How do you cope with looking "too young" to be a nurse?

  1. Hi everyone. I'm Lacey, and I'm new to this forum!

    Anyways, I look young for my age. And being short as well doesn't help. I've had people beat me up emotionally for looking "too young" to be a nurse. They think I'm a teenager. People don't take me seriously at all, and it's hard to feel like an adult because of it. What are some ways to help me cope with this?

    Thank you.
  2. Visit LaceyRN12 profile page

    About LaceyRN12

    Joined: Sep '12; Posts: 102; Likes: 72
    from US


  3. by   suga_junkie
    Ah I know what you mean! I'm 23 and look about 16! I'm used to it though, people have been surprised to find out my age since I was 17 and it just keeps getting worse every year as I get older but still look the same! I have just finished my BSN and start my new RN job in January. I have had lots of patients on clinicals ask me how old I am etc, but that was never really a problem, maybe because I was a student and they expected me to be young etc. Now that I'm starting as an RN, I'm a bit worried I won't be taken seriously! I've found sometimes its a good thing looking young though, people tend to be a bit more patient or willing to help, probably because I'm like the same age as their daughters !
  4. by   LaceyRN12
    Quote from suga_junkie
    I've found sometimes its a good thing looking young though, people tend to be a bit more patient or willing to help, probably because I'm like the same age as their daughters !
    Yeah, I noticed that as well. I'm hoping nurses will be a little more patient with me and more willing to help because I look so young. I wonder what it will be like with patients.

    Thanks for your comment. : )
  5. by   born2circulateRN
    I've been questioned by patients and co-workers about my age, but not too many times - hardly happens. But, when it does I don't take it personally but take it as a compliment actually - it's never aimed at me negatively. But being younger, looking younger and being short does push me to be more confident and competent as a nurse. You can't let them see you sweat, especially the patients - they may think you don't know what you're doing. However, sometimes they may know you're a new nurse if you introduce it to them. But, if you have a question about something, ASK, never ever assume anything!

    And, I also agree with the first poster...looking younger and being a new graduate together sometimes does make co-workers be more patient with you; I just started orientation and all the co-workers are so nice and continue to ask if there is anything that I need - but at the same time, I don't want to be waited on too much while on orientation then be thrown into the wolves when I'm on my own. But, if you're confident, competent, and proficient (which will grow as you continue to practice - it won't just happen overnight) you will be fine and will be treated like an adult and a professional nurse.

    Good Luck!
  6. by   brown eyed girl
    I relish in it honey!!!!! I most definitely look at least 15 years younger than what I actually am. With that said, I do my job to the fullest! Without being rude or standoffish, I let them know that I am competent by the care I provide my patients and by answering theirquestions confidently. If you exude confidence and competence, they usually back off and respect you. I have found that once you do this, they begin to trust you and look forward to you caring for their loved one.
  7. by   GeneralJinjur
    There are people who will give you guff about being too young to do any job. Don't sweat it. I'm a newer nurse, but I have always looked young. I'm 40 now and the mid-twenties crowd think I'm their age. I'm sure I'll appreciate this trait when I'm in my 60s.
  8. by   LaceyRN12
    Thank you everyone for your comments. I will do my best to hold my head up high and stay confident. I will try to have the state of mind that no one can beat me down.

    GeneralJinjur, that's funny because everyone says, "Just wait until you're in your 40s. You'll love it." And now someone who is in their 40s tells me that they have to wait till the 60s to not feel insulted. I guess this will just be a chronic problem! Heh.
  9. by   SaoirseRN
    I am in my thirties and don't look it -- the freckles are both a blessing and a curse -- and I find the best way to deal with it is to look confident in what you are doing and be prepared. They'll either realize you are older than you look or think it's awesome that someone "so young" is so good at what they do.
  10. by   ukjenn231
    I have been getting this since I started as a tech at age 20 or 21...people thinking I'm a teenager. I'm now 28 and people still say I don't look old enough to be a nurse. I just smile and say, "I'm not as young as I look." And move on. It's not really been a problem for me... Just assert yourself and don't be self conscious about it
  11. by   aem31
    I'm 34. People usually say I look about 24 or so. Being a new grad didn't help as far as my coworkers were concerned. Many of them assumed I was in my early twenties because I look younger and am a new grad. It isn't a big problem for me. I don't feel a lack of respect or trust because of it. I just go in and try to let my actions speak louder than anything.
  12. by   madwife2002
    Trust me eventually you will mature and the young looking nurse will have aged, hopefully gracefully!

    I was a young looking nurse once and I just remained calm and professional, reassuring the concerned or worried that I knew what I was doing.
    Some older patients love having the younger nurse look after them as they feel that they can coddle them.

    I never had an issue after pt's and relatives realized I did know what i was doing.

    Remember years ago it tended to be that very young students came into nursing a lot of them would graduate at 21 after a 3 yr training. So would be 18 when they started.
  13. by   CT Pixie
    If you look younger than your years, I hate to say, you'll probably be dealing with this for a long time. I am in my early 40's and people tend to think I'm in my late 20's. I think its because I am very short. People have asked my age. I smile and say, well my oldest child is 20....and I wasn't a teen mom. They do the math and realize the youngest I can be is 40. I love the look of shock on their faces. I've never had anyone really have a problem with me or my work due to looking younger.

    I know its hard (I've been dealing with it forever) but try not to let them get to you. Just prove to them you are 100% capable of doing your job and they tend to feel more at ease. You'll embrace the 'compliment' when you are older
  14. by   SweettartRN
    It depends on who says it and how they say it. If its a 90 year old little old woman I smile and say thanks. If it's a co-worker or supervisor, I politely but firmly remind them that I am capable of doing my job, and that any implication otherwise is discrimination and I will not stand for it.