Confidence seems to be one of the hardest things to acquire when working as a nurse. This is especially true when starting your career. Questioning yourself and being unsure of your abilities and skills can hinder your daily workflow and even affect the quality of care.
Thankfully confidence is an attribute that you can build up. Nurses that seem confident did not start like that. Over time they learned to use a different approach in dealing with difficult situations. With the right tools, it is very well possible to develop and increase your confidence level.
This article will crush the learning curve and show you helpful tips that you can start using immediately.
Ways to Build Self-Confidence as a Nurse
1. Be prepared and anticipate the worst
The best way to build confidence is to prepare yourself. Preparedness provides a sense of security that will immediately make you feel better and less nervous.
Being prepared starts at home. Pack your lunch the night before so you don’t have to rush things in the morning. Create a checklist and use it before you leave the house. There is nothing worse than starting the day frazzled. When you leave the house, you need to feel in control.
Come to work a few minutes before your shift starts, so you have time to plan and organize your day. Being there a few minutes early gives you time to learn about your patients before you get report. Looking at your patients’ information at your own pace makes it easier and won’t overwhelm you so much.
Review the policies and procedures of your hospital. Be sure you are familiar mainly with the order sets on your unit. Also, know about standard procedures that your unit performs. No worries if you need help with them at first. But knowing what you’re doing in theory, will make you feel more prepared and therefore more confident.
Never assume your shift to go smoothly. Patients are in the hospital for a reason. They are sick and at their worst. Simply expect things not to go as planned; that way, you can’t be surprised much about anything. That will help you not to panic and stay calm no matter what comes your way.
Being physically and mentally prepared for work can make a tremendous difference. It will give you a sense of calm and ease the feeling of uncertainty.
2. Make learning a never-ending process
Building your knowledge is one of the essential parts of becoming more confident as a nurse. Understanding concepts about disease processes and being able to anticipate specific treatments for your patient helps you feel more sure about caring for your patient. Being certain of ourselves and our actions is what makes us feel confident.
For that reason, learning should be something that you’ll never stop doing. Learn as much as you can by implementing systems that will keep you updated about general information and trends in the nursing field and study about your specialty.
For example, you could keep a little notebook with you at work and make notes as you encounter something that you don’t know. That way, you have a line of topics that you can review and study when you have time. Next time you encounter a similar situation, you are more knowledgeable about it.
Be sure to review material regularly, so the information stays fresh in your mind. Simply set aside a few minutes each day on your days off. Over time these practices can make a big difference.
3. Stay on top of your nursing skills
Nursing skills are hard to learn and hard to keep! You have to practice them frequently and make sure you stay informed if there are new procedures to learn.
Speak up if you feel unsure about a specific skill. Odds are you are not the only one that has questions. Have someone help you.
If you feel uncomfortable or unsure about a skill – regardless of how long you have been a nurse- never do it without help from another nurse. There is no shame in needing assistance. Rather have someone check you one too many times than not.
Now you might ask how to gain confidence from that? First comes the safety of your patient. It will be way worse for your confidence level if you mess up and harm the patient when all you need to do is ask for help.
This brings us to the next point.
4. Know your weaknesses
Understanding your abilities and limitations is an essential part of nursing judgment. Admitting to the fact that you need help in any given situation or don’t see the solution to a problem might not make you feel confident at first.
However, recognizing when you need to reach out for help or make use of other resources shows that you are confident enough to demonstrate that your priority is the care and safety of your patient.
Being confident does not mean that you need to handle everything by yourself. It is quite the opposite; it means that you can make a sound decision in the best interest of your patient. You decide if you need other resources involved to improve the care of your patient.
Make use of your resources! Use the pharmacy, the lab, case management, social workers, other nurses, respiratory therapists. Even other floors that are more specialized provide a resource. You get the idea. Knowing when you need help is a form of confidence.
5. Improve your communication skills
Communication is vital when it comes to self-confidence in nursing. Most areas in the nursing field require a lot of interaction with different people who are part of your patients’ healthcare team.
Anytime you are not sure about something, ask questions. You want to double-check before doing something that could potentially harm your patient. You might be hesitant about asking questions because you feel stupid, but the truth is that many other nurses feel the same way. This profession forces you to make a lot of judgment calls. There is no shame in asking for different opinions.
Always be professional towards your colleagues. It can be challenging at times to get along with so many different personalities, but it is worth it. Getting along with most of your colleagues will create a more comfortable environment for you to be able to approach other nurses about advice and improve your confidence.
How You Can Improve Your Confidence With Patients
Showing confidence at the bedside is necessary for you and the patient. The best way to increase confidence with a patient is to establish trust in your patient about you.
Be honest about things. Just because they are in the hospital sick doesn’t mean that they can’t tell if you are faking confidence. Be straightforward with your patient if you don’t know the answer to their questions and assure them that you will find out. That increases your trustworthiness and self-esteem as a nurse because the patient resorts to you for help and perceives you as the go-to person for their hospital stay.
Keep your composure at all costs. Keeping calm, especially at the bedside, is key. Patients might not always show it, but they are nervous about their hospital stay. Being calm and collected in scary situations gives you control over the circumstances and helps you maintain confidence in front of the patient.
How You Can Improve Your Delegation Skills as a Nurse
A lot of nurses struggle with this part of delegating tasks. They want to be able to do everything without needing much help from anybody. While that thought might be commendable, you might still do the patient more harm than good because you might delay care unnecessarily.
Trying to do everything for one patient instead of delegating tasks can lead to your other patients’ shortcomings.
For example, if your patient needs help with something a technician can do and you have something to do that only you can do as a nurse, don’t hesitate to delegate it.
That way, there is no delay in care for either patient.
Always be respectful and treat every person the way you want to be treated. This might sound generic, but really think about how you say things. Pay especially attention to your tone and body language. Communicate what you want in a clear way and include a time frame.
Be aware of that person’s skills and scope of practice before you delegate tasks. Ask yourself: Should you delegate this task, and is the person able to complete the task? Ultimately this is your call to make. If the outcome is not as expected, you need to change something. Either how you approach the person or the tasks you delegate.
Be Your Greatest Advocate
The healthcare environment can be harsh at times. It’s essential to have the right expectations and the right mindset when working as a nurse.
To boost your confidence, you need to be your greatest fan. Don’t wait for others to compliment you on your work. The nursing field can be a thankless environment, sometimes.
Make it a routine to practice self-love. Tell yourself that you helped someone today and that you wholeheartedly did your best to help your patients and improve their lives.
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