Jump to content

Struggle with self-confidence/fitting in

by Belle1984 Belle1984 (New) New

Specializes in OR and anaesthetics.

Hi everyone!

I am hoping someone can advise me on this issue. I have trouble fitting in in the work place, feeling comfortable around colleagues, using eye contact successfully without freaking out others.

I am currently studying nursing, and am due to finish very soon. I know the placements are to gain and consolidate your nursing skills but I've found chopping and changing clinical areas pretty challenging to say the least. Sometimes your mentor has little interest in teaching you and can decide to ignore you so youre left to your own devices. Also, I guess being a student you can be branded as a 'waste of time' or nuisance, so are often treated this way by the other medical professionals too. Perhaps this is just how it is in London and/or big cities??

I have found it really difficult to feel comfortable in these settings, and can honestly say that my confidence has been shattered. I struggle with being able to feel at ease sometimes, and have become very self-conscious. I go in and out of feeling good about myself - the times when I don't, I struggle to communicate with people as I begin 'staring' into peoples eyes and I know its clearly not an acceptable thing to do. I end up avoiding discussions and communicating when I need to. I do enjoy interacting with people and patients, but when I am feeling too aware of myself, I find it very difficult.

I have been applying for jobs recently as I will soon qualify. I have been asked to attend an interview for a job I am particularly interested in. I am now however, worried about whether I will fit in in the environment and whether I can feel comfortable again - enough to be able to settle into a decent job - before I've even gone for the interview!

I would love to be able to overcome this problem, perhaps it will come when I qualify, and my thoughts and actions will actually 'count' for once.


Silverdragon102, BSN

Specializes in Medical and general practice now LTC. Has 33 years experience.

Hi Belle and welcome to the site

Believe me things change once you have a job and settle in one place. Getting a job that suites you and one you like can take time and may mean moving around but main thing I think is getting your foot through the door and start working. Confidence will pick up especially when you gain confidence as a qualified nurse, just takes some time

Good luck


Specializes in OR and anaesthetics.

Hi Belle and welcome to the site

Believe me things change once you have a job and settle in one place. Getting a job that suites you and one you like can take time and may mean moving around but main thing I think is getting your foot through the door and start working. Confidence will pick up especially when you gain confidence as a qualified nurse, just takes some time

Good luck

Thanks SD, I really hope that I begin to come into my own when I get into the working world - I am looking forward to really getting my teeth into something!



Has 13 years experience.

Hi, Im sorry to hear of you struggle. Fitting in can be hard and when you start somewhere new as a student or Staff Nurse, it takes time to feel you belong. It takes time to adapt to a new routine, and new people.

Why not try reading a book on confidence building, or effective communication.

Have belief in youself, you are a valuable member of staff whatever your role. Hang in there, and believe in yourself.


Specializes in Advanced Practice, surgery. Has 33 years experience.

It's funny how it all changed when you qualify, as a student you are an extra to the nursing team and with the pressures of the wards at the moment somtimes it is difficult to give time and attention to the students that we should.

As a qualified nurse you will part of that team, the nurses who you work with will be so pleased to have you on board that you will notice a difference.

Hi there,

I am a nursing student as well (in London),in my first year,tomorrow I am going on my second day of practice in hospital.

I understand the way you feel,I too have felt (on my first practice day) like I didn't belong,and I am sure the next three years will be very hard for me.

I hope I will be able to succeed and stay focused on my dream of becoming a nurse.

But I have heard of not nice stories from my friends on their first day in hospital,some were spoken in a negative manner or even told that if they didn't know how to do something than nursing was not for them.

It is sad,as all qualified nurses were once students......why are some some nurses so horrible?

I wish you good luck in your career,I am sure you will be fine.

Tanvi Tusti

Specializes in ICU, midwifery, Nurse Practitioner. Has 20 years experience.

Hi Belle and welcome :) What you wrote reminded me very much of myself some 20 years ago. I always felt uncomforatble the first weeks of placement and the chopping and changing around really does not help you feel a part of the team. All I can say to you is that it does get easier. When you qualify your confidence will grow, you will be part of the team then and hopefully your colleagues will treat you as such. You dont say how old you are, but confidence does come with age. I would never have imagined myself where I am today as a student nurse. I was always one of the quieter ones. I can't really say when I gained the confidence I have today, all I can think is that I "grew" into it. Good luck and I'm sure everything will start to fit into place once you qualify and get that job. :wink2:

I know where you are coming from. I've had numerous placements and it is HARD. We're only there for a month, by the time you get your head around stuff, you're gone.

maybe a little bit of my experience would help.

A good placement would have a welcome pack. One that states who's who and does what, the routine of the ward, the main medicines and procedures used.

I've seen it TWICE in 2 years, one on a cardiac ward,and one in theatre.

It's a pain to make one, but once in place, it makes life soooooo easy/

Try and devise your own, and chase your mentor or a nice HCA to fill you in with this. It helps big time. You don't know what on earth they're doing there, what's the procedure, and feel you're in the way.

Rather than sitting by the nurse's desk, looking lost and wringing your hands, get into any bay and ask staff how you can help. The'll give you bedpans, beds to make, fetch stuff, do it without complaining, liitle jobs, obs, etc. DO IT! and document it!

When it's appropriate, ask proceduress to be explained to you. Such as:next time you change the catheter bag, do you mind if i watch you? How do you know what type of cath to use?

Do 'patient journeys'. From admittance to discharge, go with them to the theatre, X-ray, doctor's rounds etc. Don't forget to ask if that's ok.

Show initiative.

Don't be put off by nasty nurses , HCAs and doctors. Some are genuinely crap and nasty, some are stressed to their eyeballs, some don't know what the heck they're doing and will lay into you to cover their lack of knowledge, some don't know HOW to teach. take it with a pinch of salt. You're learning the hard way how NOT to behave.

I found that self deprecating humour works a treat. I'll often say things like:'trust the student to screw it up', and 'thanks god you're in charge', when it's obvious i don't mean it, that tends to loosen them up a bit.

If it's quiet and they're writing notes, ask if anyone is desperate for a cuppa.

Sounds silly, but sometimes they get funny because you're not contributing to the 'pot', ie the money for tea and coffee. ask who's collecting them and offer a couple of quid.

I had the matron the other day, shouting form the top of her lungs on the corridor:'more students? why should we get more students, what do we ever gain from them?'. Someone told her i was around the corner, she was undeterred, had a vent spiced up with loads of swear words, made me feel like crap.

Yesterday, I picked up a critical situation, informed her and sat on top of it until the ambulance arrived, the only thing i asked of them was to have a line put in, that the doctor ordered. 'these students are good for something' she said, laughing and looking into my eyes.

And my little secret weapon is visits. If I'm about to lose it (crying in the car park is a good indicative), I pick up the phone and arrange with endoscopy, X ray, CT, theatres, WHATEVER, if i could spend a day with them. I don't need to, but gosh, I always wandered about running an outpatients clinic, or short stay surgical...etc.

Good luck, you'll get through it! nearly there!

Oh, and a nurse once told me that no matter how much or little experience you have, 99% of the time you'll get the job if they think you'll fit in with the team. So be honest about yourself, don't try to please (too much LOL)


Specializes in ICU. Has 15 years experience.

That is very perceptive and you sound like a dedicated student nurse. Thinking about wards ... the best ward I worked on as a student was a care of the older person ward where they specialised in Parkinsons Disease. Fantastic, committed staff and a really good mentor. They gave me confidence, yes it was hard work but they made the students feel appreciated.

Your point about a welcome pack is a great idea, the vascular ward I once worked on had a folder with basically who is who and what happens when.

We don't have a folder where I work now but we have two PDNs who have produced a more modern version. All our students get a flash drive with relevant articles, research and information sheets. At the moment students have two mentors each and they work every shift with one or the other mentor. That way we can ensure that they have plenty of opportunity to learn.

This topic is now closed to further replies.