Will I fit in with the other nurses?

  1. Greetings, folks.

    I am a 33 year old "pre-nursing" student.

    I have a few questions to ask about the work climate/culture of nursing...

    I'm female. Ordinary feminine "girly" female, though I have a committed relationship with another (equally girly) woman. My friends tend to be guys or "geeky"/academic type women, and on my volunteer stint, I hung out mostly with a guy nurse and the male staff, and didn't hit it off with the women. I've NEVER worked in female-majority work before being in medical, and I don't even know if I know how to work with women. I usually end up being excluded from cliques, and don't do well in work where there's aggressive social politics going on... I need to be able to just do my job and go home.

    I am basically a "geek" and a career changer. Previously, I worked in the fields of computer games, multimedia, and software applications. In the breakroom, casual chitchat would be on a variety of subjects from ancient Rome to Star Trek to current events, and it was perfectly okay to talk about things that make you a "bore" at most people's parties.

    As the web economy began dwindling, I worked in a grocery store, then in a small newspaper as a graphic artist. The change from "geekworld" to a more mainstream job was like being thrown into cold water. I found out for one that it's a major faux pas to bring up anything geeky around non-geeks, and that most non-geeks talk about the following: if male, what "things" they own or bought, and if female, what relationships they have, or frequently, badmouthing/gossiping about whatever female coworker isn't present. If I had to choose, I'd choose what the guys talk about.

    I really miss the social environment of my old work. But I did not really enjoy the work itself. What I really love is the medical field, and medicine/health care is the current thing I am really "geeked out" about. The only thing is that while I enjoy the work, I have radically different hobbies from my coworkers in almost all jobs but computers. I'm a science fiction writer, though not published yet; I used to play AD&D; I go to sci-fi conventions; I meet with a group of geeks for discussion and board games on a regular basis.

    I don't have social problems on the whole; in my various "extraverted" jobs I've gotten on well with my patients/customers/clients. It's the other coworkers that are an issue for me. I can work well with them while working. It's the "water cooler/break room" stuff that's an issue.

    It seems that the serious shortage of nurses might indicate that I don't have to play politics as much, but I'm HOPING that's the case.. I've had a few people tell me that hospital social politics are a million degrees worse than corporate social politics. I have my own friends and I don't need to be buddy-buddy with all my coworkers, or hang out with them socially, and I do better in workplaces where it's not required.

    I'm just wondering how I will do and if anyone has any suggestions for me.
    Last edit by fascinoma on Jan 9, '07
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  2. 15 Comments

  3. by   CIRQL8
    Be yourself. Share what you feel comfortable sharing when you feel comfortable sharing it. Don't participate in conversation that offends you or makes you feel uncomfortable. Still, though, don't act holier-than-thou. I think that you will get along with your co-workers. It's always tough 'making friends' in a new crowd. We're not kids anymore, but we're still sort of entering a new school, and all our friends were left behind at the old school. One day at a time. What else can you do, you know?
  4. by   SuesquatchRN
    I'm another systems geek who has become a nurse.

    Programming was great for me because almost everyone, including the women, was a nerd, like me. Nursing isn't the same.

    Just keep to yourself (without being standoffish) and do your job. You'll be fine.
  5. by   all4schwa
    i think you'll be just fine. as a new nurse you'll be too busy to concern yourself with most of this stuff, and most of your interactions will be nursing related. oh, and we're pretty geeky too!! hang out around here for awhile, but keep in mind a lot of folk show up here after work and do like to vent. but hey, what are friends for? just be sure to stay away from that kind of venting at work. you say that you haven't worked with a lot of females before, so be warned that they like to vent and for the most part, then they are over it. so, don't take any of it to heart, don't give your opinion and don't ever mention to anyone else what you may have overheard someone else saying. sounds simple enought, right? g.luck!
  6. by   bopps
    Just be yourself. Your coworkers may act like a bunch of highschoolers for a while but chances are they will end up respecting you for who you are. As long as you are a committed health care provider(which it sounds like you will be) things should be fine, as long as you are honest. Good luck and God bless you. You can do this!
  7. by   WanaBaNurse
    I'm just a starting nursing school so I can't answer your question whether or not you will fit in with other nurses, but I can offer some advice.

    You have placed women into two catagories...geeks (intellectual ones) and non-geeks (gossiper's). Since you see yourself as a "geek" you have already seperated yourself from everyone who doesn't fit the description of "geek". Other people probably see this in you. I would assume you maybe be making others uncomfortable which in turn makes you feel like an outsider.

    Here's my suggestion....I tend to have friends of all sorts whether it be gay, straight, self centered, smart, educated, "not so smart", rich, poor, etc... Each one of them has a quality (or a few) that I pick up on and really love about them. Their not all "just like me". Actually, some of them are nothing like me, but I still enjoy their company. I find that even though we're not "exactly" alike we still have some common bond that links use together whether that be we're both married, we're both moral people, we're both sarcastic people, we both love to work out etc...

    In the future, try to find that common thread with you and your co-workers. Don't worry about getting along with all of them (if you can do that you need to write a book on it) just pick a hand full. It can be as simple as a particular place you like to travel to or a brand of coffee that you LOVE to drink. From there you can build on the woking relationship.

    However, in the future PLEASE refrain from classifing women into groups of geeks and non geeks. I find that very sterotypical and tend to believe that I have both geeky, non geeky, and whatever is inbetween days and would really hate to know that someone felt that b/c I'm not going to a scifi convention that I must be backstabbing my best friend.
  8. by   SoulShine75
    Be yourself and don't try to be anyone else. Make your experience your own and work somewhere where you love it and not because of the people there. If you follow these principles then you should be fine. In every work place there is always gossip, negative people and those bad apples that spoil it for the whole bunch...female and male. On the flip side, there are also really great people too. I don't want to tell you not to make friends with the ones your work with, but sometimes it's best to keep everything professional. It wil make life easier on you in the long run. Don't get involved in others disputes and gossip...it breeds bad energy and one word spoken can be taken out of context and cause a miserable working environment. This applies to any job and any gender. Good luck. :spin:
  9. by   hope3456
    Its hard - you just have to grit your teeth and get thru it.

    This is one of the hardest parts of nursing for me and it was also the hardest part of nursing school.

    I worked as a CNA during nsg school on the tele floor - night shift. I tried very hard to be friendly, polite, helpful, ect. I never felt that I was disliked, but I felt that I didn't 'fit in.' Mostly b/c my coworkers were very 'upper middle class' and the mode of conversation during downtime was about going on cruises, getting pedicures at 'top rate' salons, buying new cars, ect. Most were married, lived in upper class neighborhoods, and that just wasn't my lot in life at the time - I was a student struggling to pay rent.

    The same thing went on in nsg school - I was one of the younger students and didn't have much in common with the others, of whom many were like the nurses I worked with. I had one instuctor tell me I was 'quiet' in my eval and had problems communicating, and I am somewhat introverted, but mostly I just feel that this is b/c I didn't 'fit in.'

    I got thru it and now work on the psych unit - partly b/c I feel I fit in with the other nurses there better. I live in a very suburban, upper middle class community - nicknamed 'vanilla valley' b/c there is very little diversity, or minority population. i would really like to live/work in a more diverse community.
  10. by   PeachPie
    What occasions would call for bringing up your geek girl lingo in the workplace? As long as you stick to your work, I doubt that most topics would come up.

    I too am a geekette with a rhetoric that make most people blink, but I've found that there are things beyond this personality that affect workplace relationships. Once I realized this, life became soooooooooo much better.

    The best thing in pretty much any work environment is to not feel like you have to fit in. You are there to work, not to make friends. YOU DON'T HAVE TO LIKE EVERYONE OR BE LIKED! Professional relationships and common courtesy are necessary, but being buddy-buddy opens up a whole new can of worms. Work is a whole separate world from other aspects of your social life. What may be best for work may destroy a friendship because too many people can't separate the two. Imagine that you're the manager of a branch, and that you have to downsize. Imagine that one of the weakest links is a friend of yours. Would you feel like a bad person, and would s/he feel betrayed, even though the firing has nothing to do with the friendship? Would you let friendship get in the way of what would be best for the company? I'm asking this to give a perspective of what's really important in the workplace.

    While I don't totally bar out friendships with coworkers, I find it best to be on more of a professional, slightly distant relationship with them. In other words, don't mix work and personal life. If you get buddy-buddy, there will be feelings of betrayal and other actions that result from actions that are best for the workplace. I'm not saying this always happens, but I've found that many people who go in trying to be popular and friendly and harmonious with everyone usually end up disappointed.

    This is an excellent article on social expectations and realities in the workplace, and different ways to avoid pooping where eating. Seriously, don't worry about being popular or liked. Keep the goals in mind, and don't let petty grudges, cliques, or popularity contests discourage you. Seriously, read it. It will tell you everything you need to know.

    Although this is a touchy subject, I will also mention gender differences. Men are taught to be competitive, so they are socialized to separate work and personal. If you ask a male friend an opinion about how you are doing in your job or something similar, he will usually tell you. If you ask a female friend the same, she will all too often sugar-coat the truth or say something along the lines of, "I'm afraid that my opinion would hurt our friendship." This is because women are taught to be social, and that thay have to be liked by people that they have no choice but to be around. Don't fall into that trap, whether you are male or female.
  11. by   VegRN
    Some people would classify me as a geek, so I can understand your concerns, however....your future job will end up being what you make of it.

    That being said, be careful about being too full of yourself and/or projecting how "different" you are to your coworkers and don't assume all "non geeks" are gossipy, mean, shallow people.

    For example, what is talked about in the breakroom where I work? Patient care issues, vacations, hospital policy changes, what everyone is eating for lunch......stuff that pretty much everyone can join into. Sure, there is gossip in any workplace but if you don't like it, don't join in.

    I think you are worried far too much about fitting in. Relax.

    Good Luck!
  12. by   moongirl
    one of my best friends is "geeky" and she found her niche in the OR as a scrub tech because she is extremely detailed oriented.. and there is no "water cooler chit chat" goin on in the OR. It was a good fit for her

    Good luck with your nursing, you will be great!
  13. by   Tweety
    There is such a wide variety of people in nursing from geeky, feminine to butch biker dudes, don't worry about what mold you fit in, as was said before just be yourself.

    People are going to judge your outsides and who they think you are, that's expected wherever you go. Doesn't mean you won't find a niche where you are happy.

    Good luck!
  14. by   Rme4life
    all of the advice is great. i am an older student. my first job in the army was a job that i would frequently be the only girl in the group. now it's more even and i can really relate to the dynamics of a work relationship between men and women. i thought i would have a hard time working with women but its been nice. i still tend to talk more to the men, but you would be surprised how many nurses are more like you than you think.

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