Can you actually be too emotional for nursing?


Currently, I am an LPN student doing my geriatric clinical rotation. Boy, oh boy, was the first day tough. I'm 21 years old with no previous medical experience. It was just a hectic day because I was so scared to hurt a resident. Now, I'm a couple weeks into my clinical, and I feel like an old pro. Now, there are things that I am witnessing in the nursing home that truly makes me just want to vomit (I'm referring to elder abuse). I have seen the CNA's, the LPN's, and even the charge Nurse treat the residents like complete crap. In one of the eating rooms, all the CNA's are talking loudly about who is in jail, who's baby daddy is doing what, and just laughing like hyenas while the residents are trying to enjoy a peaceful meal. Also, they sit around and just talk to each other about how annoying the students are and how they are always in the way. I'm curious how I'm in the way when they do nothing but sit and gab all day while I'm trying to be superwoman and answer the call lights (the nurses don't even acknowledge the call lights and they let residents scream for help all day long).

I know this may not be everywhere, but this is what I am seeing at the nursing home where we have our clinicals. Our clinical instructors notice it too but she says there is nothing she can really do about it.

My resident that I am assigned to, I adore her! I am so scared and terrified, that it keeps me up all night, that when I leave what is going to happen her. She is so kind to me and tells me that I am the nicest person she has ever met. At this very moment, I am worrying and just wanting to cry because I don't want anyone to be mean to her.

People have told me that I'm way too emotional to be a nurse; can you actually be? Everyone keeps telling me to get out of it because I won't last and it will only hurt me in the long run. There is nothing I want to do more than Nursing. I actually only got into it for the money and a program was available (frankly, it was just convenient at that moment in time) but I am noticing that this is something I actually want to pursue and further my education in. I truly believe this is what I was meant to do it. Hey, we all have to go through trials and errors to find our purpose in life.

So, from your experience, can one be too emotional for nursing?

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

226 Articles; 27,608 Posts

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 17 years experience.
In one of the eating rooms, all the CNA's are talking loudly about who is in jail, who's baby daddy is doing what, and just laughing like hyenas while the residents are trying to enjoy a peaceful meal.
The CNAs have every right to talk; in fact, it breaks up the monotony of the day. They have the most backbreaking job in the healthcare food chain, and this especially rings true in nursing homes. I'll admit that I find some of their conversations rather annoying and unstimulating, but a reasonable nurse wouldn't expect them to remain quiet throughout the course of an 8 hour shift.

You've made some thinly-veiled insinuations concerning the aides that you witnessed. You chose to compare their laughter to that of "hyenas" (read: animalistic). I could point out other things that lead me to believe that you're judging their lifestyles. Ideally, nurses should be nonjudgmental in all aspects of their work.

You must absolutely respect the CNAs, regardless of their race, educational level, or social class. They can make your day easy if they see that you respect them. On the other hand, they can make the nurse's life a living hell if they suspect that you don't respect them.

Also, what have you specifically viewed that would meet the standards of "elder abuse"?

Specializes in ER/SICU/Med-Surg/Ortho/Trauma/Flight.

Yes, and she does mean living hell. I was an CNA, and LPN before I became an RN. The cna's are us nurses eyes, ears, nose when were not available to be on the floor. And they really do try to help like say when were at the desk preparing are med carts to pass oh like 300 pills. And when were doing charting and Iv's, and tube feedings. What I can tell you is just try to find the good in every one, everyone always has a little bit of good in them and try to extend on that and see about changing stuff.

Enjoy your career youve chosen assisting new life into this world, comforting the ill, and injured, and making comfortable the very elderly for there way out of this world!

Congrats on choosing nursing!


Tweety, BSN, RN

32,755 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac. Has 31 years experience.

Yes, you can be too emotional for nursing.

One must have emotional strength and maturity to survive. However, what you're probably experiecing at this point is what a lot of students experience in clinicals and nursing school in general - the roller coaster ride. Nursing school and the first year are full of ups and downs and self-doubt, fears, etc. We eventually muddle through all of it.

As was stated above, be careful when going to clinicals not to judge the people there. Students do it often and it's not fair to judge the people who are there full time based on the time you are there. You're going to see good people and bad people in every clinical. Students have a tendancy to be harsh in their judgements, and also judge the entire profession by a couple of people they see. Try just to concentrate on what you are there for and be the best that you can be.


295 Posts

Specializes in LTC, office. Has 19 years experience.

At some point you do need to able to step back and let things go to make it in nursing. No matter your specialty you will see bad things happening to good people. I work in a office for a surgeon and I see lots of sadness. If I got emotionally involved I would be a crying wreck and no good to anyone; including myself. It doesn't mean I don't care, but you must maintain a professional distance.

As several have said, be careful about harshly judging others in clinical. As students we come in for a very short time and care for one or two patients. Of course we can be exceptional, we have time! But health care isn't like that day in and day out. It's a real shame, but it's reality.

pagandeva2000, LPN

7,984 Posts

Specializes in Community Health, Med-Surg, Home Health.

I have seen my fair share of inappropriate conversations before the residents as well as patient abuse, and I can agree that some of the talk can be curtailed or done more discretely. I have often wondered if the residents were too intimidated to report it, or speak out themselves about it. Now, that I am older as well as a nurse, I try to curtail that.

However, some students see things through rose colored glasses if they have not been exposed to nursing or hospital work because they are reading textbooks that are geared towards passing NCLEX, are under the protection of their clinical instructors and have basically not been out in the world of nursing just yet. I worked with nursing for years as an aide and when I was in nursing school, the instructors used to play the films, and I remembered the many self righteous students say what they would never do, and I used to chuckle to myself and say "I give them about 2 months...they'll see". This is not being cruel, or saying that I am abusive, but there is no way in the real world to do everything that book or policy will be working forever, either at the whim of incessent demands or being a slave to management.

You may be emotional because you are very new to this. Only time will tell. I can say that at this moment, to make it to be the nurse you wish to be (and in this case, you want to diminish this behavior you said you witnessed) your job is to not judge, be quiet and watch. At least you are seeing what you don't want to be.


8,343 Posts

Has 18 years experience.

I agree with Tweety, you can be too emotional.

You have to develop an at work personality and be able to leave the job in the parking lot.

I remember loving the little old lady I was assigned in clinical. But when I returned to the facility as an employee, I saw what she was really like. She played the staff off against each other in ways that appeared to be beyond belief.

What I'm trying to say is, it's a job, leave it in the parking lot and enjoy your life. You do the best you can while you're there. The NAs can and will make or break you. There is something to learn from everyone when you are a student.

If what you see is truly "elder abuse" you are obligated to report it (well, at least in my part of the world). But you have to know what elder abuse is: is a resident being physically, mentally, or verbally abused? Are they being left in soiled garments for great lengths of time, unattended in the bath/shower room?

You need to know when to step back and when to get involved.


2 Posts

I'm sorry to come off as judgmental but I can't seem to help that because I care so much about the residents on my floor. I know how hard a CNA works (we were doing all the work and my best friend is a cna and she's always complaining about aches and pains). The one time where I could actually breathe was at the end of the day. I'm not judging how they are as a person; I am judging how they act at their job site. I just find it completely unprofessional. One lady, that I was trying to help feed kept looking up and whispering to me, "Why do they talk so loud? Who are they saying got shot?" I didn't know how to respond, because they already don't like the students so I chose to ignore it and point out the lovely scenery out the window.

By "elder abuse" I was referring to incidents that I witnessed such as an LPN smearing potatoes all over a residents face and yelling at her to eat. Ok, I can understand smearing the potatoes on the residents lower lip to maybe stimulate her appetite, but there is no valid reason to smear it all over her face (no I am not exaggerating. How humiliating and degrading for that resident). Another student, who was there, pulled me aside and asked me, "Is that elder abuse? I can't believe she did that." We immediately told the charge nurse because the LPN was just too forceful and just so nasty in tone towards the resident. Well, the charge nurse just looked at me and said, "Ok," --pause-- and went back to her work.

Another incident: A woman's call light kept going off and she needed help getting out of bed. She wasn't one of the residents that the students tended to but I HAD to answer the call lights because, again, no one else was. I ran to a CNA to ask for help because she needed to use the mechanical lift. The CNA rolled her eyes at me, walked in the room and said in a very nasty tone, "No! You are not getting up right now! You're going to have to wait because I don't have time to get you out of bed!" I tried to talk to the CNA to ask her if she can just show me where she keeps the lift and the way their hospital utilizes that lift (their lift is different than the one we were taught with at school). The CNA said, "I don't have time for that," and left and walk right over to the dining room and gabbed with her co-workers (she was still sitting there when I walk by an hour and a half later). I was truly appalled, but brushed it off because I don't want to be rude to anyone who works there. I'm trying to be the glue to the team here and they don't seem to want the students there but we are really lighting their workload. Honestly, we work; they talk. They should totally take advantage of us being there and maybe keep their workload light but not that light.

One lady kept screaming for help for over 2 hours and every time I kept going to get into the room they would yell at me to not go in there. I just assumed this is a patient that just wants attention. When no one was around, I snuck in the room because I just NEEDED to know what was wrong. I just wanted this patient to feel better even if was just getting an ounce of attention. THE RESIDENTS ARM WAS STUCK BETWEEN THE BED AND THE SIDE RAIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I know I'm still learning, but how does one not go into a room when a resident is screaming for hours; not even a peek.

Maybe, I am being too emotional which only sparks my natural instincts to judge. I'm not trying to maliciously judge others. I just think in the instances that I have experienced that the nursing team acted unprofessional and negligent.

A classmate told me, "After so long in the nursing field, I think they just stopped caring." (referring to the nurses at that institution)

When I was first nursing I was heartbroken every day. Now it's down to once a week.

The first rotation is always LTC for some reason and that is the most soul-destroying environment I can imagine. Even people who want to work hard can't possibly do enough and the burned out aides and nurses you are witnessing are just trying to make it through.

But you have to learn to leave it there. And it comes, in time.


95 Posts

Specializes in pediatric and geriatric. Has 19 years experience.

Sorry, but I do not agree with most of the people who posted on this thread. You are an advocate for your residents and if you see elder abuse report it. Follow what you feel is the right thing to do. So many people just let things go because they have no backbone and do not want to rock the boat.


230 Posts

this is amazing what has nursing come to

all these bad comments for a caring nursing student who has a conscience and decides to share her experience and ask for advice. Follow your dreams dont let any one on this thread change who you are.

i have noticed that some people on this thread seem sooo unhappy and lack compassion for others

if i were these pts i would report the bad treatment i was receiving.

this reminds me when i get old never go to a nursing home.


230 Posts

if i were there i would report them for elder abuse

its disgusting

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