You look too young to be a nurse

  1. 4
    Is something I hear from my patients constantly. I'm petite with I guess a lot of people consider a "baby face". I am told a lot that I look like I'm in my teens. Thanks? It used to not bother me, but now I think it's rude even if it is meant as a compliment. Why do you think it's okay to ask me how old I am or comment on the way I look? What if you walked up to a bank teller or a mechanic and demanded to know how old they were? It also stresses me out because I feel like I have to work that much harder to earn the patient's trust once they say that.

    What I'm asking is, what would a good/appropriate response be when a patient asks my age/comments on the way I look?
    rubylipstick1, theleaf, Joe V, and 1 other like this.
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  3. 39 Comments so far...

  4. 12
    I sometimes think patients ask personal question to place them on even grounds when they feel you, a stranger, has all this personal information on them and they have nothing on you.....making them feel frightened and vulnerable. They try to make the "relationship" somehow more "personal".

    I would just laugh and tell them "why thank you......I am much older than I look.......my parents gave me good genes.....and to think what some poeple would pay for this...." and smile sweetly.
  5. 7
    When I tell many of our parents that I have worked in my unit for 27 years I still get...did you start when you were like 12? Just laugh it off and say....one day I'll be so glad to be hearing this lol Just like the surgeon who did one of my daughter's knee surgeries....I said...jeez...I think I could be your grandmother and he laughed and said, Just call me Doogie lol

    Don't let it bother you, they could be saying or calling you worse things!
    on eagles wings, RED1984, SwansonRN, and 4 others like this.
  6. 6
    I fear this is my future. A cashier at a store refused to sell me a video game rated "M" the other day because I couldn't find my ID and she couldn't tell if I was over the age of 16. :/

    I've never minded being told I look "too young.". What I mind is now that I'm getting older, the phrase has turned into "Oh, you look so good for your age!" I'm 27. Am I supposed to be looking like hell already?
    theleaf, SwansonRN, pnut8377, and 3 others like this.
  7. 0
    i hear this question every week at work because i look young. I usually take it as a compliment and joke about how im gonna start carrying my drivers license on my id for patients to see my real age.
  8. 3
    "How old are you, anyway?"

    "Old enough to know I don't want to answer that question!"
  9. 4
    I believe that patient comments like this are usually masking deeper concerns - and in this case, rather than laughing it off I would try to take the opportunity to (respectfully) uncover them with a response such as "Are you concerned that I am not experienced enough to provide the care you need?" You could then provide them with information that would reassure them... " I have umpteen years of experience in MedSurg, certifications up the ying yang, .. and I am in continuous communication with your physician to address any additional problems you may have"


    Otherwise, you may get one of those nasty-grams via HCAHPS... the patient thought you were immature and flighty.
  10. 1
    they may feel vulnerable and want to be sure you are their advocate. Maybe some think of it as a compliment. Either way, smile and change the subject. I have been called worse.
    SwansonRN likes this.
  11. 3
    I always hear: "How much longer do you have in school?"
    theleaf, SwansonRN, and pnut8377 like this.
  12. 4
    I get that frequently when I tell people I have an almost 21 year old and an 18 year old. I've heard "You don't look old enough to have kids that age. Did you get knocked up in high school?" A LOT. Um, no.....I was 23 and 27 and married when I had my kids! When I was pregnant with my first one, I used to get such condescending stares and to make it worse, I was edemic so I didn't wear my rings. Yep, I looked 16 and pregnant! LOL

    I always reply with, "Thanks to good genes, I'm older than you think. "
    SwansonRN, merlee, nursel56, and 1 other like this.


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