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Nine Effective Ways to Improve Your Confidence as a Nursing Professional
Date Posted: 02/Dec/2012


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 as a nurse, especially when faced with a new situation? Do you feel like an insignificant cog in the great big wheel of health care? Boosting your self-confidence as a nursing professional may help you turn some of those thoughts and feelings around.
What’s all the hoopla about self-confidence? Here are two reasons I believe the entire nursing community can be 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 and the community. It’s a win-win all around.
It’s all good and well to talk about self-confidence, but how does one actually become more confident? Here are 9 powerful tips that you can 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. 
2. Be prepared
In general, being prepared is almost half the battle at work and in life.
Have a checklist of things to remember to take to work.
When going into a patient’s room for something, ask yourself: Do I have everything I need?
When 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:
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 patient care. 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 recognition is a different scenario. I believe it is vital that managers and administration recognize their staff for the work that we do. But recognition is not approval. The difference is that seeking approval includes:
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
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 won’t be good at it and won’t feel confident doing it.
6. Be curious
Learning does not end when school ends. Ask questions. For example, if someone is doing a nursing 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 great 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, etc. Playing the one-man-ship 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 how you managed to master it. Sure fire way to build your confidence? Start doing things, keep doing things, and master them.
9. Contribute to change
If you don’t like your environment, change it. As nurses, we can feel like helpless individuals who have very little say or impact in health care standards. All that changes if you start actively being a change maker.
Of course, these tips mostly focus on professional nursing 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.
About the Author: Alicia-joy Pierre, RN is a writer, speaker, and nurse career coach. Alicia-Joy enjoys helping fellow nurses to connect with their inner genius and make career transitions that make their hearts sing and their purses happy (and wallets too.-can’t forget the guys).


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