How to Deal with Feelings of Inadequacy and Burnout as a Nurse

As a nurse, feelings of self-doubt and a lack of confidence in your profession are bound to come up every once in a while. Yet, if you find yourself with these types of feelings regularly, you may be suffering from nurse imposter syndrome. 

What is imposter nurse imposter syndrome? Nurse imposter syndrome is a common feeling among nurses, especially among new nurses, and can lead to feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. And while nurse imposter syndrome is a negative thought pattern that is unfounded, it doesn’t make the feeling any easier to deal with. Luckily, overcoming feelings of nurse inadequacy is possible. 

Why Do Nurses Experience Nurse Imposter Syndrome?

cubes that say imposter

The majority of nurses have one thing in common: They are high achievers and want to excel in their careers. Nurses also happen to be some of the most compassionate individuals in the world. In fact, the American Nurses Association (ANA) describes a good nurse as someone who “has a strong moral compass while providing care with integrity.” Hence, being a nurse comes with a lot of responsibility and high expectations, and the pressure to perform perfectly can lead to nurse imposter syndrome. 

Additionally, burnout in healthcare workers can create feelings of nurse imposter syndrome. According to the ANA, the definition of nurse burnout is the following: a serious job-related condition that is caused by unmanaged, chronic workplace stress. Moreover, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), nurse burnout can manifest the following symptoms:

  • Energy depletion and mental exhaustion
  • Cynicism and mental distancing from one’s job
  • Reduced work productivity 

How to Overcome Nurse Imposter Syndrome?

Feelings of inadequacy and burnout should not be taken lightly, especially in the field of nursing. Fortunately, becoming aware of your feelings and acknowledging that you may be experiencing burnout or imposter syndrome as a nurse can help you overcome it. Here are a few tips for overcoming nurse imposter syndrome and gaining back your confidence:

Reach Out

Consistent feelings of nurse inadequacy and imposter syndrome can lead to nurse burnout. This could indicate that it’s time to reach out for help. There are numerous resources for nurses who are struggling with mental health issues that can provide an outside perspective. Whether it’s speaking with a friend, mentor, or therapist, don’t be afraid to reach out and talk about your feelings. For a list of mental health online services and apps, you can check out the Top 10 Mental Health Resources That Nurses Should Know About. 

Keep Learning: Advancing Your Nursing Skills

While learning may feel like the last thing you want to do when experiencing feelings of inadequacy, taking up a new course in nursing or pursuing certification can be a great way to pull yourself out of a rut. That’s because not only is the nursing field constantly changing, but taking advantage of continuing education nursing courses can give you the confidence to adapt to new nursing practices. 

In addition, learning a new skill set by obtaining a new certification from an approved training program can help you feel like you are taking your power back. In the end, continuing education can boost job performance, increase job satisfaction, and keep you feeling motivated in your nursing career. 

Practice Self-Care 

Everybody everywhere needs self-care. When it comes to your mental health as a nurse, self-care is an essential ingredient to managing stress and reducing your risk of illness. As a matter of fact, studies show that self-care activities can improve well-being, prevent disease, and increase the chances of positive health outcomes overall. It’s no surprise, therefore, that nurses who take the time to engage in self-care activities can have higher resilience and an improved outlook on life. 

Self-care activities can include anything from eating well and getting adequate sleep to spending time in nature and practicing gratitude. Or it could mean setting some time aside to engage in your favorite hobbies. Ultimately, self-care is a necessary part of maintaining overall health and making sure your personal needs are being met so you have the energy to keep moving forward. 

Take a Nursing Break 

Feelings of nurse fatigue, loneliness, and burnout can be overwhelming. If you are a nurse and feel like these types of feelings are becoming unbearable, you may need to take a full break from nursing. Taking a break from nursing can look like asking your supervisor for a mental health leave, or if you think you are done with nursing, you can decide to resign from your nursing position. In either scenario, you shouldn’t feel guilty about taking a break from nursing. Believe it or not, taking a break from nursing is common and can help restore your mental health, reignite your passion, and remind you why you became a nurse in the first place. 

Recognize Your Success as a Nurse

Nurse confidence comes from within. Recognizing your accomplishments and giving yourself a daily pep talk and reminder of all that you have accomplished can reduce feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. And while it’s easy to focus on things you are not good at during a lull, take the time to review your successes. This can mean looking back at awards or prestigious certifications you have earned as a nurse or simply writing down a few positive nursing mantras that you know are true about yourself. An example of a positive nursing mantra could be, “I am making a difference, and I love caring for my patients.” Recalling past successes and acknowledging present achievements can reinforce that you are capable of achieving your goals. 

Nurses: Remember You Are Not Alone 

nurses all leaning in together

Overcoming feelings of loneliness, nurse inadequacy, and imposter syndrome is possible. So, wherever you are in your journey as a nurse, it’s important to remember you are not alone. It may take a bit of reflection, professional help, or reminding yourself of the challenges you overcame in the past to get there, but you will get there. 

Negative feelings don’t last forever, and taking care of yourself is the first step to giving you back that nurse confidence that will help you tackle whatever comes your way! 

Blog published on:
June 21, 2023

Meet Jenna, a contributing copywriter at Nursa who writes about healthcare news and updates, empathy and compassion for nurses, how to show staff appreciation and increase retention, and guides that help nurses navigate career pathways.

Related Blog Posts

See All Blogs
GO BEYOND A SINGLE JOB

Choose Multiple PRN Shifts on Your Schedule

Nursa isn't just about finding a job; it's about crafting your ideal work schedule by selecting shifts. Once you create a Nursa profile, you will experience the convenience of scheduling shifts in real-time.

Certified Nursing Assistant CNA - Skilled Nursing $25.28 per hour
CNA
Date
March 11, 2024
Hourly
$
25
Est. Total
$
36075
View Shift
00:00 - 13:00
Westlake Lodge Health and Rehabilitation Center
Certified Nursing Assistant CNA - Skilled Nursing $25.28 per hour
CNA
Date
March 12, 2024
Hourly
$
25
Est. Total
$
36075
View Shift
00:00 - 13:00
Westlake Lodge Health and Rehabilitation Center
Certified Nursing Assistant CNA - Skilled Nursing $25.28 per hour
CNA
Date
March 17, 2024
Hourly
$
25
Est. Total
$
36075
View Shift
00:00 - 13:00
Westlake Lodge Health and Rehabilitation Center

See More Jobs and Apply Now

Explore and find where you would like to work

See All Jobs

Pick Up a Job Today

Find per diem PRN job opportunities in your area. High paying CNA, LPN and RN and many more are now available now.

Find PRN Jobs

Post Your Jobs Today

Facilities who use Nursa fill 3 times as many open per diem shifts, on average, compared to trying to fill the shifts themselves.

Post Jobs
Nursa is no 1 mobile app for clinicians

Download the App Now