How To Avoid Imposter Syndrome As A NursePreneur
How To Avoid Imposter Syndrome As A NursePreneur

Ahh, the imposter syndrome . . . Remember when you were first an RN and they took you off orientation kicking and screaming? You weren’t ready, you needed more time!

But they kicked you off anyway and you learned your role. You are in the same position now. However, there is no orientation for NursePreneurs.

You need to learn the rules, the basics and the people around you. Everything else will be learned through your experience—and that takes time and effort.

From the point when you officially start until your first sale may seem like a lifetime away but you will get there. In the meantime, you may suffer from imposter syndrome.

The imposter syndrome is not something new or relevant only to nurses, it is common and well-studied. It is a phenomenon whereby a person has an internal experience of not belonging or not being good enough to belong.

Do not take this feeling lightly! It needs to be validated and acknowledged.

You may feel like you are smart enough or good enough to be where you are. You may think that you got where you are based on luck or by fooling others.

There may even be a sense that people are overestimating you and you don’t belong. You can find innumerable reasons for negating any external evidence to the contrary that you don’t belong.

My advice is to allow the feelings to wash over you, but don’t let them take over you. We all feel an enormous sense of “OMG, what am I doing?” The thing with being a NursePreneur is this. People will assume you are supposed to be in your role unless you make them believe otherwise. What I mean is, don’t let your potential customers see you sweat. You will make them nervous.

People want to believe that you are an authority, and if you are working on something they don’t know about, then you are.  The hardest part of starting out as a NursePreneur is believing you have a right to be there.

You are just going to have to come to some level of consensus that you had some role in success getting to the level where you are. You have to believe that being wrong or not knowing something does not equal failure or make you a fake.

As a new NursePreneur, you are on a steep learning curve. You have to acknowledge the knowledge deficit you have and recognize the effort you need to reduce the gap.

In the larger context of the world, nobody really knows what they’re doing, which can be both comforting and discomforting.

People are always learning, trying, failing, succeeding and starting all over again. Any stage that you are in has nothing to do with whether you belong or not.

Nursing, in general, has this complex of not belonging at the table for important decisions being made in healthcare. It’s important to embrace the feeling of being an imposter and know we all feel it.

I have a PhD in Nursing, this does not mean I am anymore an expert than you are in chess or wine tasting, or working as an NP on a trauma service. We would have the same learning curve to overcome.

Though I imagine I know more than just about anyone about a return to work patterns in patients aged 18–65 who suffered from a grade I subarachnoid hemorrhage one-year post-injury.

Do I qualify to be a NursePreneur?  Based on my knowledge expertise–NO! But I’m willing to work hard, learn what I need to know, acknowledge when I don’t know something, embrace my imposter-ness and be resourceful in finding the answers I need. No one really expects much more.

Defining the role of the NursePreneur

You will find as you are advancing through the stages of competency and becoming the subject matter expert that the role of the NursePreneur becomes increasingly less defined instead of more defined. I see this as a huge positive!

This opening, if you will, allows NursePreneurs today to pioneer roles that may not yet exist.

When I first started out on the neurosurgery service, I only did discharges.

The neurosurgeons did not know what else to do with me. The residents saw me as a dumping outlet of things they didn’t want to do.

I embraced this position because I began taking on bigger and bigger tasks. You have to build the foundation strong to keep going up.

As I became more proficient in the tasks I was given, I was simply given more opportunities.

The neurosurgery residents would say, did you ever try this? Or do you know how to do that? Why don’t you come down to the OR for a bit, etc.?  I just kept adding on skills. It’s like when you learned about compounded interest in school.

Saving a little bit of money in the short run might seem pointless, but as the little change adds up quickly it starts compounding at higher rates even faster.

Then I went on to open my own first assist practice. I worked with the neurosurgeons in exchange for billing my own cases.

I didn’t know much about business at the time, but I had to put on the front for the neurosurgeons, so they would trust me. Ultimately they didn’t care if I knew the business, they just cared if I would show up for the case.

The same will be true with your knowledge and skill set as a nurse. If you focus your business on your expertise, then the business skills will come as you chip away it.

You don’t have to learn one thing at a time. You should be learning many things simultaneously. It will take a bit longer, but you will better for it.  When you become competent in one area, either focus on areas that are not as strong or start looking for knowledge and skills that will complement what you do.

NursePreneurs are desperately needed in healthcare, they push the limits of what nurses can do and promote our expertise.

I want to keep pushing the limits. I would encourage you to do the same!!

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