Confidence Building for Nurses

by, Lori Boggan, RN

I would like to call myself a bit of an expert on the subject of confidence.  Working as a travel nurse for many years, mine has been tested over and over again.  The one thing I have learned is that confidence comes and goes and that is perfectly ok.  Some days are better than others.  Travel nursing has forced me to learn new routines, try every new kind of IV catheter, learn each new unit’s policies, and adapt.  In the last five years, I have managed to find myself in another country and added the super challenging task of learning a new language to the list.  It has tested my confidence and given me the opportunity to reflect.  Here are just a few tips.

Develop Routines

There are certain tasks we as nurses do repetitively in our day to day work.  We take reports, check our monitors, calculate our drips, triple check our medications.  No matter how much time it takes initially, make these a part of your day to day routine.  It will be as subconscious as breathing eventually and once mastered, it leaves space for the most important task of critical thinking.  Why is my patient’s urine output low?  Why has my patient suddenly had multiple episodes of desaturation and apnea?

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again

So you didn’t get that IV or blood draw on the first stick?  Ask any honest nurse and they will tell you that it has happened to the best of them.  Having a bad access day does NOT mean you are a bad, incompetent, less worthy nurse.  It means today is not your day and that is ok.  Tomorrow is another day.


Asking a question is a sign of strength, not weakness.  No matter how small the question or how many times you ask, keep asking until you understand.  When starting in a new unit, whether you are a brand new nurse or a seasoned one, it is your duty to ask questions.  The ones to worry about are the ones that do not ask questions.

Never Stop Learning

That is why there is such an emphasis on continuing education hours when renewing your license.  Continuing education is critical.  There is always something new to learn or some change in research that may change your practice.  Be open to change.

Speak Up

If something does not seem right, follow your instincts and say something.  Chances are you are right.  Always err on the side of caution.  You will learn to trust your own intuition.  Perhaps speaking up can create a change in policy on your unit.

Leave the Bad Days Behind

So you were not super nurse today?  Today was not your day?  That’s ok.  You are only human.  There is no super nurse.  Anyone who pretends otherwise is kidding themselves. We all have had that day where you wake up late, spill your tea in the car on the way to work, walk into a frantic situation in the unit, and then are assigned said frantic situation.  You just want to turn right around and go back to bed.  Take a deep breath.  You will get through it.

While the list can go on and on, I think the most important thing of all is to remember that confidence comes with time and practice.  Each new environment and new job will test your confidence.  And remember, try not to compare yourself to anyone else.  Be the best nurse you can be.

LoriProfileLori Boggan, RN
Lori is a NICU Staff Nurse at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden. After becoming a nurse, Lori traveled across the country to work a three-month travel contract in San Francisco, California. Nearly five years later her journey continued to Gothenburg, Sweden, where she now lives and works. She also write her own blog Neonurse at