At what point in a new nurse’s orientation or career do they start to feel confident in themselves as a nurse and their skills? The reason I am wondering is because I have a new graduate nurse who started a couple weeks ago and this is her main issue.
She has been on orientation for two full weeks now. Last week, she called me at home crying because she thought she was not doing well. She said that she took care of two patients that day and was feeling overwhelmed. She said she knew what she needed to do, but was constantly questioning herself.
I tried to explain to her that that was normal and that by comparing herself to her preceptor, who has several years of experience, she was only going to drive herself crazy. I told her that I would be more concerned if she felt confident or overly confident at this point in her orientation. I even used my experience as a new grad as an example, explaining that I didn’t feel confident until at least nine months AFTER orientation ended, and even then I was just happy I didn’t kill somebody whenever I worked.
I had the nurse educator on the unit talk to her and explain it to her. I also talked with her preceptors and made sure they were helping to build her confidence. I asked one of my new grads who had just reached her one year mark to talk to her, too.
It’s difficult getting through to new nurses sometimes. It’s been their dream for so long to be a nurse, and now that it’s a reality they realize they actually have people’s lives in their hands.
What I told her was true about being more concerned if she were over-confident. I have seen too many new nurses fail because of their cockiness. They end up facing the reality that they don’t know as much as they thought, or more likely doing something they think they know but really don’t and hurting a patient.
Mistakes are going to happen. She’s going to make an error at some point in her career. Being overly-cautious because of that fear is not going to change anything; in fact, I really feel it will make her even more likely to make a mistake.
How confident are you in your career?