Building Confidence as a Holistic Nurse Coach

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When nurses ask me to be a reference for them, I ask them to provide me with their top 3 strengths and areas for growth. It’s not surprising to me that new nurses want to grow their confidence.

And who doesn’t want to grow in confidence? There is always a skill or attitude or behavior that we want to improve. Confidence feels good! There is even evidence that our increased confidence is good for the people we care for1. No downsides! Uh, except this: how can I be more confident without more experience?

Here are 3 things you can do to build confidence as you gain experience:

  1. Breathe!
    • Our body has many regulatory functions and breathing is one we can actually control.
    • Try an extended exhale to change your physiologic state with breathing: breathe in through your nose for a count of 4 then out through your mouth for a count of 6. Take 3 breaths like this and see how your body feels.
  2. Work your way up the emotional ladder.
    • Think of confidence as the top rung on the ladder.
    • What are some of the rungs leading up to confidence: sure, knowing, curious.
    • If you are feeling doubt, move to a neutral space emotionally and take a step up the emotional ladder.
  3. Look at how far you have come instead of how far you have yet to go.
    • Looking at your goal and how far you have to go can be daunting.
    • Instead, look back at where you started and notice all the things you have completed!
    • Take 3 minutes right now to make a list of 10 things you have accomplished, goals you have met or things you are proud of.

Bonus Strategy

Borrow confidence from another area of your life! You might be a new nurse, but you are probably expert in another area. Things that might seem unrelated on paper might reveal the mindset that you need to boost your confidence now!


Try this NLP Anchoring technique to condition a confident response.


Give these a try and let me know what you think!



  1. Yang, H. and Thompson, C. (2010), Nurses’ risk assessment judgements: a confidence calibration study. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 66: 2751-2760.
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