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9 Ways to Boost Your Confidence As a Nurse

9 Ways to Boost Your Confidence As a Nurse

Do you doubt yourself on a daily basis? Do thoughts of self criticism & chastisement run rampant through your mind? Do you feel unsure of yourself or your skills, especially when faced with a new nursing situation?  Do you feel like an insignificant cog in the great big wheel of healthcare?

Boosting your self confidence as a nurse may help you to turn some of those thoughts and feelings around.

What’s all the hoopla about self confidence? Here are 2 reasons I believe the entire nursing field can be changed (yes, I said it..changed) if nurses were more self-confident.

Here’s why:

  • Individuals who are self-confident typically speak up when wronged, challenge injustice, strive for positive change, work well with others instead of tearing them down and starting malicious conflict, and bring energy and enthusiasm to their work.
  • Self confidence is bolstered by quality, contributive performance. When people are performing well, they become more confident. Better performance is obviously better for patients, families, employers, the community. It’s a win-win all around.
But it’s all good and well to talk about self confidence, but how does one actually become more confident? I am going to tell you how. Here are 9  powerful tips for you to start using today:

1. Boost your nursing skills.

From training courses in facilities, to outside providers, there are numerous nursing courses for improving your skills. I have written about this before in several articles. Here’s one article about it.

2. Be prepared.

Sounds like nursing school 101 right? It is. Being prepared is almost half the battle, at work, and in life in general. Here are a few blazingly obvious examples (but sometimes we forget. No worries, we are all guilty sometimes)

  • Have a checklist of things to remember to take to work
  • Going in to a patient’s room for something, ask yourself: do I have everything I need?
  • Calling a Physician-be prepared with the chart/report/whatever you need to relay to the Doctor

3. Master effective communication.

Effective communication is a powerful tool for nurses. Not just with patients, but particularly with Physicians, and other interdisciplinary team members. This obviously will not happen overnight, but with practice, mastering effective communication skills can happen. Remember the basics and build on them. Here are a sampling of the basics:

  • Speak clearly but not condescendingly
  • Listen. Listen. Listen
  • Be aware of non verbal cues (on your part, and the person you are speaking with)
  • Acknowledge the person you are speaking with (this includes acknowledging their feelings)
  • Learn communication skills such as paraphrasing and clarifying
  • Ask questions & do not be afraid to admit when you do not know something. You can always offer to find out.

4. Don’t seek approval or even gratitude (especially from patients).

Unfortunately, as nurses we are often the last to be “thanked”. You must learn to handle that with grace. Not every patient or coworker will express gratitude. Remember why you are doing something. Nursing is not about getting approval and thanks, but is about caring. You will be very upset and broken if you are always expecting a thank you for a job well done. You have got to recognize yourself and be firm in your belief that you have contributed, helped, and cared.

Now, with all that said, let’s be clear that I am not talking about recognition. I believe it is vital that managers and administration recognize their staff for the work that we do. But recognition is not approval. There is a difference. Approval seeking includes behaviors like:

  • People pleasing
  • Trying to “out do” or “out shine” co-workers
  • Tearing other people down so that you look good
  • Saying yes to people so they will “like” you, even when it is something outside of your duties/scope/bounds or if someone else can do a better job at it
Here are a few examples of Recognition:
  • Being informed/reminded that you are part of a caring team
  • Acknowledgement of a hard days/weeks/months job
  • Acknowledgement of your contribution to your workplace

5. Enjoy what you do

I say this over and over, but if you hate what you do, it is very hard to feel good about doing it. When you don’t feel good about doing something, you probably also wont get good at it and won’t feel confident doing it. It’s that simple.

I have articles on this website to help you start turning that feeling around. Take a look here.

6. Be curious.

Learning does not end when school ends. Ask questions. For example, If someone is doing a bedside procedure that you are not strong in, ask to watch or participate if allowed and the patient/family is comfortable. When you come across medications, ailments, surgeries that you have never heard of, look them up. Nobody knows it all (even if they act like they do). The more you learn, the more confident you will feel in what you do.

7. Don’t focus on comparing, focus on contributing. It’s not a contest.

It’s not about being super nurse or being better than the other nurses. Performance is not relative to others, it is relevant to you. How can you improve for YOURSELF and for your patients. There will always be someone better than you, faster than you, more knowledgeable than you, prettier than you (sorry, I had to throw that one in :) ). Playing the one-up-manship game or treating work like a competition is a slippery slope that doesn’t end well at the bottom. Be confident that every day you perform to the best of your ability for that day.

8. Push yourself to do something new/challenging.

This is where confidence REALLY gets built the most. Have you ever been afraid to do something, but you did it anyway? How did you feel afterward? How about after the 10th time? It is a funny feeling when you can look back and think about how afraid you were to do something first, and now how you have mastered it. That is a sure fire way to build your confidence. To start doing things, keep doing things, and master them.

9. Contribute to change.

If you don’t like your environment but you have decided to stay, figure out if you can help to change it. Whether there at your workplace, or on a national level. As nurses, we can feel like helpless individuals who have very little say or impact in healthcare standards. All that changes if you start actively being a change maker. In a past article, I gave tips for nurses who want to contribute to change. Read it here.

Of course, these tips mostly focus on professional skill sets. A lot of confidence comes from personal development as well. I invite you to explore your own personal growth.

Got any more tips for confidence building? Share in the comments below. Or let me know how this article has helped you.

Like this article? Share it with your friends!

13 Responses to 9 Ways to Boost Your Confidence As a Nurse

  1. Darcy says:

    Your article on confidence building as a nurse is very inspiring & authentic. But only if you work in a “perfect world”. Unfortunately a very large percentage of nursing jobs out there are situations in which patient advocacy is the LAST thing you want to be if you want to keep your job.
    I have been a nurse since 1985 & I loved it when I started. However, the new & upcoming trend is compromising morality & ethics in the pursuit of profits. I have always done the things you suggest in your article, & have always been a nurse who was good @ her job & who never lacked confidence.
    In 2006 I was left go from a facility for at risk youth because I refused to look the other way when kids were over-medicated, abused, & treated like trash & because the mega company who owned us were making mega bucks while aquiring more psych & behavioral facilities. (Nobody listens to the bad kids & the crazy)
    Long story short, in all my years of nursing I never experienced being torn down & destroyed like what this company did to me in order to discredit what I was saying & protect their profits.
    Being a change maker destroyed my career & my son who was 6 @ the time has suffered my unemployability more than anyone. I returned to school for my degree in healthcare management & still I struggle to get employment due to it all being just a google search away.
    Despite the fact that I have worked hard to regain my confidence & to put it all behind me, I have seen this trend emerging more & more the last few years. I have spoken to several nurses, & healthcare professionals that have been fired for doing the “right thing” & I hear of more & more all the time in the LTC, skilled, & residential facilities which comprise the largest % of healthcare today. I am sad to say that I have even spoken to a MSN whose career is over because a physician made a big mistake in surgery & sacrificed her to save the hospital from a lawsuit.
    No accountability, lack of ethics, & greed is ruining nursing & although I appreciate your article, I think it is about 20 years behind & way to optimistic for today’s nursing environment.
    Thanks for allowing me to comment & I will continue to read your articles because you do inspire, & encourage & in today’s world we all need as much of that as we can get!

    • Alicia-Joy says:

      Hi there,

      I so appreciate your comment and for sharing about your experience in nursing. I couldn’t agree with you more that there are many injustices occurring in nursing right now. It is a sad state of affairs. But I do think that you misunderstood my article. My article is not about loving the way nursing is. My article is about self confidence. Notice the word self. Self confidence comes from within. 100%. It may sound airy-fairy to you but it is true. If you are waiting to find confidence from employers/nursing/healthcare/money/people/anything…you will find yourself a very disgruntled person in life.

      Have you ever known people to go through the nastiest of situations, but still have a positive attitude and glowing self confidence? If you don’t know anyone like that then think of famous people. From Nelson Mandela to Nick Vujicic, there are brilliantly positive and self confident people who have had life experiences that would make your head spin.

      Now if my article was saying that everything about nursing was wonderful and how to be a joyfully happy nurse in love with your nursing job, then I would agree with your criticism. On the contrary, my article and my website is about the EXACT opposite. Check out my profile on my ABOUT page. I was disgruntled in nursing for years and that is why and how I made transitions in nursing. My core belief is that if you are unhappy, you need to make a change. That change may be your own personal development. Or the change may be to another specialty or out of nursing completely. I stand by that. Firmly.

      Once again, I am appreciative of your comment. I love to hear from my readers and welcome all comments.

      I hope you find more inspiration and useful info here on Transitions in Nursing.


  2. Kelli Miller says:

    I agree with Alicia-Joy. Darcy seems to have a somewhat negative attitude and I’m sure one’s “unemployability” may have something more to do with personal attitude moreso than Google.

    Thanks for the article, Alicia-Joy. We should all keep these things in mind.

    • Alicia-Joy says:

      Hi Kelli,

      I am glad you enjoyed the article. When situations get down, it is easy to adopt a negative attitude. But those are the “testing” times when our attitude really counts.

      Thanks for your support!


  3. Muminat says:

    I realy love the article.i learn from it .Thanks

  4. Carollynn says:

    Love the article!

  5. Isabelle says:

    nice advice. boost my motivation & positive outlook on my transition back to work on my unit after 4 months of maternity leave. thank you

    • Alicia-Joy says:

      Hi Isabelle,

      Glad you liked the article and found it motivating. Best wishes on your transition back to work.

  6. amarie says:

    I can understand what Darcy is talking about. There are places where nurses who have self confidence and speak up in the best interest of patients are viewed as “trouble makers”. Administration will look for any reason to terminate those employees. It then becomes very easy to lose that self confidence. It is incumbent upon administration to foster an environment where trust, accountability and patient safety come first. When everyone knows the patient is our first priority, everyone else is also well taken care of; because negative behaviors and unsafe clinical skills aren’t tolerated.

    • Alicia-Joy says:

      Hi Amarie,

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I do agree that administration often doesn’t foster an environment of trust, accountability, and patient safety. That is one of the reasons I made my own transitions in the nursing field. In fact, it is one of the main reasons I created this website.

      However, it is not the point of this article. This article is about how a person can build SELF confidence. It is an inside job. The external World will always present situations that appear not to be in one’s favor. Developing confidence in yourself is a tool to help you get through this. Self confidence doesn’t come from administration, your spouse, friends, peers or anyone else. This is an error a lot of people make. They are searching on the outside, rather than doing the inside work. For example, if I hadn’t developed my own self confidence, as soon as Darcy or yourself, or any other person had a negative comment on my website, I would take down the article, or stop writing. But I don’t let it touch my self confidence. I stand firm in what I believe and in the value I hope to provide for my readers, whether or not everyone agrees with me is actually irrelevant. There will always be differing opinions. That doesn’t affect MY self confidence.

      But once again, thank you for commenting. The issues with administration in nursing run rampant and are beyond unfortunate. I am thinking that maybe I should write an article about it. Thank you for the inspiration.


  7. Susie says:

    Dear Darcy And Alicia Joy, I do not think Darcy’s post was a negative on Alicia joy’s post. Darcy was just explaining what the article meant to her. She has had some bad things happen in her job and was just explaining. Of course we all know we can only change ourselves and should not even want to change others. We are enlightened. Some others are not. Some people just want others who exude self confidence to be brought down a notch or 2. That is so wrong. Thanks for your blog.

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