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My confidence at year 3

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Sometimes I feel I am crippled as a nurse with self doubt—crippled in that it hinders my assessment skills and the confidence I have in them. I think this maybe goes hand in hand with being a new nurse, but I honestly I thought things would improve more drastically by now. After all, all of my peers told me that at 5 years I would feel more confident in my specialty…wait, it has only been three years! DUH!

Year one was a huge learning experience—and in a stressful way—for me. I questioned myself and everything I was doing…and I had a lot of hand holding as a new grad. While I didn’t feel very confident, I always had a back-up in my preceptor or fellow nurses who knew I was a newbie.

Year two I definitely got more confident. My assessments were done more quickly, I was able to spot potential problems before they occurred and act more efficiently in the face of a crisis. No longer did I dread shifts: I didn’t worry so much about what would happen in those upcoming twelve hours. I even felt a little cocky. And that’s not a good thing.

Sometimes I was lulled into a false sense of security that got me into trouble: I made my 1st med error, I reacted instead of responded, or I didn’t take responsibility for all of my actions and played the blame game. Yeah, I got knocked down a peg or two because things didn’t go right all the time and I wasn’t super-nurse. Yet I trudged on!

Year three finds me with more experience under my belt. I thought stupidly last year that I had seen it all. HA! Now I find that I question my practice even more. I am more careful than ever with my charting and my assessments. I’m always asking, “What’s wrong with this picture?” I have learned that getting a second opinion from my fellow nurses is a good thing. I am learning more about my specialty as I get more advanced certifications and I am finding I have so much more to learn. While I feel I am growing, I still really struggle with questioning myself. I look back at choices I made and wonder if I could have done any better.

This is all very humbling and overwhelming. The deeper I get into nursing the more I find that I have so far to go, so much more to learn. I have to run fast to keep up with the technology race. So my self-assurance has been stunted a little—it isn’t growing very quickly. I guess I’ll get out of this rut but right now it doesn’t feel very good. It must be all part of the learning process?
No one said nursing was easy, but I wasn’t quite prepared for this—and year 4 is coming. I wonder what it will bring.

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Amy Bozeman

Amy is many things: a blogger, a nurse, a wife, a mom, a childbirth educator. She started her journey towards a career in nursing when she got pregnant with her first child. After nursing school and studying "like she has never studied before" she entered the nursing profession eager to get her feet wet. The first years provided her with much exposure to sadness, joy and other complex human emotions. She feels that blogging is a wonderful outlet and a way for nurse bloggers to further build their community. Traditionally, midwives have handed down their skill set from midwife to apprentice midwife. She believes nurses have this same opportunity: to pass from nurse to new nurse the rich traditions of this profession.

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7 Responses to My confidence at year 3

  1. MaryAnn

    When I first graduated, I started working in the O.R. and during my rotation in orthopedics, I contaminated the back table 3 times before the procedure could start! I had serious doubts at that point about my future as a registered nurse, but after a few private tears, pulled myself up and kept going! Now, after 24 years with experience in OR, Med-Surg., ER, LTC, and Office nursing, I am not surprised by much, but I have yet to “see it all” !

  2. Amyjean

    I think we RN’s will always have challenges and doubts about our practice. Nursing is continuing learning process. We should not doubt our abilities but embrace them. There are always people or places where we can get support.

  3. Patty

    Year 1 as an RN almost complete, 2nd year as a nurse. Lost my mojo!. Going back to school in August, to work on yet another degree in Nursing. I think school is safer.

  4. Jenny

    I have been a nurse for about 18 years. Yes, the longer I am a nurse, the more confident I feel about my skills. I even love to teach other nurses on the floor. But one of the things I love about nursing the most is that everyday I learn something new. It is in no way a boring job. I just started tele nursng about 3 years ago. About 6 months to 1 year after starting one of my patients coded. When all was said and done, I asked the STAT team nurse “How long did it take you to get comfortable with telemetry?” Her response was “I’ll let you know when I get there.”
    Just continue to pursue education in regards to nursing practice and keep updated on the newest trends and you will do well.

  5. Ani Burr Scrubs Blogger

    Thank you for posting this! I am not out of school (YET!) but feeling the same way… and I’m realizing that it’s not going to get better. I feel like I’m on the right track, but still overwhelmed by everything. It’s always a relief to hear that I’m not alone… and that it will get better – eventually. Thank you so much for posting this! Best of luck!

  6. Ellie

    Thanks for the article! Just graduated and saying that I am nervous about entering the floor would be an understatement. I am so happy to have read this before I start, just knowing others have gone through the trials and tribulations and survived gives me more confidence to keep my head up and keep going!

  7. Nursepez

    You need to read Patricia Benner’s “From Novice to Expert”. It really helps you through the journey. I re-read it when I became an NP after 10 years as an RN. to go from expert to novice was hard, but as I gain confidence I can see myself progress again. Hang in there