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:


Specializes in LTC Rehab Med/Surg.

I am Shy r Us. When I first started clinicals I was aghast:eek: I had to touch people I didn't know. That was a long time ago.

I have found I am two different people. When I put on my nurse hat, figuratively speaking, I am open, talkative, friendly, and in charge. When I leave the hospital, I revert back to my introverted self. A little less introverted over the years.

Isn't it odd, that someone who is self centered as shy people are, would choose a profession that demands so much on a personal level.

Before I get blasted for the self centered remark, I don't consider those bad qualities. Just a statement of fact.

this thread lifted my spirits. I know I want to do nursing and love the patients, before I go to clinicals and into each persons room I get so anxious and have such a hard time starting the conversation (and now i'm in psych, and that's all we're supposed to do)!

I showed it to my roommate (fellow nursing student) and she agrees.

Now to watch a silly movie with her so I can lift some of my PCA - Pre-Clinical Anxiety!

Thank you everyone for you comments!! It makes me feel alot better, and I am glad to know that I am not alone!:redpinkhe

Specializes in Gerontology, nursing education.

Shy students, you are not alone. I remember being so painfully shy when I was in nursing school that one time, my instructor asked me what kind of animals my dad had on his farm (I had mentioned that I had lived on a farm) and I froze answering her question. Now I cannot shut up! :D

Seriously, it took me a while to get over being shy and to learn how to speak with other people. When I was a student, I felt inhibited because I thought that every single interaction with a patient/resident/client had to fall under the guidelines of "therapeutic communication". I was afraid to make small talk, not only because I was so shy, but because I thought, as a nurse, I wasn't supposed to "waste" anyone's time with idle chitchat.

Well, sometimes that idle chitchat is enough to put someone's mind at ease when going through a painful procedure. Listening to what people say helps them realize that you are interested in them as human beings, not just as the surgical patient in Room 6. I realized that I needed to get out of my shell and take the focus off my own performance and put that attention into listening to others and sharing a moment. Seriously, I enjoy chatting with people and always strike up conversations with people I meet. It's part of the fun of the human experience.

A shy student absolutely can become an effective nurse! You might need a little boost of self-confidence---I surely did when I was younger---and that will help you to feel more comfortable and less self-conscious when you are talking to the recipients of your nursing care.


Specializes in MICU - CCRN, IR, Vascular Surgery.

I've always been shy, and could be plenty happy to not leave the apartment for days at a time. I'm naturally inclined to be a hermit and so is my husband. I can "act" like a social person while I'm in clinical, and at work (I'm a nurse tech on a med surg floor) and make small talk and usually get people to open up to me pretty well, but I'm totally drained from all of the social interaction.

My favorite is when one of my patients has pictures up or just had some family in the room, I can ask them about their family and then that'll usually get them going for quite some time. Or if they're watching tv before bed (I work nights) I'll come around for my vitals pass and ask them if there's anything good on tv or whatever. I love to talk about food or books so I'll ask them about the book they're reading, or if I've just picked up their tray, I'll ask what kind of food they like. Just little stuff like that, and it seems to work pretty well. I can usually find something to talk about with just about anyone.

You'll get more used to it after a short while :)

Hi everyone. Thanks for putting up this post. I am also a very shy person as well. I am full of anxiety before beginning my clinicals. I have been told time and time again throughout my life that I need to speak up, you are too quiet, etc. I have been feeling lately very overwhelmed, always feeling anxious and nervous. I also draw a blank when I get asked a question by the instructor, when being observed performing a skill, my hands shake! It is very embarrassing. I feel like an idiot, as most everyone seems to perform so well on the spot.

Reading this post made me realize that I am not alone and that I'm not totally crazy that I went into nursing although I am very shy. I think there should be a support group out there :)

I think a shy student can definitely be an effective nurse. Shy people listen more and observe more, this is good for assessments. Most people want someone to listen to them, really listen to them and shy people can do this very well. I too feel like 2 different people, once I walk into that patient's room I am all smiles and friendly, but when I leave for postconference and then for the day it's back to being shy. Don't doubt yourself, you can do it!

I am so happy to see a post like this.I have been considering nursing for quite awhile now but felt worried that I was too shy/quiet to be an effective nurse.I was always told you had to be like a social butterfly to be a good nurse,so I felt like I was excluded from that field.

I have been interested in the medical field for a very long time,and now I feel more confident about taking a step in the direction of studying to become a nurse.The field appeals to me because they are so many options,so many ways to further your skills and go places with it.The compensation is great and you help people at the same time.Thanks everybody!

Specializes in CNA at Nursing Home.

I am super shy too, but working as a CNA taught me REALLY FAST that you can be shy in your social life and be a talker in your work life. It might sound like a stupid or cliche statement, but remember that the patients are just as nervous if not more so than you. Nervousness sometimes comes out at as anger or vindictiveness, so just be calm and talk to the patients w/out showing your frustration.

Allso remember that 9/10ths of the language you convey is body language, so have an open body stance (aka no crossed arms or wide stance.)

Hope this helps!:)

Specializes in ER, progressive care.

I am very shy and quiet. When I first started nursing school I was thinking that I wouldn't be able to do this because of my nature, but then I became very comfortable in the patient care setting very quickly. Now it's like a second nature to me, but when someone is watching me say do teaching or something (like when I was in my preceptorship!) I get very nervous. I haven't had much experience with "formal" teaching yet (just more informal advising a patient not to bend >90 degrees or cross their legs with a hip replacement or how to empty a JP drain).

Maybe a different perspective here- but I think a shy or quiet nurse can be not only as good but BETTER than an extremely extroverted nurse. When I was in the hospital I had a nurse that talked, constantly, and mostly about herself. Some people may like that but it drove me nuts! I was sick and didnt feel good, I just wanted some peace and quiet! But she never shut up, lol. There are all different kinds of personalities in patients, so of course we need a variety of personalities in the nurses that care for them!

I've been very worried about this...and as I previous poster said, I am very self centered (due mostly not to interacting with people as much as others do, and being worried what they think about me) yet really want to help them. I know I have the "book smarts" to succeed in a nursing career, but I don't know if I'll have the interpersonal skills. I don't want to be just an automaton, taking care of people's bodies, but not their spirits. At the moment (my first year of nursing school will be Fall 2011) I'm hoping that my shot in the dark will pay off.

I'm okay with speaking with people at the job I have now (McDonalds, lol), but it was pretty hard in the beginning. I also find it hard to talk to my coworkers, because we have a very high turnover rate and it takes me MONTHS sometimes to be comfortable with people.

I just hope that I'm an okay nurse, because I really don't know what I'd rather do. I don't want to sit behind a computer all day (which seems to be what my personality is suited for).

+ Add a Comment