The Power of Trust in Your Nursing Career | The Nurse Keith Show, EPS 154

How does the concept of trust figure in your nursing career and in your personal life? On episode 154 of The Nurse Keith Show, we dig deep into how trust — and the lack thereof — can inform your life and work.

moving at the speed of trust

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This episode builds on a blog post on Digital Doorway titled, “Nurses: Moving at the Speed of Trust“, which was published on April 9, 2018. We also touch on the further concepts elucidated on a companion Facebook Live video from April 11, 2018.

Here are some excerpts from that blog post:

Trusting Ourselves

The first act of trust intrinsic to our nursing journey is trust in the self. Even while our peers, colleagues, friends, or family may caution us against a nursing career, there’s that small, still voice in our head that tells us that nursing is the choice for us.

Becoming a nurse is a laudable goal that’s fraught with uncertainty. Many questions arise: Will there be jobs when I graduate? Will I actually like nursing? Will I burn out, be eaten alive, or kill a patient along the way? Am I crazy to want a career in healthcare?

Trusting Others

Nursing is by and large a collaborative profession, whether in the clinical space, academia, or the research center. Few nursing tasks are performed in a vacuum, thus trust in our nursing and non-nursing colleagues is generally central to the performance of our jobs.

The OR circulating nurse places her trust in the other professionals within the surgical suite. The home hospice nurse trusts that the social worker’s notes are up to date regarding the patient’s psychosocial situation. The school nurse must have mutual trust and respect with both the teachers with whom she collaborates, as well as the students for whom she provides care. And the collaborating professor and clinical preceptor must trust that each is providing their shared students with the best possible knowledge and experience.

Broken Trust

Nurses’ trust is often broken by employers in regard to poor management, overwork, and feeling less than valued by the powers that be. When nurses feel like so much cannon fodder, their trust in “the system” is damaged, sometimes permanently. And when their voices seem to count for nothing, some nurses simply stop speaking out, retreating into a sullen, defeated silence. This can then lead to unhappiness, burnout, poor health, stress-related illness, or internalized oppression manifesting as bullying and incivility.

Nurses’ hearts are broken every day. When nurses treat their nursing brethren like scapegoats and targets, demoralization results. And when managers dismiss nurses’ complaints or belittle their needs, we often see the development of a hard, soulless stoicism bordering on masochism. Nurse martyrdom leads nowhere but burnout and discontent, and patient safety can be compromised as a side effect.

Trust in the Future

Nothing is ever truly certain, and the only constant in the universe is indeed change (unless one also agrees that death and taxes are equally as inevitable). However, if those who wish to become nurses continue to trust themselves, then our nursing pipelines will be filled for years to come. And when those nurses emerge from their education, even more trust will be needed to affirm that the teams those nurses join are cohesive, healthy, communicative, and effective, and that the employers they choose to work for treat them fairly and kindly.

We nurses must trust ourselves to make prudent career decisions, remain in the profession for the right reasons, and remove ourselves from the fray when we’re burnt to a crisp.

Nursing is a wide open field with limitless possibilities ranging from the healthcare front lines to the outside-the-lines worlds of nurse entrepreneurship and business. We nurses must trust ourselves, trust in the process, and trust in the solidity and power of the profession to propel us forward into a limitless, exciting, and albeit unknowable future. Trust is the thing that makes us become nurses, and trust is what keeps our heads and hands firmly in the game.

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Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BCKeith Carlson is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, speaker, author, and popular career columnist. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses.

Keith’s two podcasts, RNFM Radio and The Nurse Keith Show, offer inspiration and practical support to nurses seeking to create meaningful, satisfying lives and careers. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. Keith can be found on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram—as well as at

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