Nurses, It Isn’t Bragging If It’s True, The Nurse Keith Show, EPS 77

In my work as a holistic career coach for nurses,I frequently hear from nurses who don’t like to talk about themselves when applying for nursing positions or networking. They often will say, “I don’t like to brag.” What these nurses need to understand is that tooting your own horn in the interest of your professional career growth and development isn’t bragging if it’s true.

Toot your horns, nurses!

Nurses, toot your horn

On October 3rd, 2016, I posted a blog post with the same title as these show notes for episode 77 of The Nurse Keith Show that you’re now reading: “Nurses, It Isn’t Bragging If It’s True“. I was compelled to write that blog post (and record this podcast episode) because many nurses with whom I have contact seem to have trouble articulating their awesomeness without feeling like they’re bragging or showing off.

This lack of desire to be forthright about one’s expertise seems to be a thread that runs through many nurses’ minds, and I’m not quite sure where it comes from. Perhaps we’ve been under physicians’ thumbs for so long, many of us have internalized that institutional memory and convinced ourselves that we need to be modest, demure, and remain in the background in the shadow of the doctor.

Well folks, I’m here to tell you that, in the 21st century, it’s about being brash and brave enough to toot your nurse’s horn as loudly as you can if it will get you the attention you need to move forward.

In that blog post, I shared how the professional summary can reveal a great deal about how much a nurse is willing to step out and proclaim her amazing qualities:

At the very top of a nursing resume, a nurse needs to create a professional summary that is a concise and powerful encapsulation of who she is and what makes her tick as a nurse. Rather than mild-mannered generic language about communication, teamwork, and attention to detail, the nurse boldly states how she has navigated her career and become the nurse who she is, or what experience and skills and expert knowledge she brings to the table. This isn’t bragging, folks; it’s the truth. For example:

“Highly experienced Masters-prepared nursing professional with proven expertise in clinical team management, clinical supervision of registered nurses, and the development of effective nursing teams in the ICU, CCU, and PACU environment.

“In current position, developed and implemented highly effective patient care tracking system piloted in CCU and subsequently adopted throughout facility. Presented research poster regarding tracking system at 2015 AACN conference to significant acclaim.

“Additional accomplishments include Nurse of the Year Award from __________ Health System (2011 and 2013), multiple publications in peer-reviewed critical care journals (see “Publications” section below), and completion of first of three years of PhD program in nursing education.”

This nurse isn’t afraid to toot her horn, tell it like it is, and put her most powerful foot forward by enumerating her awards and accomplishments. Clearly expressed self-confidence is not braggadocio; rather, it’s a bold statement of self-worth and recognition of one’s own value.

I also shared the following:

Employers like to see confidence. While boldness, forthrightness, or assertiveness may turn off certain hiring managers (likely the ones who are simply looking for undemanding nursing cannon fodder for a poorly organized facility that runs its nurses into the proverbial ground), forward-thinking managers will be impressed by someone who is able to unashamedly articulate his or her value while looking them square in the eye.

Like I’ve said before on both this blog and on my podcast, a little guerilla marketing goes a long way in the 21st-century nursing job marketplace; so if you can summon the gumption to toot your horn loudly enough for influential people to hear, you may find doors opening that may not open as readily for the humble nurse whose modesty keeps her eyes to the floor and her resume as sharp as a butter knife.

Being assertive in your nursing career must include being assertive in how you position yourself and leverage your expertise and knowledge. Tooting your horn isn’t bragging; it’s stating the truth with gusto and authenticity. In this sense, you don’t inflate your importance or stretch the truth; rather, you tell it like it is and assert what is most wonderful about you as a nurse, employee, clinician, colleague, and human being.

What do you think about these ideas, nurses? If you stop right now and think about your resume, your cover letter, your LinkedIn profile, or even the way you describe yourself and your work to another colleague, do you think you come across as assertive and confident or meek? Are you hiding your light under a bushel or showing up in full armor, ready to rumble?

I challenge you to honestly examine the words with which you articulate your nursesness; are your words powerful enough to convey who you really are, or are you holding something back? If you’re holding something back, why do you think you’re doing that? Are there old voices or demons in your head that say you’re “just a nurse”? Is nursing something about which you feel shame or embarrassment? Are experiencing “impostor syndrome”, unable to say what makes you a great nurse because you don’t feel you have the right to the title of nurse?

I’m not meaning to get psychoanalytical here, folks; it’s just that there are nurses who just don’t value themselves enough to own their expertise and be able to say it out loud. Don’t be like that; don’t keep your head down. Instead, raise your head up, raise your voice, be bold, be authentic, be assertive, and go ahead and toot your horn.


The episode of the Nurse Keith Show sponsored by StaffGarden, episode of The Nurse Keith Show is brought to you by my friends at StaffGarden, a unique digital healthcare company allowing nurses to create a private online ePortfolio that StaffGarden shares with high-quality employers (with your permission, of course) in order to connect you with the best facilities and positions.

StaffGarden partners with fantastic employers seeking the best candidates in the nursing profession; through powerful partnerships with the recruiters and talent acquisition professionals employed by these healthcare leaders, they deliver your ePortfolio directly to the people who are looking for nurses just like you.

Having a StaffGarden ePortfolio and landing a job with a partnering employer costs you nothing. However, your ePortfolio will get you noticed for positions that you would likely not have access to through traditional ads or job postings.

As a nurse, partnering with StaffGarden adds depth and breadth to your job search process, as well as your exposure to some of the most progressive healthcare employers in the country. Allow SG to work for you and connect you with some of the greatest job opportunities in 21st-century healthcare.


The NNBA and Networking Nurses

In the fall of 2015, I recorded episode 29 of the Nurse Keith Show from Las Vegas, Nevada, where I was glowing from a glorious time at the annual conference of the National Nurses in Business Association (NNBA). Well, from October 14th to 16th of this year, I’ll be back at the 2016 NNBA conference with bells on, and I’m super psyched that Kevin Ross and Elizabeth Scala—my partners in crime at RNFM Radio—will also be with me.

The National Nurses in Business Association 2016 annual conferenceJust as a heads up, the three of us from RNFM Radio will be putting on a pre-conference workshop where attendees will be able to learn the basics of podcasting, and actually go home with all of the information they need to actually launch a podcast on a shoestring. There are other great pre-conferences on the schedule, as well, but we obviously want you to come to ours because it’s going to be fantastic. Check it all out here.


The Nurse Keith Show is adroitly edited and produced by Tim Hallowell of The; social media and promotion are expertly handled by Mark Capispisan.

Please consider leaving a review of The Nurse Keith Show over on iTunes; this helps more nurses and healthcare professionals find the show and benefit from the information being shared. Just visit iTunes, click on the iTunes store, search for The Nurse Keith Show under podcasts, and leave a review, and voila. Thanks!

Be well, dig deep, and keep in touch!

Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BCKeith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind and the well-known blog, Digital Doorway.

Keith is co-host of, a wildly popular nursing podcast; he also hosts The Nurse Keith Show, his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. Keith is also the resident nursing career expert at

A widely published nurse writer, Keith is the author of “Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century.” He has also contributed chapters to a number of books related to the nursing profession, and currently writes for MultiViews News Service,, StaffGarden, and Working Nurse Magazine.

Mr. Carlson brings a plethora of experience as a nurse thought leader, online nurse personality, holistic career coach, writer, and well-known successful nurse entrepreneur. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his lovely and talented wife, Mary Rives.

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