GHR Education Quick Apply GHR Live!

How to Overcome Impostor Syndrome in Nursing

March 21, 2024

Psychology Today describes that someone with impostor syndrome may “believe that they are undeserving of their achievements and the high esteem in which they are, in fact, generally held. They feel that they aren’t as competent or intelligent as others might think— and that soon enough, people will discover the truth about them.” 

This feeling is all too common for nurses, and it makes sense! Oftentimes, you come out of nursing school and enter the workforce with a few months of orientation, and then, suddenly, you have patients’ lives in your hands. It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed and daunted by the responsibility. And in no way does it make you any less capable of being a nurse. Because that IS what you are – a nurse. You studied, practiced, learned, and will continue to learn throughout your career. But you DID earn your place. First and foremost, remember to affirm that with yourself. You deserve to be where you are.  

Plus, it may feel isolating when you first get started, but you aren’t alone. All the other nurses you work with were once new grads, too, or found themselves in situations they feared they were unqualified for. Lean on them and go to them for support and guidance.  

Seeking support from your fellow nurses is one way to help combat those pesky feelings of impostor syndrome, but there are other ways to help you feel more confident in your role. Whether you’re a new nurse, transitioning to a new specialty, or a seasoned veteran struggling with self-doubt, this article offers actionable advice to help you navigate and overcome impostor syndrome in your nursing career.  


Challenge Your Inner Critic 

Our inner voice can be our worst enemy. When that voice whispers doubt, challenge it with facts. Did you pass the NCLEX? Check. Did you get that job offer? Check. Did you successfully manage that complex case? Check! Facts don't lie. Keep a running list of your accomplishments, big or small, to pull out when doubt creeps in. 


Focus on Your Strengths 

We all have areas where we shine. Are you known for your exceptional communication skills? Your critical thinking? Whatever your strengths are, own them! Use them to elevate your practice and the care you provide. For example, if you're a whiz at explaining things clearly, volunteer to mentor new nurses or take on patient education tasks. Allow your strengths to guide you into becoming a more confident nurse and contributor to your team. 


Embrace Lifelong Learning 

Nursing is a constantly evolving field. New technologies, treatments, and best practices emerge all the time. View challenges and new situations as opportunities to learn and grow. Take continuing education courses that focus on areas you want to develop or topics relevant to your current role. Attend conferences and workshops to learn from experts in the field. Network with other nurses to share knowledge and experiences. The more you learn, the more confident you'll become in your abilities. 


Celebrate Your Wins, Big and Small 

Did you master a new skill, like starting an IV on a difficult patient? Did a patient tell you they appreciated your calm and reassuring presence during a stressful time? Don't shrug these things off! Take a moment to acknowledge your accomplishments, no matter how seemingly insignificant. A simple "good job, me!" or a quick note in a journal can work wonders. Celebrating your wins, big and small, reinforces a positive self-image and helps build confidence over time. 


Seek Mentorship 

Find a seasoned nurse you admire, someone who embodies the kind of nurse you want to be. Approach them and express your interest in mentorship. A good mentor can offer invaluable support, share their wisdom and experience, and help you navigate tricky situations. They can also be a sounding board for your anxieties and self-doubt, offering a safe space to voice your concerns and develop strategies to overcome them. 


Don't Be Afraid to Ask Questions 

There's no shame in asking for clarification or admitting you don't know something. In fact, it's a sign of a strong and responsible nurse. A good team environment fosters open communication, where everyone feels comfortable asking questions without judgment. The more you ask, the more you'll learn and the more confident you'll become. Don't be afraid to clarify a doctor's order, seek advice from a more experienced colleague, or ask for help with a challenging procedure. Remember, even the most seasoned nurses encounter new situations and have to ask questions from time to time. 


Focus on Progress, Not Perfection 

Perfectionism is a recipe for imposter syndrome. It sets unrealistic expectations and ensures you'll always fall short, fueling feelings of inadequacy. Accept that mistakes are part of the learning process. Focus on continual improvement, not being flawless. If you do make a mistake, analyze what happened, learn from it, and move forward. A supportive work environment will provide opportunities to learn from mistakes and grow as a nurse. 


Take Care of Yourself! 

Again, for the people in the back... TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. This is one of the best pieces of advice you can receive as a nurse. Your job is hard. Really hard. Self-care is essential when it comes to coping with the demands of nursing. Remember: You can't pour from an empty cup. Prioritize self-care practices like healthy eating, exercise, and getting enough sleep. A well-rested and balanced you is a more confident and effective nurse.



It’s not uncommon for nurses to experience imposter syndrome, but it doesn't have to hold you back. By implementing these tips and building a strong support system, you can silence the inner critic and embrace your role as the capable and caring nurse you are.

Explore Nursing Opportunities


Search, manage, and apply to healthcare jobs across the US.

With GHRLive!, your career is in your hands. Literally.


Download_on_the_App_Store_Badge.svg.png google-play-badge.png







Subscribe to GHR's Blog Newsletter

Your submission was successful.

Thank you for subscribing — we'll be in touch!