Can a shy student become an effective nurse?

Nursing Students General Students


I just have a question. I am currently in nursing school and this is only my 3rd week into it. I love the idea of helping people and find the medical field exremely interesting. The more I read about it the more nervous I get. I am a very shy person, and worry that I will not have very good communication skills. Can I be a nurse and be shy, and can anyone give me any advice about communicating plus getting over my shyness. Or do you think I may be in the wrong field?:uhoh3:


I have thought the same thing because I am very shy as well. It is hard for me to go into the patient's room first thing and the morning and wake them up compared to others because of my shyness. However, once I get in there and talk with them just a little bit by asking them about their night or something, that helps when I have to go back in later. At least I broke the ice. Doing vitals at the same time also helps that way you aren't just standing there with your arms at your side like I did my first 2 weeks in clinicals!

Faking confidence also helps. That's not to mean to fake knowing all the skills and being a know it all, but just having that face and air that goes along with feeling confident in what you do. Eventually it will come. I have to pump myself up in the morning before clinicals to feel good about myself and what I can do for the day. Thinking "I am smart. I can do this." gets me a little but further than thinking "My God, I hope someone doesn't throw me out the hospital for being a moron!" The patients also know that you're a beginner so they'll be a little more forgiving if your skills are a little less than mastered.

Just think when communicating with them in terms of professional, albeit therapeutic, communication. It's not like you have to confess you have to ask them out on a date or tell them some embarrassing detail about yourself. They may be just as nervous! It's a learning experience. There are shy teachers out there too. Now that would really make me nervous. :uhoh21:

I am a shy/quiet person, and have been a nurse for 3 years. We all have qualities that we can bring to the bedside to help people. You do too! Stick with it, and what helped me was working as a CNA while I went to school. I got a lot of exposure and interaction with patients that way. It just takes practice!

Nursing tends to have a lot of strong personalities in it. Don't let them steam roll you. You are just as worthy as they are! God bless!!!

I happen to be shy too. I just go and throw myself (not literally of course) to my patients. Sometimes I even forget about my shyness thanks to work pressure/responsibilities.

I am not less of a nurse because I'm shy. My communication skills and work aptitude allows me establish a connection. Sure, I'm not the type of nurse who gets invited on baptisms and the like but I believe that's fine. I still get to take care of the patient's health and that what's first and foremost important.

BEWARE though. You may know it or not but, shyness may have this unpleasant effect on our communication skills. I'm not talking about stuttering and stuff like that...

In my case, shyness lead to separation from society which lead to not knowing the norms. I ended up apparently deviant. I just found out my communication mannerisms are disagreeable to many who don't know me.

So I suggest that you review yourself. Read on things about effective communication. Listen to yourself. Maybe ask a friend to critic you.

I don't know about you but it deeply saddened me when a patient expressed feelings of hurt when he mistook my talk as disrespect to him.

I never meant to hurt you. :crying2:

I'm so relieved to know that I'm not alone..I get apprehensive around new people..always thinking first before speaking (I mean, running the sentence through my head for editing) before saying it! Afraid i might say something wrong, I end up speaking in one-sentence-reply most often..terrible!

Specializes in Med/Surg.

I'm a fairly shy person as well. However, I love nursing. I love what I do and that tends to show. What I do if I just don't know what to say is "Do you have any questions I can try to answer for you?"/"Is there anything in particular you would like to do today?"/"Can I get you anything right now?" Usually the patients are waiting for an opportunity to have someone show them they aren't too busy to talk to them. Once you get them talking it doesn't matter if you're shy because usually you can't get them to stop talking.

I'm shy as well and today was my first day of class. We were in skills lab and we were using the pulse oximeter on one another and I'm fine with talking to people I don't know but when I professor was watching I just froze up, stumbled on words, ect. It's something you just have to overcome, it's a little intimidating to have someone watch you.

The skills we are performing are already freaking me out. I'm in that "OMG I don't wanna kill someone" mentality right now because I'm so nervous but I know I can get through this.

Like a lot of the others, I am shy too.

Nursing is not like a party where you stand in the corner trying to get in on a conversation but are too shy to manage.

Nursing is better. Our role is well defined and that makes approaching people easier.

Some jobs require you to be outgoing, but in the majority of nursing there is no cold calls, no selling, no public speaking(in most cases), and no building a clientele.

Specializes in LTC, Psych, M/S.

When i was in nsg school, I had what you might call a 'personality conflict' with most of the instructors. you might define me as shy, but I have been told i have a type b personality and tend to be more laid back, easy going.....I don't get easily excited about things. Not to say I don't have my faults but most of the nsg instructors had more of a 'type A' personality that I feel i clashed with. Around some of them I just clammed up, so to speak. on evaluations, I was told that I am 'very quiet.' One told me I would be a good psych nurse. I didn't know if that was a complement or not, lol. I've been a RN going on 6 yrs. I accept my personality type - I don't know exactly how to change myself but I continue to struggle getting along with other nurses who have a 'type A' personality.

Specializes in Pediatrics.
Like a lot of the others, I am shy too.

Nursing is not like a party where you stand in the corner trying to get in on a conversation but are too shy to manage.

Nursing is better. Our role is well defined and that makes approaching people easier.

Some jobs require you to be outgoing, but in the majority of nursing there is no cold calls, no selling, no public speaking(in most cases), and no building a clientele.

You hit the nail right on the head here. I am so shy, and I still almost HATE parties where I know only one or two people, public speaking, any kind of anything with big groups of people. I was worried too before I became a nurse. But it's a lot easier most of the time. Nursing is so often one-on-one and that along with what RNperdiem mentions, makes it so much easier than social situations.

I have also found that shy people at times have a bit of an advantage in nursing, because we are quieter and sometimes better at being good listeners and hearing patients' concerns because, in general, we are so much more willing to let others talk than to have to talk ourselves. :)

I do think though, that it still can be harder for shy people than outgoing people, I say this not to discourage you but to give you something to watch for and work on before you get out on your own.

-For outgoing people, interacting with others is almost effortless, for shy people it can really take a toll on your energy being "on" all the time, so be sure to give yourself some alone time before and after your shift to recharge.

-I sometimes still get nervous when going into a patient's room for the first time, but just giving them a smile and a SINCERE "how are you" often goes a long way to get the ball rolling.

-Sometimes if I don't know what to say or how to have a conversation (with a patient or a coworker) I try to do something for them instead/at the same time, sometimes that makes it easier to talk.

Also... warning... nursing takes a lot of shyness out of ya in the first couple years. (People still think of me as shy/quiet at work, but at least now they know what my voice sounds like and a little about me.)

Anyway... that's a bunch of rambling but hopefully some of it helps. Long story short... YES, a shy student can definitely become an effective nurse!!! good luck.

Specializes in OB/GYN, Peds, School Nurse, DD.

I have a lot of anxiety in new situations and nursing school tried my very last nerve. I would have to lean up against the wall and calm myself before i entered each patients room. And sometimes I couldn't face them at all. It really played havoc with my clinicals, let me tell you. Thankfully, I had some very understanding instructors. They didn't let me get away with stuff--I had to learn to go in there and perform the care the patients needed--but they really did support me through it.

Now I've been a nurse for 34 years. I don't have nearly as much anxiety in my current job(elementary school nurse). Probably because I'm working with children all day long. I still get anxious when I have to address adults, especially those in authority. In my case, it took finding a good doctor and some medication to ease the daily anxiety. I'm doing well now, despite the shyness. Good luck to you. Don't let your anxiety keep you from being a great nurse.:nurse:

Absolutely, if you're only shy, you will learn that once you know you have to do something and care about your patient that will all go away, because your priorities will change. If you have major anxiety issues about dealing with people that could be another story.

However it is hard as a new nurse or a new nursing student to differentiate between "normal" anxiety and a serious health issues, often they seem the same and its just a transition period. I myself was very shy but learned to overcome that but had quite a few bad days, we all do, its like trial by fire sometimes.

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