02.03 Confidence Building as a New Grad Nurse

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Included In This Lesson



Recognize that you aren’t alone and can build confidence in yourself if you allow.

Nursing Points


  1. https://www.nursing.com/blog/impostor-syndrome-nursing/
  2. Recognize and enjoy your successes
  3. Don’t compare yourself to others
    1. Only compare yourself to YOU
  4. Take in and keep nice things that are said about YOU
    1. Look back at it when you need a boost
  5. Accept that you achieved this success
    1. You had a roll in this success
  6. Be honest with yourself
    1. You don’t know everything, no one does
    2. You will make a mistake, even the best do


All right guys. Today we’re going to talk about how to build confidence as a nurse, and I’m actually going to spin this a little bit and we’re going to talk about something called imposter syndrome. So specifically we’re going to talk about why maybe we don’t feel confidence, and I hope that by doing that it allows you guys and gives you that ability and that permission to feel more confident. All right, so let me read for you first the definition for imposter syndrome and then we’ll talk about some ways to overcome it. Imposter syndrome is a concept describing high achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud despite external evidence of their competence. Those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. 

Proof of success is often dismissed as luck timing, or as a result of deceiving, as are others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. You’re probably sitting there thinking that describes me to a tee. So let me show you this little graphic here that says we’ve got three groups here, people who get imposter syndrome, other people who get imposter syndrome and little literally everyone else. They also get imposter syndrome. So everyone feels like they’re an imposter sometimes guys. And that’s okay. It’s okay to feel that. It’s how we handle that that really matters. And I believe that is, we handle that. It allows us to feel more confident. So do you ever feel like a fake? Do you feel like you don’t deserve the success? Like you just got lucky? Do we feel like everyone else around you is somehow more prepared or deserves what they have more than you are? 

Do you ever believe that you just aren’t intelligent? Let me share with you specifically three examples from my own life of when I felt this, maybe the greatest point or more in my nursing life. Maybe you can identify with it and then we can move on to how to deal with it. In 2011 I started nursing school and I remember walking into the classroom the first day and looking around, and this was a second degree program, so it was adults who already had other careers and were successful, looked around and thought, man, everybody’s going to figure it out. I’m a fake that I need to work harder and harder, harder than everyone because I’m the only one who doesn’t belong here. It really hit me. Then you know that this is something real. This is something real that that people feel and there was no reason or no evidence for me to believe that I didn’t belong there, but I did fill it. 

And then in 2013 I started my first job as a nurse and I remember sitting in there with all the different interns, all of us who were beginning our first job and thinking again, somehow I got lucky. My resume just slipped through and they gave me this job, but pretty soon they’re going to find out I don’t belong here. And then very shortly after that, a couple of years after that, my manager, Judy called me into her office, right when I showed up to work one night and she goes, John, we’re going to train you to be a charge nurse. And I thought, what me? How can I be leading a team of nurses? I don’t belong here. I’m the only one who can’t do this. So I felt it myself as well, guys. And I want you guys to know that you’re not alone, even though people don’t talk about this. 

This is oftentimes what leads us to not feeling confident in ourselves or acting with confidence. So with that, let’s talk about how we can overcome imposter syndrome. And why is this important? Well, if we overcome imposter syndrome, guys, you can recognize and enjoy your successes. You can reach your full potential and you can love yourself rather than low with yourself. Does that sound good? Let’s talk about how we can achieve that. And I’m really just going to give you four tips for doing that. These aren’t earth shattering, these aren’t groundbreaking tips. But I believe if you do that, you’re gonna find great success in overcoming imposter syndrome and feeling more confident in yourself. And as a nurse, the first tip is to stop comparing yourselves to that person. Look, there’s somebody in your life right now. There’s somebody in the room, there’s somebody that works on your floor right now, but you just are comparing yourself to and assuming that they are so much more well-prepared or they’re so much better off than you, you guys. 

What you need to realize is you’re not in a race with that person. In fact, you need to realize that life’s not a race. We all have different starting points. We all have different ending points and we’re just crossing paths for a moment. So don’t get yourself stuck thinking that life is a race. And I want to share one quote with you. This is from a an Olympian in the 1986 Mexico Olympics. His name was John Stephen Akhwari and I remember my parents bought an Olympics video back in like the nineties and I watched it and had the story of this John Stephen Akhwari. It always stuck with me. He was a marathoner from Tanzania and he showed up to run the marathon at this 1986 Olympics. So all these Olympic world athlete marathoners take off and they finish in about two hours. Well, everybody thinks the race is over. 

They think all the marathoners have finished. A couple hours later, another marathoner comes stumbling into the stadium. It was John Stephen Akhwari, his leg, which bandaged. He was limping. The sun was going down and most of the fans had already left, but one camera man pointed his camera at a this, this runner who was John Stephen Akhwari and saw him stumble across the finish line. And when he finished, what he told the camera, as he said, my country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race. They sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race. You guys, you’re not racing other people. This is about you. This is about your journey. Let go of everybody else and stop comparing yourself. Tip number two is keep a file of people saying nice things about you as a nurse. Every now and then. People are going to write you cards. Your manager’s going to give you a good review. 

Coworkers are going to say, you did a great job. People you precept are gonna give you cookies. Save these things. Save these moments. Because what it does is it’s outward confirmation that you are okay, you are good enough, but even if you’re not willing to accept that and believe it in your mind that other people see you for who you really are. Even if you’re attacking yourself, you are good and you are enough. So save these in a journal, in a file folder, even just in Dropbox or something. Just save these notes and these comments so you can look back at them later when you are doubting yourself the most. Number three, except that you have had some role in your successes. You guys, it’s crazy to think that somehow you just magically arrived and became a new grad nurse without doing anything. You did put in the hard work. 

You did study, you did pass the inklings. You are here because you did a lot of work. Be okay. Congratulating yourself for that. You did to work, you deserve it and you’re here for a reason. Number four, be honest. Realize that nobody else knows what they’re doing. There’s not a single new nurse who’s a perfect new nurse. There’s not a single experience nurse who’s a perfect experience nurse. We all make mistakes. We’re all learning and we’re all growing. Realize that just because you don’t know something but you’re humble enough to ask, it doesn’t mean that everybody else knew what they were doing. We all learn. We all grow and just be okay with yourself growing and learning. There’s a book called mindset by a psychologist named Carol Dweck that I recommend you check that book out. It’s, it talks about a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. 

I think a big part of overcoming imposter syndrome and feeling confident is accepting a growth mindset, which basically says that I’m learning, I’m growing. I’m not a finished product at any point along the way, so adopt that mindset. Realize it’s okay. Now when you walk into patient’s rooms, see yourself as a successful nurse. Walk in there, present yourself with confidence and work as the nurse that you’ve worked to become. You guys, I know you can do this. I know you can have confidence. Come back and watch this lesson every now and again. Look at that video, John. Stephen acquiree. Read that book a mindset by Carol Dweck and just realize that you are enough. You are good enough. Go out and be your best self today. Happy nursing.