Even if you’re usually on the end of providing patient care, you’ve likely also been on the receiving end. So, you know that receiving care from a confident medical professional makes you feel like you’re in better hands. Sometimes, it’s tough to exude confidence. Even if you have the skill set and knowledge to perform your job well (which we know you do), showing others you’re confident in them is yet another ability to master.
Healthcare settings are full of unexpected emergencies, sensitive situations and emotional moments. Even the most competent professionals in the nursing practice may experience moments of worry, burnout or feeling like they aren’t doing enough. In other words, don’t get down on yourself if you don’t feel like you exhibit the expected level of confidence in the workplace every day. It’s normal to feel that way; everyone does from time to time.
Read on to find out our tips for letting your confidence shine. You’ll feel better about yourself, translating to your patients receiving improved care from you. You have an extremely difficult and trying job, but you’re doing it well, and you deserve to feel like you’re crushing it.
Tips on building confidence
Before we get into the practical day-to-day tips you can apply at work, we want to give you a self-esteem boost of our own: Even if you’re a new nurse, you have come very far and worked hard to get where you are. You’ve completed a rigorous nursing education, earned your baccalaureate degree and invested lots of hours doing hands-on patient care in a clinical setting. Trust that nursing degree and yourself, and remember that you’ve got the skills to pay the bills. Now, it’s just time to practice showing it.
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1. Find someone to look up to
Find a veteran registered nurse (RN) in your workplace who inspires you, and study what they do right in their daily actions. It might help to journal your observations about them and how you see yourself improving these skills. Don’t be afraid to let this person know how much you admire them, as this could be a boost for their confidence, too!
2. Get organized
You know that feeling when you have everything under control and your day just flows? Aim for that every day, and you’ll naturally feel more confident because you’re managing your time well and checking everything off your to-do list, just like the competent person you are.
3. Don’t shy away from asking questions
You wouldn’t be where you are if you hadn’t prepared well by getting your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree at nursing school, developing clinical skills and passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). So, never doubt whether or not you’re prepared. If you have a question, it’s a valid one. If it’s something you find in a reference guide, look it up. If you’ve to ask a physician or a more experienced nurse, do so. The result could save a life or positively impact patient outcomes. Plus, you’ll be more confident when this particular situation arises the next time.
4. Stay up on the latest in the field
Nursing careers demand lifelong learning, thanks to the scientific research and technological advancements that are constantly shaping the healthcare landscape. Subscribe to medical journals or nursing magazines like The International Journal of Nursing Studies. Download apps that focus on clinical practice (these are great pocket references when you’re on the job), and learn about how tech is impacting your field. Pursue continuing education courses, certifications and specializations, and don’t forget to attend those professional development conferences (hey, they can be fun!). The more you know, the more confident you’ll be. You may even find yourself answering other people’s questions!
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5. Don’t compare yourself with others
When pediatric clinical care nurse Jannel Gooden wrote for Jaanuu on this topic back in 2017, she had some great advice for her colleagues. She reminded nurses that “comparison is the thief of joy.” She even said to resist the temptation to stack yourself up against coworkers who appear to work more efficiently. Everyone has their own plan and pace, and there’s no sense in making quantitative and qualitative judgments about how your work compares to that of your peers. As long as you’re staying organized, getting your work done and providing patient care in the unique way only you can, you’re golden.
6. Come to your units prepared
Nurse Gooden also had some solid advice about how to set yourself up for success on a shift. She reminded readers of the importance of carrying around a reference book that one can use to look up common diagnoses, pathophysiology and medications. We’d like to remind you to bring the tools of your trade, too. Pack your stethoscope, medical shears, oximeter and an energizing snack. You can also consult our ultimate guide to get all the details you need! You’ll feel a lot more confident when everything you need to do your job is right at your fingertips.
7. Remember that we all make mistakes
One of Gooden’s final pieces of advice was that being confident isn’t about always being right; we couldn’t agree more. Have compassion for yourself when you make a mistake or don’t know the answer to a question. It’s okay to have a humbling moment from time to time. A mistake is an opportunity to learn and improve your skills, and this is how you grow into a more experienced, confident nurse.
Whether you’re a nursing student or an experienced registered nurse, you have one thing in common: You work hard to ensure patients receive the best treatment possible. Okay, you have two things in common. You also both need great scrubs that will support you through even the toughest day. And we’re here to provide them!
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