How many is too many questions

Posted
by Kcv19 (New) New

So I have been a nurse for about 6 months and recently on my own in the NICU I find myself constantly asking other nurses questions and their opinions. On certain things I know it's better to ask question when you are unsure but does it come off as incompetence? I just worry people think I don't know what I'm doing when I ask things. Do any experienced nurses have input on this? Is it annoying when a new nurse asks for advice or anything like that? I'm just terrified of making a mistake or missing something.

NotReady4PrimeTime, RN

Specializes in NICU, PICU, PCVICU and peds oncology. Has 25 years experience. 16 Articles; 7,358 Posts

That fear is healthy! As a 20 veteran of peds critical care, I'm more concerned about the new (not just new grads but new-to-peds or -critical-care) nurses who DON'T ask lots of questions. I still ask lots of them myself. I usually say something like, "I'm taking a poll. This is what's going on with my patient and this is what I want to do. Is that what you'd do?" It's so much better to ask those questions, even if you think you sound foolish (which you probably don't - as long as you're not asking the same questions!), than to guess and be wrong. A few weeks ago I was helping one of our newer nurses prepare to admit a kiddo who was going to come with an external ventricular drain. We recently changed the drainage systems we use and I'd never gotten the 10 minute inservice on it so we looked up the user's manual and policy together. It was a great moment for both of us. So don't worry about looking incompetent. There are those who will make you feel like that until the day you retire, and there are many more who will respect you for continually learning.

thebigchis

Specializes in oncology. Has 15 years experience. 1 Post

In my opinion, the newer nurses who asked a lot of questions were the better nurses, as long as the questions asked weren't the same questions over and over and the questions they asked indicated that they were critically thinking through a situation. When newer nurses ask a lot of questions, at least I could determine their train of thought and redirect if needed and usually was able to determine their critical thinking skills by the types of questions asked.

Even experienced nurses ask questions of each other about different situations, because there are new experiences all the time. Others can sometimes give you information you may have not of thought of to help in certain situations.

I agree, it is the nurses that don't ask questions that concern me.

fangirl

55 Posts

I constantly ask questions. If you aren't learning something new everyday, you can't move forward and gain experience.

emmy27

Specializes in ER, Med-surg. 454 Posts

In general, I think it's much better to ask questions (and it's something I find encouraging in a new grad or orientee) than to guess (eek) or even worse, fail to even realize there's something you don't know.

If you feel like you're getting a negative reaction to questions from your coworkers, take a moment to think through each situation and be sure you really do need to ask it (the answer might occur to you if you think it through, or you might realize you know where to find the answer in your clinical resources or policies and procedures, or that you had the same issue in the past and solved it then, or that the question you're asking doesn't really get to the crux of the problem and you actually have a different one). Sometimes it can become habit to instantly ask someone what to do when you're uncertain (and when AREN'T you uncertain as a new grad?), and you can miss out on the realization that you're actually increasing in competence if you don't stop and give yourself a chance to come up with a plan. Also, make sure you're taking the time to do that- people tend to react much better to questions phrased as "I have situation X and I was planning to try solution Y. Is that what you would do, or am I missing something obvious?" I have conversations like this with other experienced nurses every day, because there are so many things you can encounter in nursing that even after years of practice, you can still be presented with a completely unique stumper of a situation. Whereas just asking "What should I do?" without any evidence of critical thinking can get tiresome and make people wonder about the asker's baseline competence.

Also consider how and when you're asking- if the coworker is in the middle of something or super stressed, maybe find someone else or wait till they're done with their task.

But if you aren't actually getting negative feedback from your coworkers and you're just experiencing free-floating worry about it looking bad to ask questions: don't worry. The right number of questions is whatever number you need to ask to do your job safely.

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience. 67 Articles; 14,000 Posts

In general, I think it's much better to ask questions (and it's something I find encouraging in a new grad or orientee) than to guess (eek) or even worse, fail to even realize there's something you don't know.

If you feel like you're getting a negative reaction to questions from your coworkers, take a moment to think through each situation and be sure you really do need to ask it (the answer might occur to you if you think it through, or you might realize you know where to find the answer in your clinical resources or policies and procedures, or that you had the same issue in the past and solved it then, or that the question you're asking doesn't really get to the crux of the problem and you actually have a different one). Sometimes it can become habit to instantly ask someone what to do when you're uncertain (and when AREN'T you uncertain as a new grad?), and you can miss out on the realization that you're actually increasing in competence if you don't stop and give yourself a chance to come up with a plan. Also, make sure you're taking the time to do that- people tend to react much better to questions phrased as "I have situation X and I was planning to try solution Y. Is that what you would do, or am I missing something obvious?" I have conversations like this with other experienced nurses every day, because there are so many things you can encounter in nursing that even after years of practice, you can still be presented with a completely unique stumper of a situation. Whereas just asking "What should I do?" without any evidence of critical thinking can get tiresome and make people wonder about the asker's baseline competence.

Also consider how and when you're asking- if the coworker is in the middle of something or super stressed, maybe find someone else or wait till they're done with their task.

But if you aren't actually getting negative feedback from your coworkers and you're just experiencing free-floating worry about it looking bad to ask questions: don't worry. The right number of questions is whatever number you need to ask to do your job safely.

Well said. It's not the number of questions, but the type of questions (show that you've at least tried to think it trough) and how and when you ask them.

Mavrick, BSN, RN

Specializes in 15 years in ICU, 22 years in PACU. Has 30 years experience. 1,578 Posts

You have already asked some really good questions that show you are aware of how important it is not to piss off your most important resources (other nurses) but constantly and repetitively going to your workmates will show incompetence and laziness.

I agree with Ruby Vee that emmy27 really caught the essence of it and I can't improve on her advice other than say "What she said."

Just think where you'll be in another 6 months. You will be an RN with that magical 1 year of NICU experience!

greenandsilver

25 Posts

I think it is all right to ask questions. Try and see if you can think of the answer yourself, from training or critical thinking first. Then if you still need to ask someone, ask in the most respectful, concise, and competent way possible. As you gain more experience and confidence in your nursing judgment you will ask fewer and fewer questions. Everyone started out like that.