SEEK: Salford Environment for Expertise and Knowledge

Journal Article (Refereed)
April 2012

Understanding the influences on self-confidence among first-year undergraduate nursing students in Ireland

Chesser-Smyth, P & Long, T 2012, 'Understanding the influences on self-confidence among first-year undergraduate nursing students in Ireland', Journal of Advanced Nursing, 69(1), pp.145-157.


Aim.  To report a mixed-methods study of the development of self-confidence in Irish nursing students undertaking the first year of an undergraduate nursing programme.

Background.  Self-confidence underpins nurses' competence to carry out care effectively, yet there is little empirical evidence of how this attribute is fostered in pre-registration preparation. There is an assumption, however, that self-confidence develops independently and spontaneously.

Design.  A sequential, mixed methods three-phase design was used.

Method.  The design involved pretest and posttest measurements of self-confidence, focus group interviews, a student self-evaluation questionnaire and analysis of the relevant curriculum content. Data were collected between September 2007-April 2008 and sampling was from three cohorts of students at three different Institutes of Technology in Ireland. Data collection matched the nature of the data, including descriptive, non-inferential statistics and qualitative content analysis.

Results.  There was considerable variation in the amount and nature of theoretical preparation. Factors in clinical practice exerted the most influence. Self-confidence fluctuated during the first clinical placement and as students' self-confidence developed, simultaneously, motivation towards academic achievement increased. Conversely, self-confidence was quickly eroded by poor preceptor attitudes, lack of communication, and feeling undervalued.

Conclusion.  The development of self-confidence is complex and multi-factorial. This study offers further understanding of facilitators and barriers that may be relevant elsewhere in promoting student nurses' developing self-confidence. The development of self-confidence must be recognized as a central tenet for the design and delivery of undergraduate programmes.


SEEK Members

External Authors

Patricia CHesser-Smyth

Publication Details

Journal Name
Journal of Advanced Nursing