No Confidence!

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    Do any of you struggle with being confident in your abilities as a nurse? I have been an RN since the early '90s and I still feel sooo inadequate when I'm at work. It seems like other nurses have such a knack for remembering minute details about patients, giving succinct, detailed report, and just being all around good nurses. I have never been in any kind of trouble, I have never been written up, and I have always received positive performance reviews from my immediate supervisors in the nursing profession, and yet I still struggle every single time I work with feeling like I am not remotely as good as the other nurses that I work with. I am a Med/Surg float who only works 2-3 shifts a week, so maybe it's that I have never worked full-time and therefore don't have the "knack" that one develops by working several shifts every week.

    Do any of you experienced nurses still struggle with feeling inferior as a nurse, even if nothing has never really happened to prove that it's true? I'm not really addressing this to new grads, because most new grads struggle with confidence. I'm talking about long time career nurses who have never felt that they measured up. Any suggestions? Sometimes I just want to give up nursing for good and find a profession where I wouldn't feel this way every time I go to work.
    Last edit by westieluv on Aug 9, '11
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  3. 6 Comments so far...

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    I have confidence issues too, but I don't think it is necessarily a bad thing. It keeps me on my toes, always second guessing myself, keeps me from making big mistakes.

    Your nursing style is unique. If your goal is to do the best job possible, and take care of your patients...you are WAY ahead of those nurses who remember the minute details, but lack empathy/compassion. I bet you are the person I run too for advice regarding patient care, meds or weird MD orders.
    toby60 likes this.
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    Thanks for your kind response. I will say that I am very empathetic. What I lack in technical skills, or at least believe that I do, I make up for with being kind and empathetic to my patients. I have always preferred the "people" side of nursing to the technical side anyway. When I am working and I see people like social workers and volunteers who spend their time talking to patients and helping them through various avenues other than hands on care, I feel like I really chose the wrong career path, because I just don't feel like I am good at what I do, yet I love helping people. I also think that I am probably way too hard on myself and see myself through a different lens that others do, to some extent. For example, a few nights ago, I had a crazy night at work. I had seven patients, one of which was a new admission, one of which was an ICU transfer, three of which were on contact isolation precautions, which always takes up a lot of extra time, and two of them were extremely sick and kept me busy all night long. I didn't get a break, I was starving and sore by the time I reported off to the day shift, and I still left feeling inadequate, like I could have done a lot better and that I was leaving them a lot of problems, even though I did my very best to take care of everything that I could on my shift. So with a shift like that, does everyone feel like they didn't do a good job, or do they forgive themselves if they aren't perfect and can't do it all and can they tell themselves that it's okay, they were given too much to do and they did the best that they could and that's all they could do, and then go home, forget about it, and enjoy their day? I so want to be able to do that!
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    Geeze, what a shift!

    On busy nights like that I always had the sinking feeling in my stomach that I was forgetting something. I would go over the charts several times, and make sure I'd remember the most important things, because so much had happened. I know that my cheat-sheet I carry in my pocket has saved me more often than not. I keep a detailed, but small history/physical type of thing for every patient in my pocket that I make adjustments too during the shift. It helps me remember what I've done, prioritize, and not forget the little details that EASILY slip away after a terrible shift.

    There was one job, it seemed that every shift was CRAZY. I would leave feeling overwhelmed/inadequate. I had to give myself pep talks almost every day, telling myself that I put the patient first, did my best, and I didn't care if day shift was nitpicking away at what I didn't do. It help to have some music on, and I would run through the day in my mind on the drive home. When I got home though, it all went into the work "box" in my head, and I didn't take it out/think about it/talk about it until I got to work again.

    That helped with the stress. It took a few months to make it a habit, but it has help.
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    I have been a nurse for a lot of years, and I still leave feeling inadequate. There are going to be days that you can't get it all done, so you shouldn't be beating yourself up. Your night that you mention sounds horrible. How you left sane amazes me.
    If you feel weak in some areas, bone up on them. Become certified in Med/Surg, that will help with your practice.
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    Thank you, I have considered getting certified in Med/Surg. I think that would help me to feel more adequate. I also appreciate just knowing that I am not the only one who feels this way, in spite of my years of experience.
  9. 0
    No, you are in good company. I'm currently studying for my certification and it's been refreshing to re learn some stuff I have forgotten.


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