Ep208: You’re Not Lucky . . . You Belong Here (confidence in nursing school and as a new nurse)

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Struggling in nursing school?

NRSNG can help skyrocket your grades 🚀

In this episode Kati, Susan, and I talk about the role of confidence and self doubt in nursing.  This is a career field FULL of talented individuals and that can make us question ourselves.  In this episode we talk about ways to find additional confidence in your career.

I still remember it vividly.

The first day of nursing school . . . all of us brand new nursing students were brought into a room.

I looked around at the other students.

At that moment one thought took control of my mind . . . “how did I get into this program?”

Before starting school I had been told (like everyone) that nursing school is harder than any other type of schooling.  I was told that you are lucky to just get into a program.  Yet here I was . . .

I could help but think that somehow I was the lucky one.  Somehow my application slipped through the stack of more qualified students.  I just knew I was going to have to work harder and longer just to barely pass than anyone else.

You’re Not Lucky

This is a fallacy in human thinking.  We always assume that others around us are smarter, more prepared, better looking .   .   . just better than us.

We judge ourselves as “lesser”, “dumber”, “luckier” . . . than everyone else.

I want you to understand something:  You’re Not Lucky!

If you are just starting nursing school, a new job, a new role, or made an A in a difficult class.

It’s not because you’re lucky.  You deserve it!

As far as getting into nursing school.  Think about it this way, it’s not YOUR job to determine if you are qualified to attend a nursing program.  It’s the admissions departments.  If they have determined you prepared and ready to attend their school . . . that’s enough.

You can now let go of your self doubt and attack nursing school with a vengeance. . . you belong here.

How to Believe in Yourself

Here are a couple ways that you can control your self doubt and gain more confidence:

  • Take your thoughts captive.
  • Realize that the decision to accept you was already made by those qualified to make it.
  • Accept that failing doesn’t make YOU a failure.
  • Even if no one else believes in you . . .WE DO!
  • Work your ass off!

What are you struggling with in nursing school?

NRSNG supplements nursing school and helps fill in the gaps.  Search for a lesson inside NRSNG Academy below.

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Podcast Transcription

What’s up guys? My name is John Haws, RNC, CRN with NRSNG.com, where our goal is to give you the tools and the confidence that you need to succeed in nursing school, on the NCLEX, and in your life as a nurse. To help you succeed on this journey, we’ve created weekly cheat sheets that we send to you every single Friday. To sign up, head over to NRSNG.com/freebies. That’s NRSNG.com/freebies, and every single Friday we’ll send you a cheat sheet on pediatrics, OB, med surge, mental health, ICU, critical care, every single aspect of nursing care to help you succeed. That’s NRSNG.com/freebies. All right, now let’s roll into the show. What’s going on guys? Today I’m here with Susan and Katie. We’re all hanging out.


Hi guys!


We were just talking here. We’ve been here in Denver for the last couple days, kind of meeting and talking about everything here with NRSNG and we were talking about how the first day of nursing school is coming up for a lot of you, and one thing that we talked about is this thing that has, as people, as humans, a lot of times we tend to judge ourselves too harshly, and where that really comes into play I think is the first day of nursing school. I remember my first day of nursing school, we all went into a room, they kind of like locked the door and put all 30 of us there, or whatever, and they’re like, “This is the hardest experience of your life, turn off your life, turn off your family, tell your family you’re never going to see them again,” and stuff like that.


Yeah, I had 125 students that I was sitting in a room with, and they told us to look to our left, look to our right, neither of those people will be there at the end of your nursing school experience, so it was very terrifying.


I had a very similar experience. I don’t remember if they said those exact words, but it was I think 45 or 50 of us in an auditorium, and we’re all just kind of like scared, sizing each other up a little bit that they were saying a lot of us would not be there, and 16 of us graduated out of that like 45 or 50, which looking back is pretty crazy. It was kind of everyone thought everyone else was better than themselves. We always thought that we were the one that just snuck in.


Yeah, and I think that’s kind of the thing we were talking about. I think my human nature, we always assume that everyone’s better than us. That for whatever reason, like I’m the one who got lucky. Somehow I snuck under the radar, like they missed my application and somehow I just kind of slipped in. I remember feeling that in nursing school. I feel like I’ve felt it a lot of times, I don’t know.


I also get that feeling in any situation where I feel like I’ve represented myself in a really good light, and then the pressure is on for me to actually perform, and I’m like what if I can’t? Maybe they bought my story and thought it was really good, but it’s really not, so second guessing, kind of not thinking you’re as good in that same light.


I felt like that when I graduated nursing school, and then started my first job, and I was with my nurse residency program, and I was like, “All these people went to these bigger, better nursing schools. They know way more than me. I’m not going to do well. I don’t know this person and that, and I don’t know this system,” and then it was like, when you got down to it, we all didn’t know what we were doing. Even with our nursing degrees, or even these nurses from these amazing nursing schools, we all did have this level playing field where someone wasn’t this extraordinary nurse, it was like we all were still trying to figure out what the heck was going on.


Yeah, and with my first job too, I went to a small private school, and I felt the exact same way. When going into my first internship, I was like, “I just got lucky.” It was a trauma 1 level hospital, and it was in a different state than where I’d gone to school, and so I had no clue how I possibly could have been accepted into that, and I remember thinking that same thing sitting around talking with all the new interns. You’re trying to size each other up to see how am I here? Why do I belong? I don’t know.


I remember actually feeling super prepared, like I was going to walk into that meeting and maybe be better than somebody else for a moment because I had printed out all of my syllabi and I had everything labeled, and I was like, “I’m going to be ready for this,” and guess what? Everybody else was too, and that’s when it kind of hit me. They’re all as prepared as me, and maybe more, and then 1 of the girls that was sitting next to me one upped me, and I think that’s where my confidence totally plummeted, and she was like, “Oh yeah, I printed off the syllabus and I read all the chapters that were for week 1.” I was like, “I haven’t bought the book yet,” and I was like this is terrible. I’m never going to make it. I’ll be the one that’s gone at the end of this.


I think we all kind of at the beginning look for any reason to discount ourselves, because it’s a lot easier to do that than to say, “Hey, I think I can do this,” or have confidence in ourselves. It’s a lot easier to just bow out or, “I can’t do this,” instead of stepping up to the plate. It’s hard when you don’t know what the plate looks like or the ball field looks like to step up, but you wanted to go to nursing school, and this is day 1, and everyone’s scared, and it’s tough for everybody, so it’s good to remember that and to not count yourself out, make yourself feel like you’re the lowest of the low, because everybody’s feeling like that.


When I mentioned this when we were working on some posts here, you guys both said you felt the same way too. It’s crazy to think about that, that you know 3 nurses that have done well with their careers, that did really well in nursing school, that have done well in their jobs, all felt that same way. That’s the point. For whatever reason, we judge ourselves far harder than we judge anyone else. I think maybe it’s a defense mechanism. I don’t know what it is. How do you avoid that? We all know we’re going in there feeling that way. I guess that’s what we’re trying to get across with this discussion here is with nursing school staring right now, a new semester starting, or some of you starting for the very first time, how do you trust yourself enough to go with full confidence rather than … You’re never going to do as well if you’re doubting yourself every step of the way. How do we conquer that?


I think what’s really important is taking your thoughts captive, because I think a lot of us when we get in those situations, we let our minds run away with us, and then we just go down these really negative rabbit holes. It’s really important to stop that before it starts. When you walk in there and you sit next to a couple other people, and maybe they’ve got stuff printed out you don’t have printed out, or they have a book that, “Oh no, I forgot this.” Stopping that thought process before it gets out of control. If you start to think negatively about yourself, no. I was accepted into this school. I am going to step up to the plate. There might be some things that are going to be hard but you know what? I’m ready for this. I’m going to do the best I can with what I know, and that’s all anyone can ask. I’m going to show up. I’m going to work hard, and stopping those thoughts before they happen and before you beat yourself up and your confidence is shot. I think it’s really important to stay ahead of that so you don’t get to that.


Take those thoughts and know that you are in fact elite yourself, because you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t special or better than others. A lot of people didn’t get into the nursing school and you did.


Yeah, nursing school today is really competitive. Really getting in is really competitive, so the people that actually do get in, there’s something to be said for that. You should be proud that you’re getting into whatever school you got into, because it’s hard to get into any schools right now, honestly.


I think one thing we talked about before this too is you have to remind yourself, I think with nursing school, or with a job, or with anything in life, that it’s the nursing school’s job to determine who’s ready for nursing school. They’ve been doing this for decades. You’ve applied once to nursing school, so it’s not your job to determine if you’re ready, it’s your job to do all the prerequisites and prepare yourself, but in the end, if the nursing school deems you worthy of attending their program, that’s their job, and they’ve decided you’re ready, you’re capable, you’ve done everything required to succeed in their program. They don’t want to bring you in to fail, they brought you in to succeed.


Yeah, I think it’s important to walk in there remembering that, being confident, not cocky. You want to be confident and not acting … There’s that balance. You don’t want to be too confident, but you want to be confident in yourself and not being cocky. I think it’s kind of being humble, but really confident in yourself. It’s a hard balance to strike, but it’s really important to figure that out. Not just in this situation, but I think just in life.


Right, like when that girl said that she already read those chapter, and I hadn’t even bought the book, instead of thinking I haven’t even bought the book, I can be like, “Wow, I’m going to take that from you and run with it. Guess who’s getting a book and going to go read those chapters, and looking at my other syllabi and checking that out too.” Learn from everybody and realize that they’re all super strong players, and you can build off of each other and be strong together.


I think this is all good advice, and I would be the first to say that I haven’t mastered it myself. I walk into every situation very nervous, just automatically thinking that I’m somehow not as prepared, and maybe that’s a personal issue, I don’t know. I remember the first day after internship had ended, I got off the elevator and ran into one of the charge nurses, and I was like, “Are you sure I’m ready to have a patient without someone over my shoulder?” I didn’t feel ready. With NRSNG every day, every time I get on a podcast with anybody, it’s like why are people listening to me? It doesn’t make sense to me, but you keep going and keep doing the route, and every day you’re scared. Honestly, I am. I’m nervous every day with this, and Susan shared an experience too, with when you first started with NRSNG and with the team and stuff.


Oh my goodness. I am by far the least experienced nurse on this team, and I knew that going in, and I sized myself up before I even got here for our first meeting, and I was petrified to say anything, because I thought all of these nurses with all of these larger amounts of experience would know so much more than me, and I just don’t have anything to bring to the table, and that’s really not the case. John saw in me something that I didn’t even see in myself, and has pushed me to a potential that has made me go above and beyond, and it’s really, you have to take that and run with it.


Something John mentioned earlier that I thought was really profound too is, when you’re first meeting people, and nursing school is a lot of meeting people. Not just your classmates that you’re getting to know that first semester, but just constant new clinical instructors and everything. When you’re nervous and you’re new, and you’re just meeting people, you’re not super comfortable, and you kind of over-analyze people and their actions and stuff, so like John said, he’s a reserved kind of guy, so people can kind of read him as being standoffish at the beginning. Maybe someone would think, “Oh, maybe he thinks I’m stupid or something like that.” You always think the worst, but I think it’s important those first few weeks that you’re not over-analyzing how other people are treating you and using that to further push yourself down. I think that’s an aspect of this too.


Also realize that everybody’s thinking the same thing, so they’re not really analyzing you, they’re thinking about what everybody else thinks about them.


Yep. Absolutely.


I guess the biggest takeaway for you guys is to understand that you’re listening to 3 experienced nurses that felt this at the moment that you’re in, and still feel this today. While we haven’t mastered it, I guess what we want you to understand is don’t be so hard on yourself. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Nursing is difficult, it’s hard, and there’s going to be new experiences every day in your career as a nurse and just in life in general where you’re going to have to just step and just trust yourself, and just roll with it, and I think one thing we’ve talked about a lot before too as a team at NRSNG is, if you’re not scared, I think Taylor said it this morning maybe. If you’re not scared, you’re not trying hard enough. You need to go farther, you need to push yourself one step farther when you start getting comfortable.


We could extrapolate there a little more too, like those nurses that walk around over-confident on the floor, like those are the ones that scare me to death, because they’re not pushing themselves. That’s why each of us too in NRSNG, you’ll see we all have advance certifications or we’re going for them, or we’re going for new jobs. Susan is applying for a job at a huge hospital that’s scary for her, but it’s a new experience, and if you’re not doing those things, I think you really need to examine what you’re doing.


Or your purpose, I guess. Yeah, because when you get complacent, and you think you know everything, those are the most dangerous nurses, not those brand new ones that are like just learning how to do stuff. It’s the ones that are way overly confident and aren’t realizing the gravity of the things that they’re doing, or missing I guess.


Yeah. The takeaway guys, what we want you to take from this is just believe in yourself a little bit more. A tiny bit more. You can do it, and I think we all have room for it on that first day of nursing school, that first clinical, that first patient, that first preceptor. Take a deep breath, and realize you’re there because you deserve it.


Yeah, take that deep breath and hold your head up high.


The end. All right, all right, all right. I hope that was helpful today guys. I hope that gave you some motivation, some inspiration to go out and to be your best self, to go out and to become the nurse that you want to be. To make a difference, and to do the best work that you can. Listen, we’re here to help you along your way. At NRSNG.com, our goal is to give you tools and confidence to help you in nursing school, on the NCLEX, and in life. One of those tools we created is our Friday freebies, these weekly PDF cheat sheets that you can refer to on the clinical floor, in the classroom, and just throughout your entire career as a nurse. To get these cheat sheets, head over to NRSNG.com/freebies. That’s NRSNG.com/freebies. You guys, if you need anything, we’re here for you. You can reach out to us on social media or via email at [email protected] We want you to succeed, we want to help you along the way. We’re here to hold your hand, we’re here to give you the tools, the confidence that you need to achieve success in this journey to nurse. All right, so you guys know what time it is now. It’s time to go out and be your best self today. Happy nursing.