05.01 Trusting your Gut

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We have all had that moment where something did not feel right and you must quickly decide if it’s all in your head or if your intuition is trying to warn you of something. Listening to that little voice in the pit of your stomach and trusting your gut can increase your critical thinking skills, patient awareness and save lives. At some point, most nurses get the feeling that something is wrong with their patient or something is going to happen. Knowing when to listen to your intuition is an important skill to master.

Nursing Points


  1. What is trusting your gut
    1. It is an internal warning that alerts us something may be wrong
    2. When that little voice or feeling is telling you something is wrong
    3. Having the courage to speak up and take action
  2. How to trust your gut
    1. Experience
    2. Critical thinking
    3. Questioning mentality
    4. Nursing process
      1. ADPIE
  3. Listen to your gut
    1. Don’t talk yourself out of it
    2. Trust yourself and your assessment skills
    3. Talk to colleagues
    4. Notify the chain of command
    5. Go up the chain if need to
    6. Call a RRT or Code
  4. Dont be afraid to be wrong
    1. Better safe than sorry


Hey guys, in this presentation we’re going to be talking about trusting your gut. We all have one. So let’s talk about trusting it. So in nursing or in general every now and then we get that gut feeling that something just doesn’t feel right. And so it’s our intuition just trying to warn us that something is wrong. Something is about to happen. So as nurses, whenever we feel this, basically it’s just that funny feeling, that little voice in the pit of your stomach telling you that something is going on. And when that happens we start wondering, well, Hey, what is it? Is this really happening? Is something wrong with my patient? So it can help increase our critical thinking skills by doing that, it helps us save lives. And again, most nurses have experienced this gut feeling every now and then because we take care of sick people.

So it is an important skill, an important thing so listen to it. So I know that y’all, most of y’all know what it is, but let’s talk about it anyways. So it is an internal warning, it is a little voice in our head. That funny feeling in your stomach telling you that something is wrong. So as nurses we have to have the courage to listen to it and find out what is going on because it is trying to alert us that something might be happening with that patient. So we have to have the courage to listen to it. And if we’re wrong, well it’s again it is one of those things where it’s better safe than sorry. So how do we learn how to trust our gut? Well, number one, experience is a big factor. I’ve been a nurse for long enough that if I see something going on or I get that funny feeling, it’s usually because I’ve seen it before.

So I kind of know and I anticipate it, but somebody who has no idea, a brand new nurse may lack this experience. So how do you know? Well, one of the biggest ways that you can start finding out if you’re gut is really telling you that something is about to happen, is have a questioning mentality. Start wondering what is going on? Why is it happening? What caused it? How do I fix it? If you start having this questioning mentality, it can increase your critical thinking skills. And when you start doing that, you can really figure out what is going on with your patient and it’ll help you confirm if your gut is lying to you or not. One of the biggest ways that you can have this critical thinking mentality and that the questioning mentality is with the nursing process. An acronym for it is ADPIE assessment, diagnosis, plan, intervention, and evaluation.

So if you’re always constantly assessing your patient, finding out what is wrong with them, plan, what do I do? What interventions do I do? Did you do something to take care of them and evaluate did it work? And if you can do these steps really quickly when you think something might be going on, it can help you solve the problem and figure out if there really is something wrong with the patient. So a little bit more about listening to your gut. Don’t talk yourself out of it. If you have that funny feeling that something is wrong, do something about it. Trust yourself talk to your colleagues. This right here is so helpful. If you think something is wrong with your patient but you just don’t know what it is, that’s fine. It happens. Go talk to another nurse and ask them. There isn’t a day when I work in CVICU that I don’t do this.

Sometimes if I see something wrong and I’m like, huh, I easily can go talk to another nurse and say, Hey, what do you think? And they may give me different ideas that I just hadn’t thought of. It is, okay, consult with your colleagues, with your fellow nurses that’s what they’re there for. So again, if you still have that gut feeling, you haven’t had the answer that you need, you really feel like something’s going on. Then notify the chain of command. This would typically be a charge nurse or a doctor. You really need to get ahold of them and you’re just not getting the orders or the answer that you think is right for your patient and you are persistent. Go up the chain of command. Let me give you a quick story. I was recovering a patient that had a cath, while the patient was wakening up and it seemed like he was having stroke-like symptoms.

So I ran and I got the doctor and brought him back and he said, no, he’s fine. He’s not having stroke-like symptoms. He’s recovering from anesthesia. And I was like, no, I don’t think so. And he goes, yes, it is. Just keep an eye on him. So again, this kept happening. So I called him again and I was like, Hey, you need to come back and see him because he’s having stroke-like symptoms. He said, no, he’s not, he’s recovering from anesthesia and he’ll be fine. Well, my gut kept telling me, nope, this is not okay. So I went ahead and called a code stroke and this is where it involves the neuro ICU charge nurse and several other people are involved in this code team so that the patient could have a cat scan or determine if it’s a TIA or a stroke. So I did, I jumped the chain of command because I felt like something was wrong.

And in the end they determined that the patient was having, TIA and CVA, which is a good thing for the patient. But you know, I trusted my gut. I knew something was going on and they found out that he was having TIAs. So if you just feel it, do something about it. Lastly, don’t be afraid to be wrong. If I was wrong in that situation I just gave y’all and there was no stroke, there was no TIA’s, nothing. Well, you know what? It’s okay. At least I did what I felt was right to protect another patient because it is better to be safe than sorry, I didn’t feel right sending that patient home thinking he may be having stroke-like symptoms and then him having a severe CVA and it would be my fault. So it’s okay. It happens, trust your gut.

So a little recap, that little gut warning, it’s a little voice in our head an internal warning, telling us that something is wrong. So use your critical thinking skills. Have the questioning mentality, what’s happening, why, what caused it? How can I fix it? What do I do? If you have that questioning mentality, it can help increase your critical thinking skills. And then lastly, trust yourself. If you genuinely think something is going on and you just can’t figure out what it is, trust yourself and do something about it because you know what? It’s better to be safe than wrong. So I hope that this little lesson has helped y’all just to have a basic understanding and just some reassurance about trusting yourself and trusting your gut when you think that something is wrong. So make sure that you guys go out and be your best selves today. And as always, happy nursing.