly prioritizing and reprioritizing as you get new information. Something more urgent took place to delay the other task
  6. Nursing is a 24/7 job. There is not always enough time for one nurse to complete every task and order before it’s time to hand off to the next nurse.


It’s so easy for our negative thoughts to become a runaway train. When Nursing Guilt begins to take the reigns of your thoughts, commit to voicing these truths to yourself. Commit to saying it to your co-workers when you see they are overwhelmed or look discouraged.

You ARE a good nurse.

Do not let the lies dictate your worth as a nurse or as a person.

We may not be able to eradicate Nursing Guilt entirely but if we stop nursing THE guilt and focusing on the negative, we will be more satisfied with the hard work we do and everything we are capable of.

How often do you struggle with Nursing Guilt? Will you commit with me to stop nursing THE guilt? Comment your answers below!