Nursing student with ADHD, struggling in clinical!

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Hi everybody,

I am struggling in my advanced med-surge clnical rotation. Although I am a really compassionate and meticulous person, I don't do well under pressure and with lots of things to balance at once on my plate. Under those circumstances, I freeze under pressure and become clueless. It's absolutely embarrassing to have my classmates see me be so clueless!

At clinical, I have learned to manage to workload of one, maybe two patients, and the required tasks within the shift, such as taking vitals, doing an assessment, giving meds, and performing treatments. However, I do struggle a lot with being able to do this in a timely manner. I have to REALLY try to not hyperfocus, and I have to REALLY try to get things done in a timely fashion-and even when I am successful, I embarrassingly still take much longer than my classmates to do the bare minimum, while they've done that and more. Now if unexpected tasks or events occur, then I really run around like a headless chicken, jumping from one patient to the other, one task to the other, jumping all over the place. I really struggle with organizing things in my mind. And working harder does not work. It's all a complete mess. I'm a complete mess.

I don't know if I am just really not good in this setting, if my ADD really has the better of me, or if I am just really not set for nursing because I'm incompetent.

What do you think? Does anyone share a similar problem? What have you done about it? Does anyone have any advice that could help me?

I've only got 6 more weeks of this semester to pick up my act or else I'll fail and be kicked out of nursing school for good. Somebody, halp! :(


89 Posts

I wish I could help, but I'm just starting nursing school. We seem a lot alike. I used to take anti-anxiety meds, but I seem to have it under control now. I'm a perfectionist, so I worry about detail. I hope you get the answers you're looking for. :-)


Specializes in Cardiac IMCU. Has 6 years experience. 38 Posts

I've experienced the same problem previously. I think I've struggled with ADHD all my life,

I think being in nursing school you realize something isn't right. The volume of info you must process shouldn't be taken lightly.

Many people take adderall and concerta and have improved concentration and abilities to perform whereas before they

were a train wreck. I literally get distracted by everything the most quiet environments to the moderate environments, sometimes I change positions 10 times while reading my med surg book. Tomorrow I see the psychotherapist and hopefully I can get my prescription.

YouTube adderall and concerta


89 Posts


I tried to send you a private message but it says that you either declined to receive them and/or cannot because you have not posted enough on the forum. I think the magic number to be able to receive them is five posts. Check the Admin. section to find out! I will check back to see what the status is!

JustBeachyNurse, RN

Specializes in Complex pediatrics turned LTC/subacute geriatrics. Has 12 years experience. 1 Article; 13,949 Posts

The requirements to access the PM system are a verified email address and 15 quality posts (not 'me too' or other short posts to boost your post count)


135 Posts

Can you spend some time going over your skills in the school lab?

lmccrn62, MSN, RN

Specializes in Pain, critical care, administration, med. 384 Posts

It doesn't mean your incompetent. A couple of things. Do you take medication to help you focus? It may be something to discuss with your doctor. Also I keep a schedule if all my nursing tasks I need to do for the shift I put on a assignment sheet. I also include not only medications but include dressing changes, tubing changes, labs, baths, etc. if anything new that is added I add to the schedule as well. Organization is a skill that takes a while to develop because we also need to consider priority setting. You may just to take time throughout your shift to keep reprioritizing. Good luck!

akulahawkRN, ADN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in Emergency Department. Has 7 years experience. 3,486 Posts

I think a really good solution has been presented here: use of some sort of a timeline. This is something that I do. I'm not someone that has ADHD or anything like that, but organization has been a difficult thing for me to do. What I have done is I have created a timeline that I used to organize my day. I put all my tasks that I schedule on that and as things change, I reorganize that schedule. What that means is that I write everything in pencil. That specifically so that I can reprioritize on-the-fly and not have to scratch things out and rewrite stuff and so on. But what I have found is that by using that timeline, I can keep myself on task and on schedule. Something else that I do with my timeline is that for each task that I have, I place a little box next to it. My goal at the end of the day is to have all those boxes checked off so that I have nothing else to do. Believe me, it really helps!

Whichever route you choose to address your problem, I wish you all the best and only you can decide what is the best way for you to go. And whatever you do, do not delay seeking an appropriate answer to the problem. If you do, you already know what the outcome is going to be.


20 Posts

Thank you! I hope you will do well in nursing school. Once the setting wasn't new anymore, I had more control of the chaotic environment and thus, no longer needed my ADD medication. Once I went into the more advanced setting, my ADD had the better of me, so I had to take it again. I hope that you will still be able to keep you anxiety under control without a dependency on meds, although that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing either.


20 Posts

Thank you. I've used Adderall which has worked a little bit, but when I've taken it consistently, it started to lost its effectiveness. In fact, it began to make my ADD worse. It felt as it if was making me dumber! So I stopped taking it. After a few months break from it, I will try it again to see if it works. As for other med options, they were a bit pricey, so unfortunately I can't try other ones :( Have you tried a solution other than with medication?


663 Posts

I have had ADHD since almost 30...I tried Adderal and wellbutrin during nursing school and they did not work for me. The adderal made me feel like I was on crack and my jaw hurt all the time and the Wellbutrin did nothing at havent tried sny more just gotta just center your energy and use it to your advantage...


20 Posts

Yes, I have done this. In fact, I am pretty efficient when it comes to the hands-on stuff, such as skills and medication giving. My problem is my MIND-I just get to lost in the fog!