How to build confidence as a nurse

EP 82: 5 Ways to Build Confidence as a Nurse

How to build confidence as a nurse? Sometimes in nursing, even the most experienced nurses face 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.

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

5 Ways to Build Confidence

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

  • Posture and eye contact.

Have you ever considered the image you present when you’re slouched, looking at 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 different image than 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 exiting 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. Getting caught up in thinking about how your co-workers are sizing you is easy. And while you want to be part of the team and fit in, it’s so important not to let other people’s (perceived) opinions about you cause you to lose sight of why you’re there!

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

  • Expanding your knowledge

In medicine, knowledge is power; when we feel educated about a particular circumstance, we tend to feel more confident in our abilities. Usually, time is the most significant 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. Handling a specific situation or resolving 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 of 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 has 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 you want them to, or you make a mistake, speak to yourself the way you would your good friend. You wouldn’t tell them everything they should have done differently or suggest 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 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 they have been well-trained and have a wealth of experience, entering a unique 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. You might feel like everyone is watching you, the “new kid,” to see what you can do — and whether you will make mistakes. While little besides the time can help you get past the first-day jitters, you can build your confidence as a nurse in the future 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, asking questions, and relationships with others, you’ll gain the self-esteem you need to handle anything that comes your way.

Gain your confidence as a nurse by watching this whole episode here 👇👇👇


00:00 – Intro
00:17 – Show intro
00:50 – Topic Intro
01:54 – How to Build Confidence as a Nurse
03:03 – Posture and eye contact equal your energy
05:25 – How do you know if you have good posture?
06:32 – Don’t compare yourself with others
09:32 – Expand your knowledge
13:55 – Asking questions
17:24 – Practicing self-compassion
19:27 – Travel Nursing Confidence
23:10 – A recap
23:32 – It’s a wrap!

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