Graduating from nursing school and becoming a new nurse is a remarkable accomplishment that can generate excitement, fear and loathing, anxiety, joy, and all manner of both positive and negative emotions.

With new nurses abandoning their nursing careers within the first 1-3 years at alarming rates, the nursing profession itself needs to wake up and smell the coffee regarding how crucial it is to support, nurture, and grow our new nurses into seasoned and confident professionals.

New grads need to pass the NCLEX, of course, and when that hurdle is accomplished, landing and starting a first nursing job is the order of the day. Where does new grad self-confidence come from, and how is it inspired and retained for the long haul?

Nurse confidence

Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash.com

The above three paragraphs are directly from a blog post published on May 28th, 2018. The title, “New Grad Nurse Confidence: Stoking the Flame” says it all, and in this episode of The Nurse Keith Show we take that notion even further for both new and seasoned nurses.

Here are highlights of that blog post:

Being a graduate nurse can be a challenge, to say the least. In nursing school, earnest nursing students learn and practice skills, interact with patients and healthcare professionals in various healthcare settings, and study the hard science and nursing theory that are part and parcel of the profession.

New grad nurse confidence can come from many places, including having the opportunity to learn and master those skills that are still in the formative stages. That first catheterization, blood transfusion, or PICC line change can be scary, and the new nurse needs the chance to practice over and over again until competence is achieved.

Learning and mastering clinical skills necessitates the guidance and teaching of seasoned nurses, and in a perfect world this can happen via a nurse grad residency program where learning, onboarding, and hands-on support are baked right into the new nurse experience.

New nurses need to hear positive messages from both within and without their work environment. The collegial and organizational support outlined above is important, but new nurses need to receive support from friends, family, and others in their lives, as well.

Beyond friends and family, novice nurses may benefit from coaches, mentors, podcasts, blogs, journals, and other channels from which support can be gleaned. Nursing schools could do a much better job of tuning students into the plethora of information and sustenance that’s out there, otherwise this information can be found by the novice nurse taking the bull by the horns and seeking it out of their own accord.

The first few years of a nurse’s career can be confusing and overwhelming. The amount of knowledge needing to be transferred from the school milieu to the working world is immense, and new nurses can end up feeling like impostors.

Having said that, the only real cure for Impostor Syndrome is to keep working, learning, and gaining skill so that the demons of low confidence are starved for food. In the end, the ultimate responsibility for getting and remaining inspired is in the hands of the new nurse him- or herself. An original impulse generally leads an individual to pursue a career in nursing, thus it’s up to the nurse to stoke the flame and keep the fires burning.

Whatever fuel feeds the flames of your nursing motivation, you new nurses need to find it. If an employer provides it, wonderful. But you can’t wait for your employers to step up to the plate — most will likely strike out.

You new nurses must seek out the mentors and supporters who will buoy you in hard times, even if your problems have nothing to do with nursing. A nurse of substance sees life from all perspectives.

Feed your inner life through as many means as possible: physical exercise and personal wellness; intellectual and creative pursuits beyond nursing and healthcare; travel; friendships and community; family; volunteerism; and civic involvement. A well-rounded life will serve you well and keep nursing from dominating your every waking moment.

Stoking the flames is a lifelong process. Dedicate yourself to it and the rewards will follow. Your self-confidence and sense of personal agency are key — make them your focus as you continue on the road. The engine of your success depends upon it.


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Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BCIn case you didn’t already know, Nurse Keith is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, keynote and motivational speaker, and popular career columnist. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses.

From 2012 until its sunset in 2017, Keith co-hosted RNFMRadio, a groundbreaking nursing podcast.

As of May of 2018, Keith is the host of Mastering Nursing, an interview-style podcast showcasing inspiring, forward-thinking nurse thought leaders and innovators.

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 NurseKeith.com.

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