How to build confidence as a nurse

How To Build Confidence as a Nurse

How to build confidence as a nurse? There are times in nursing when even the most experienced nurses are faced with a new situation, making them feel like their confidence is shaken. Nursing has those moments that make you wonder if you’re even in the right profession at all.

When you begin orientation as a new graduate nurse, you know one thing for sure: nursing school doesn’t teach you everything you need to know to be successful on the floor. 

5 Ways to Build Confidence

Confidence is a skill just like anything else, and with a little bit of practice, you can learn to generate this feeling on demand!

  • Posture and eye contact

Have you ever considered the image that you present when you’re slouched down, looking down on the ground? That posture shows defeat “I don’t know what I’m doing”

If you’re not careful, your body language may be projecting a very different image than what you intend. You are in control of [the message] you are sending out.

When standing, imagine a string pulling your head up toward the sky. Picture a straight line existing from your earlobes through your shoulders, hip, and the middle of your ankles.

Eye contact to look at a human and acknowledge them as a human is a common courtesy. Whether it’s a handshake or asking how you are doing.

  • Don’t compare yourself to others

Nothing will take your confidence away faster than comparing yourself to others. It is so easy to get caught up in thinking about how your co-workers are sizing you up. And while you want to be part of the team and fit in, it’s so important to not let other people’s (perceived) opinions about you cause you to lose sight of why you’re really there!

The honest truth is, human beings make judgments, and typically their judgments have far less to do with what you’re doing, and more to do with themselves! Spending time trying to make other people like you (and not acting like yourself as a result) is a recipe for disaster. 

  • Expanding your knowledge

In medicine knowledge is power, when we feel like we are educated with a certain circumstance, we tend to feel more confident in our abilities. Usually, time is the greatest factor in experience and gaining confidence. You can also take additional workshops, classes, and seminars to expand your judgments. 

Education also doesn’t have to be just nursing, it can be like leadership. Being able to handle a specific situation or resolve conflict will help you stand out and get acknowledged, boosting your confidence. 

  • Asking questions

You hear us talking about this all the time but it’s that important. It even happened to be this past week having a question about the pacemaker. Avoid falling into the trap thinking you know everything. That is when you become dangerous.

It’s better to be sure than to make a mistake, especially in the life and death world of nursing. Also if you have a question there is a good chance that someone else had the same or a similar one.

  • Practicing self-compassion

Let’s say you miss an IV after two tries and spend the next few minutes (or hours) putting yourself down mentally. That negative behavior won’t serve you or your patients. 

When things don’t go the way that you want them to or you make a mistake, speak to yourself the way that you would your good friend. You wouldn’t tell them everything they should have done differently or suggested that this isn’t for them

Instead of “I’m never going to understand all of this, it’s too much information to remember. 

Try this “I am a new nurse who is learning a lot of new information, I will be patient with myself to learn. This is part of the process.” 

Also, do your best to limit your comparison only to how well you did yesterday. Imagine comparing yourself to coworkers constantly that “she passed meds faster than me every time” 

Travel nurses and confidence

Travel nurses often experience a “crisis of confidence,” especially in the early days of any new assignment. Even if they know that they have been well trained and have a wealth of experience themselves, entering a new situation, and working with a new group of colleagues presents a challenge.

There’s usually a learning curve as you get to know the personalities and politics of the department and the facility, and you might feel like everyone is watching you, the “new kid” to see what you can do — and whether you will make mistakes. While there is little besides the time that can help you get past the first day jitters, you can build your confidence as a nurse going forward, and reduce those nagging feelings of self-doubt.

Bottom Line 

Even when you have been a nurse for many years, there will be situations that shake your confidence. If you stay focused on improving your skills, self-talk, ask questions, and relationships with others, you’ll gain the self-esteem you need to handle anything that comes your way.

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