Whether you’re a new graduate nurse in your first year of practice, or a vetted nurse with a wealth of experience, your confidence can ebb and flow. During those downturns, there are steps you can take to build yourself back up.
1. Find a mentor
Having a mentor can increase your job satisfaction and give you the support you’re looking for. Your institution may offer a mentoring program. But sometimes a mentor/mentee relationship happens organically. If you’ve been working with someone that you admire and learn from, make it official by asking him or her to be your mentor. Try to grab lunch with them once in a while or a quick coffee before the day starts. Or keep it electronic — e-mentoring is an emerging trend that reduces barriers to developing mentoring relationships, like scheduling conflicts and geography.
2. Seek peer-to-peer support
No one understands what you’re going through quite like your peers. Do you work with a few nurses who share a similar level of experience? Organize a lunch or dinner meeting where you can commiserate with one another about the challenges and triumphs you’re facing. Your peers can validate your feelings better than most and it feels great to know you’re not alone. Make some ground rules to keep things positive. Venting is OK, but a constant complaint session can drain you rather than uplift you.
3. Develop assertive communication skills
Assertive communication doesn’t come naturally to everyone. But learning to communicate assertively can have big rewards. In one study, after nurses completed a series of communication workshops, a greater percentage of the participants perceived the workplace to be a more respected and safe place to voice their opinions.
4. Help your coworkers
When you’re just starting out, the responsibilities of your own patient assignment can be overwhelming. Your job is to focus on that alone. But as you become more adept in your clinical and time management skills, start to lend a hand to a fellow nurse when you can. Becoming a supportive coworker will help you realize just how far you’ve come. If you’re a more experienced nurse, working as a nurse preceptor is a great way to share your knowledge and make a difference on an entirely new level.
5. Write nurse narratives
Journaling your clinical experience isn’t just nursing school homework or a task to cross off the list for your annual review. Clinical narratives can boost self-confidence and help you reflect on your journey. But it doesn’t need to take a lot of time.
Try finishing these prompts for a brief reflection on your clinical day:
- If I had to choose three words to define this shift, they would be …
- I did a good job with …
- I made a difference by …
- Something I’d like to work on is …