When does the confidence come????

by Lauryn Lauryn Member

I am just about to start my last year of nursing school. Even though I have had PLENTY of clinical experience....I still need to know....WHEN DOES THE CONFIDENCE COME?


sharann, BSN, RN

1,758 Posts

I've been out of school for a year and have worked for 8 months as an RN.I can tell you that I am just beginning to feel more confident.Each day,each shift I work brings me both more experience and confidence.I have been told that it takes most of us 1 to 1 1/2 yrs to reach that "comfort zone".Believe it or not, we all go through this.Just remember, the next time one of theose "young-eater" nurses roll their eyes at you or put you down for your "inexperience", they have been there too.THEY just forgot.Good luck in school.You will do fine.Just ask many questions! :)



349 Posts

Hang in there, Lauryn. Just like Sharann said, you'll get more and more confident with each day that passes. We are all still learning, and those who think they know it all are the most dangerous. I felt better about myself about a year after graduation. Don't worry!!! It's totally normal to feel the way you do. I bet even your most 'self-assured' class member feels insecure, even though he/she may not show it. And yes, PLEASE ignore the eye-rolling nurse-eaters. Most of us are THRILLED to see new blood coming into the profession!! Hang in there, girlfriend!! ;)

Guest LauraRN0501

Guest LauraRN0501

Add your Credentials, Experience, etc. 0 Posts

Lauryn, I know exactly where you are coming from. I graduated in May and will start my new job next Monday. I am so excited, but terrified at the same time! I have gotten great support on this board and have been told again and again that confidence will come with time and experience.

My sister-in-law graduated last May and has been working for a year. We talk constantly, as she is also my best friend, and while she expresses feelings of inadequacy (sp?) I can tell such a change in her over the past year. She knows what she is talking about, she knows what is going on with her patients and she has a good rapport with other nurses, doctors, and patients. Denise has great assessment and critical thinking skills as well, and she has become a stronger person in her efforts to be a good patient advocate. And while I know she has a long way to go, I would let her take care of me or my family any day.

I am telling you these things because two years ago she was feeling just like you are and one year ago, she was experiencing the same panic that I am now. All of this lets me know that things are going just as they should and that you and I are going to be just fine! (now, to convince myself of that!)

Good luck, you'll do great!

Laura :)

Jay-Jay, RN

633 Posts

Lauryn, I had a TERRIBLY rough start to my nursing career. Many times I truly wondered if I was ever going to get it off the ground! I graduated just at a time when nurses were being laid off right, left and centre, and there were no jobs anywhere! It was devastating!

I was also working for an agency, well, a couple of agenecies, where if you made a mistake, even a simple one you were made to feel you had MURDERED somebody. You were called up on the carpet in front of your team leader, and the Director of Nursing, and had to explore in detail just what had gone wrong. It was sheer hell on your confidence level.

Today, I work for a homecare agency which supports its nurses. I remember the first time I made a med error with this job. The pharmacy had screwed up the MD's order, and scheduled the antibiotic to run q. 8 h, instead of q. 6 h. I had not had time to get the paperwork which had the original order on it, so I just went by what the pharmacy had printed on the AB bags. It wasn't till the following day, when I got the paperwork off my fax machine that I realized the error. Then, to top it off, the nurse that was supposed to see this patient while I was at my aunt's funeral messed up, and his visit was missed. His IV site went interstitial, and, unable to reach a nurse, he removed the cannula himself. I was SURE I was really in deep trouble!! I was so upset I was in tears as I explained the situation to my manager. Well, she filed the report, I faxed a copy of the original MD's order and the (wrong) pharmacy order to the relevant people, and THAT WAS THE END OF IT!! I never heard a thing about the incident again! The only thing my manager said, was in future, I should get a nurse to read the order over the phone to me, if I don't actually have the paperwork in hand. Having this sort of support from the front office has increased my confidence dramatically, to the point where I no longer quake in my shoes every time I have to stand up to a doctor on behalf of a patient.

So, the moral of this story is, avoid the nurse-eaters and nay-sayers if at all possible. They will do you in, suck your confidence down the drain if you let them. Learn from your mistakes, but don't dwell on them. The vast majority of nursing errors are not life-threatening. Learn from them, and say, "Well, tomorrow, I'll do better!"

Don't be afraid to ask questions if you're unsure of something. Some nurses don't have time for this, or don't have the patience, so find yourself a couple of mentors who will be willing to help you out when you're stuck. I vividly remember the first time I had to set up an ambulatory infusion pump on my own. I was having so much trouble that I phoned another nurse on my team (who was herself fairly new) and she coached me through it over the phone. That's the sort of support that's priceless when you're new to the job, and I wish more nurses would realize this. Find yourself someone who does!

[ June 01, 2001: Message edited by: Jay-Jay ]



16 Posts

Thank you so much everyone for your support. Just hearing your stories and your encouragement has given me more confidence in myself. It's ironic that Kday said even the most self assured classmate probably feels a lack of confidence. I think I must portray confidence even though I don't feel it inside all the time. My classmates are continually coming to me on the floor for advice, reassurance and answers. I know my stuff, and I never cross the line, or perform a skill that I feel that I am not able to do on my own. But I am looking forward to the day when I do not have to second guess my abilities or doubt my skills. Thank you soooo much you guys for your words of encouragement. I luv ya!



Specializes in NICU. 1,334 Posts

Hi Lauryn, I graduated 1 year ago (where does the time go?) and I've been working in a level 3 NICU for 7 months (first nursing job). I think I can pretty much assure that the "confidence" will probably NOT come while you're still in school. It will likely start to come when you start working. For me, just knowing that I'm a RN now gave me some confidence. I liked not being the student anymore.

When you finally start your first job, ask a lot of questions. I found that doing that gave my coworkers and manager a little peace of mind about me. They came to understand that if I really didn't know something, I would ask. That took off some of the worry on their part about hiring a new grad into a NICU setting.

Always appear confident, it helps people to trust you. If you KNOW you know how to do something (and have been properly signed off or supervised the first time, or whatever), be confident with that. But if you really aren't sure about something, ask, better to do it right then have to explain it later. I've found that the displaying confidence thing works quite well. I had a coworker of mine (who'd been a nurse for several years) ask me where I worked before being hired there. She was completely surprised to find out I was a new grad. APPEAR CONFIDENT!



Specializes in GI,Rehab, Ortho/Neuro. Has 20 years experience. 87 Posts

hey Lauryn- you are on the right track. I have been out in the world 7 years and still feel like I do things wrong. The confidence will come with time. Just take a deep breath. My brother told me something the night before my first clinical when I called home terrified that I have not forgotten.( I will paraphrase so not to offend.) They will not let you do anything that you are not ready for. He said a few other things, but those were to drum it into my head. :D

You will be fine, just keep you head on straight.

canoehead, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 30 years experience. 6,824 Posts

Hey, everyone is right that it takes at least a year to feel comfortable. I still remember that first year walking home and being grateful that I hadn't killed someone each shift, as I felt I had their lives in my hands, and none of the experience and self assuredness the other nurses had. My advice, ALWAYS ask questions, even if you just get a hinckey feeling on the back of your neck, just go to someone and say" this is whats happening, and this is what I plan to do, what do you think?" Anyone that remembers those first few years will respect you for your caution.

My first shift on my own I was caring for a wheelchair bound woman with MS. We loaded her in the cab and went to the mall for a few hours. When we got home and out of the cab she was in the wheelchair, but not yet wheeled away from the cab, the cabby took off and one of the handles of the wheelchair got caught on the car tipping her completely over, mangling the chair, and scaring the pee out of this green nurse. Well, I had jumped under her as she went down so she just had a bruise on her arm, and of course the chair was useless. I don't remember how we got back in the house, but I do remember having to call my supervisor, and also having to explain what happened to her husband when he came home. Anyway, they did ask me to come back, my supervisor was understanding, and my license is intact. So nothing much worse could happen from there. You will survive! Take it from someone who knows. :D



36 Posts

laryn, i have been a nurse for five years now and i have to say that i feel like i am a solid nurse. but, even after all that time i know that i am still a baby compared to the nurses that have 20, 30+. anyway, the thing is my philosphy is to stay humble, that i will never know enough because i am not GOD. just when i start to get really cocky and think i am supernurse i pick up a narcotic just last night and realize as i do my three check system ; (look at it when i pull it out, look at it when i am signing it out and look at it when i put it back in the cart); my patient had two narc's in the draw and i had her routine in my hand not her prn. in those moments, my heart stops, my stomach drops, and i realize how human i really am. i thank God that he saved my behind yet again, and stay humble.. i don't care how stupid i might sound, i always obtain as much info from seasoned nurses around me. because ultimately it is my patients' well-being i am there to enhance and maintain. if i can do it you can do it!



72 Posts

When the confindence comes, I believe depends very much on what level of hosp. you are working at.And new nurses that I have seen with "tons of confidence", are the ones that can be dangerous! Fear can be a good thing, by keeping even seasoned nurses on their toes! If you think you have seen and experienced it ALL, just watch what comes thru the door next!I work with many nurses that are very seasoned and we all still ask opinions of each other, two minds ARE better than one. Good Luck and always be willing to learn new things, ......imaRN



55 Posts

Originally posted by Lauryn:

I am just about to start my last year of nursing school. Even though I have had PLENTY of clinical experience....I still need to know....WHEN DOES THE CONFIDENCE COME?

Hy Lauryn:

Hang in there is right. I have bben nursing for 24yrs. The confidence factor came gradually. There are times I have a slump in the confidence dept. I believe it helps to keep me humble. I don't want to become complacent or think I know all or think I am indispencable. You have come this far; you will go even farther.

All the best to you in your nursing career. :)

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