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.
- 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.
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
- 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.