Looking too young to be an RN - page 2

Hello everyone! :nurse: I just wanted to hear what input anyone has on my so-called "dilemma." I am a 21 year old senior nursing student so I will be 22 when I graduate. I have worked as a... Read More

  1. by   kmarie724
    I don't really have any advice, just sympathy. I'm 24 (turning 25 tomorrow) and look a lot younger than my age. Lots of times when I mention my husband people say "are you even old enough to be married????" and I just smile and say "yep, I'm a lot older than I look, I'm an old married lady." Just hold your head high and conduct yourself in a professional manner, and you'll do fine.
  2. by   BrieRN07
    Quote from Amagine29
    Hello everyone!

    I just wanted to hear what input anyone has on my so-called "dilemma." I am a 21 year old senior nursing student so I will be 22 when I graduate. I have worked as a student patient care tech at a large university hospital so I feel pretty comfortable in interacting with patients. I have come a long way since working in this role for almost 2 years as I am a generally quiet and soft-spoken person. When called, I am not shy about having to re-direct my patients.

    My problem is that I look very young. I hear it from co-workers and patients about how young I look. Patients always tell me that I look like I am still in high school 15-16 yrs old or look like one of the other RNs daughter. One of the older PCTs says that I'll be a great RN some day but that I just look sooo young that I may not be taken seriously.

    I don't take it personally and tell myself it is a good thing and would appreciate it when I am older. However, it does get kind of tiring hearing this over and over again. Working as a tech patients enjoy and seem to feel very comfortable having me take care of them. (The majority of the patients are elderly.) I am not sure how it may change when I am their RN though. It makes me nervous about gaining the trust of patients, co-workers, and doctors when I do start working as a new grad. I want to be taken seriously especially since I would like to work in an ICU setting and once I get my skills down go to school for my NP degree in the future.

    I obviously cannot change my looks but does anyone feel like I do? Any students or RN who are or were in the same position and how did you deal with it?

    Whew...it was great to write this all down since it has been on my mind for a while...any input would be awesome...thanks for reading! :wink2:
    I'm in your exact situation... I'm a senior and I'll be 22 when I graduate. I am just overly professional when I'm working to "compensate" for my age. No one believes me when I tell them I'm married!
  3. by   PeachyERNurse
    Quote from Amagine29
    Hello everyone!

    I just wanted to hear what input anyone has on my so-called "dilemma." I am a 21 year old senior nursing student so I will be 22 when I graduate. I have worked as a student patient care tech at a large university hospital so I feel pretty comfortable in interacting with patients. I have come a long way since working in this role for almost 2 years as I am a generally quiet and soft-spoken person. When called, I am not shy about having to re-direct my patients.

    My problem is that I look very young. I hear it from co-workers and patients about how young I look. Patients always tell me that I look like I am still in high school 15-16 yrs old or look like one of the other RNs daughter. One of the older PCTs says that I'll be a great RN some day but that I just look sooo young that I may not be taken seriously.

    I don't take it personally and tell myself it is a good thing and would appreciate it when I am older. However, it does get kind of tiring hearing this over and over again. Working as a tech patients enjoy and seem to feel very comfortable having me take care of them. (The majority of the patients are elderly.) I am not sure how it may change when I am their RN though. It makes me nervous about gaining the trust of patients, co-workers, and doctors when I do start working as a new grad. I want to be taken seriously especially since I would like to work in an ICU setting and once I get my skills down go to school for my NP degree in the future.

    I obviously cannot change my looks but does anyone feel like I do? Any students or RN who are or were in the same position and how did you deal with it?

    Whew...it was great to write this all down since it has been on my mind for a while...any input would be awesome...thanks for reading! :wink2:


    I know how you feel. I'm 26, and people STILL tell me I look like I'm 17 or 18. For God's sake I've been outta high school for almost 10 years! As a PCT, I've had patients actually ask me if I'm "old enough to be doing this (vitals, accu-checks, etc.)?" I can only imagine how it's gonna be when I'm an RN.
  4. by   momx4
    This is what I do.....I smile and say "Thank you, you made my day." I am 31y and I am always questioned on my age especially when people find out I have 4 kids. They say "when did u start, where u 2 ?" I laugh and say "yes, I knew what I wanted early in life, a family. "They say I look 21-22y,even I have gotten teenager but I know that's exaggerated,lol. It used to bother me, but not anymore. To be honest I am flattered and I hope it will last for alittle while longer. Be professional, confident, and knowledgeable and people 's respect will follow. People always know when you really care no matter what age you are.
  5. by   sddlnscp
    I have to agree with many of the previous posters. Try a different "older" make-up style and dress professionally, avoid younger fashions while at work (even with scrubs there seem to be a variety based upon age). Try a professional hair-cut and/or style.

    Most importantly, even if your looks are young, be mature in your attitude and that will go a long way. I know of a nursing student who is in her 40s and looks waaaaay younger than me - but it's not her looks so much as her actions that make her appear so young. She has a very immature attitude about her. She is very giggly and unsure of herself. Don't get me wrong, she is very sweet and I like her very much and I in no way mean to belittle her. It's simply an example and people tend to feel uncomfortable around her because of it.

    Simply show your knowledge in your actions and attitude, that is what will gain you respect more than looks can ever do. Have good posture, hold yourself well, and always act professionally. Be thankful that you look young. I look older than I am and trust me, that is not near as much fun. I am not 30 and have the tell-tale crow's feet around my eyes from smiling too much and I sport stray grey-hairs. Enjoy your looks, but be wise and that will get you far.
  6. by   Pat_Pat RN
    Short hair usually makes a woman look older, at least in my perception. I'd agree on wearing plain scrubs (and not those "hip huggers", no matter how good you might look in them)
    Glasses are another possiblility. (and get one of those beaded chain things to hang them from when you're not using them, that screams "old lady"!)
    I assume you're short-ish, usually people don't assume a 6' woman is young. Not much to do about that.
    Different makeup might make a difference, as others have said. Maybe some dark rings under your eyes? )
    (Now take this with a grain of salt) If you are at or over your optimum weight, try losing a little. "Fluffy" people look younger. I know there are a bunch of women reading this, so I'll end there....
    Seriously, how you handle yourself and your work attitude will show your "professional age".
    Keep your head up, you'll look old soon enough!
    Pat
  7. by   traumaRUs
    Pat pat - I'm laughing so hard, my "old lady" glasses almost fell off (good thing I have that chain thingie)>) Tee hee hee!!!!

    I was hired last year as a new-grad APN because the powers that be (MDs and administrator of the practice) thought I was in my late 30's. tee hee hee! I was 48!

    I don't really think I look that young - I have a son who is 26!!! However, I will take whatever compliments I can get.

    Now let me see where did I put that darn hearing aid???

    (traumarus takes her "fluffy" self and exits quickly)
  8. by   carolinapooh
    Quote from Amagine29
    Hello everyone!

    I just wanted to hear what input anyone has on my so-called "dilemma." I am a 21 year old senior nursing student so I will be 22 when I graduate. I have worked as a student patient care tech at a large university hospital so I feel pretty comfortable in interacting with patients. I have come a long way since working in this role for almost 2 years as I am a generally quiet and soft-spoken person. When called, I am not shy about having to re-direct my patients.

    My problem is that I look very young. I hear it from co-workers and patients about how young I look. Patients always tell me that I look like I am still in high school 15-16 yrs old or look like one of the other RNs daughter. One of the older PCTs says that I'll be a great RN some day but that I just look sooo young that I may not be taken seriously.

    I don't take it personally and tell myself it is a good thing and would appreciate it when I am older. However, it does get kind of tiring hearing this over and over again. Working as a tech patients enjoy and seem to feel very comfortable having me take care of them. (The majority of the patients are elderly.) I am not sure how it may change when I am their RN though. It makes me nervous about gaining the trust of patients, co-workers, and doctors when I do start working as a new grad. I want to be taken seriously especially since I would like to work in an ICU setting and once I get my skills down go to school for my NP degree in the future.

    I obviously cannot change my looks but does anyone feel like I do? Any students or RN who are or were in the same position and how did you deal with it?

    Whew...it was great to write this all down since it has been on my mind for a while...any input would be awesome...thanks for reading! :wink2:

    Ooh, I could have written this - I am 33 years old and in an accelerated program. I get told CONSTANTLY that "I couldn't know that" or "I'll find out soon enough" or "don't worry - you're not there yet" by people who cannot possibly believe that I am four months away from my 34th birthday. (I looked one of them who was particularly patronizing right in the eye, smiled and said, "Well, if I WERE going to lie about my age, I would certainly say I was in my twenties and would not own up to facing my mid-thirties, wouldn't I?" I get told, "Oh, one day you'll appreciate it as a complement" - well, while that may be true when I'm fifty and hopefully look 30ish, it's not true now - as you know, it's annoying and you feel insulted and patronized. It also annoys me that they assume that 20 year olds are idiots with no life experience - something else we know is NOT true - and I assume this based on the way I get spoken to. This happens to me if I wear solid scrubs, print scrubs, business suits...I've cut my hair, grown it out, worn it up, worn it down - I get the same reaction. And I certainly don't act immature - if anything, I get told I act too OLD!

    I used to hear the "you must be 16" when I was in my early 20's - and I KNOW how you feel....

    I have very little advice....I just sort of put up with it and laugh to myself at the people that must be really annoyed by the fact that I'm so much older than they think and how they must go home and stare at their reflections, looking for another gray hair (I have gray roots - I dye them - can you imagine how insane it would be if I didn't?) or another line around their eyes. And I wear what I want, since they're going to think I'm twelve anyway. I have learned to enjoy it when folks say, "You're HOW old?"

    And for the ignorance I encounter when I'm out shopping (it happens - it cracks me up when some snotty saleswoman asks for my ID and she realizes that 1- it really is my Amex card and 2 - she really DOESN'T have a daughter my age because I'm WAAAYYY older than she thought) - hey, that's not my insecurity, it's theirs.

    I stand corrected - I do have some advice. Your actions and demeanor will, at some point, speak louder than your appearance. You sound very driven and know where you want to be and how you want to get there - intelligent people will pick up on that. (Given that you're a nursing student, a bit of thought should tell them you can't possibly be sixteen. I love watching someone's face when I KNOW that, based on something I've said, they are now trying to figure out how old I am...To me, the well-meaning complements that I know you get - I get them on occasion - are NOT complements, they're patronizing - but they also reveal personal insecurities. You can't do anything about that. It could also be that they are surprised you're only in your 20s d/t your professionalism and abilities.) That's what you should worry about - how you act and project yourself; how you speak and what you know will go a long way to showing your professionalism and your seriousness and your dedication. (No disrespect to the PCT you mentioned, because I would NOT want their job, but that person will not be making the decision to hire you.) That's my weapon. I also think that what you will find (as I have) is that you will NOT judge people based on their appearance age-wise - I am no judge of age because I know I don't look mine.

    I like my pink scrub top with the dancing hippos (don't ask) because I'm a fun and lighthearted person - and I will continue to wear it. I wear professional makeup, always wear my hair up and out of the way, keep my nails nice and short, and even press out my scrub tops (that would be my military background coming out; I can't stand feeling unpressed). I make sure my shoes are clean and free of scuffs. I'm on time - even a bit early - and I am always prepared with everything I will need for the day. I don't make excuses and I accept responsibility for any mistakes or oversights I make (proud to say there have been VERY few so far!). I accept criticism professionally and critically and actively seek feedback on my performance. I've been blessed with wonderful instructors and I seek them out as mentors. I've always been like that and that won't change about me. So if people want to judge my by my SCRUB TOP instead of what I know or the care I give (and I've gotten many complements from instructors AND patients on that note) there's not much I can do about that. It WILL grate on you from time to time- I know, I understand. But like I said, THEY'RE the ones that go home and worry about their crow's feet - not me. Genetically I got lucky, and I'll hold on to this luck as long as Mother Nature lets me, which hopefully will be a while since my sister is 43 and has been carded for alcohol!

    If all else fails, suck in your breath, hold your tongue, and just think how jealous these folks must be - whether it's true or not, it WILL get you through the moment!

    On a funny note, my husband and another couple and I went out to a pub (I live in Durham, NC - we're surrounded by colleges and universities) and someone was carding at the door. He let EVERYONE in our group through but me - and he GRABBED MY WRIST as I approached him and said, "Hey, I need to see your ID." I looked at him, asked him to let go of my arm (I knew he was about 22), put my own hand on my husband's arm (because he looked as though he was going to deck this guy) and as I pulled out my license, I said, "You shouldn't grab people like that, and you should also respect your elders." He almost had a stroke when he saw the license said 1973...
  9. by   carolinapooh
    Quote from Pat_Pat
    Short hair usually makes a woman look older, at least in my perception. I'd agree on wearing plain scrubs (and not those "hip huggers", no matter how good you might look in them)
    Glasses are another possiblility. (and get one of those beaded chain things to hang them from when you're not using them, that screams "old lady"!)
    I assume you're short-ish, usually people don't assume a 6' woman is young. Not much to do about that.
    Different makeup might make a difference, as others have said. Maybe some dark rings under your eyes? )
    (Now take this with a grain of salt) If you are at or over your optimum weight, try losing a little. "Fluffy" people look younger. I know there are a bunch of women reading this, so I'll end there....
    Seriously, how you handle yourself and your work attitude will show your "professional age".
    Keep your head up, you'll look old soon enough!
    Pat
    The thing is, in my opinion, at some point it fails to be the young-looking person's problem.

    I'm 5'6", in good shape and certainly not "fluffy", which to me is irrelevant....I've been in the military and worked in clinical research, so I've worn uniforms and business suits...I don't have hair hanging in my eyes - I don't like my hair short-short but I always wear it pulled up....at some point how you look becomes the other person's problem, not yours - because you can't change your face or your genetics. I don't dress like a teenybopper (because I'm not) and I don't think the OP is either. But I've conducted personal "experiments" and have found that, unless I go out with one of my nieces in tow (does a kid "legitimize" you?), I get treated the same way. If I'm in a suit, well, I must have had a job interview (and have actually been asked that before when I would leave my office and stop at, say, the Estee Lauder counter at the mall - "how did your interview go today?" WHAT???!). If I'm in jeans, I get treated the same way. So at some point I've done all I can do, and other people's hangups and personal misgivings aren't my problem anyway.

    There's a limit to what you can do about your appearance - which is why at the end of the day, your actions are what speak the loudest about you, and I just smile to myself and thank God I'm not that insecure.

    Advice to the twentysomethings - do what I did and STAY OUT OF THE SUN - I'm sure that has helped. Although I've seen fifty year olds who look older than my 72 year old mother.
  10. by   babsnchrist
    Um, oh well you've worked so hard to get to where your at today. Your looks is their problem. I'm sure you get nice comments as well as annoying ones about your looks. Matter is, you've worked hard and must have done something good to get where you're at today. As long as you're a good nurse, who cares. Are you helping people? Do you follow the rules? Don't worry about what they think and say, you just keep doing you. You go, girlfriend!
  11. by   2grumpy1
    My whole family has this problem, especially the females. My cousin who is a veterniarian is 30 years old, but only 4 foot 9 inches, she carries her birth cert. everywhere becuase no one believe she 30 or a Dr. Anyway it has a lot to do with how you present yourself and the confidence you emit about what you are doing, not your appearance! So with time and experience you will do fine.
  12. by   carolinapooh
    Quote from babsnchrist
    Your looks is their problem. I'm sure you get nice comments as well as annoying ones about your looks. Matter is, you've worked hard and must have done something good to get where you're at today. As long as you're a good nurse, who cares. Are you helping people? Do you follow the rules? Don't worry about what they think and say, you just keep doing you. You go, girlfriend!
    EXACTLY!!!! Especially the very first sentence....
  13. by   lilypad2424
    Imagine you were only four feet tall and get back to me

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