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I look 15 when I'm 22 and I'm about to start my job as a nurse!

Nurses   (862 Views 19 Comments)
by Zurse Zurse (New Member) New Member Nurse

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So I'm about to start my first post as a newly qualified nurse... I'm scared and not for the usual reasons. I'm 22 years old and even with makeup on I apparently look 15. On a couple of a occasions people have even claimed I "look about 12." I'm petite and skinny with a baby face even with makeup so this probably adds to the problem. I don't want patients and family members to think I'm incompetent. It was soul breaking as a student and often knocked my confidence; now I'm going to be THE qualified nurse and I don't know how I'm going to cope. People say it thinking it's a compliment when in actuality you're telling me I look like a little girl opposed to a women so no not a compliment 😅 (although I am aware not many people do this on purpose).

I suppose I'm just seeing if anyone else has had or is having this experience so I can feel a bit more excited rather than terrified for starting my career😭🤞

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4 hours ago, Zurse said:

People say it thinking it's a compliment when in actuality you're telling me I look like a little girl opposed to a women so no not a compliment 😅 (although I am aware not many people do this on purpose).

Try to think of it as people's appreciation of youth/youthfulness, or in some cases their own processing of their own aging! Yes, that's right - the older people get, the younger the next generation seems to be. Think of a response you feel good about and then roll with it, own it, whatever. Keep things lighthearted. I used to respond to similar comments by saying something like, "I've heard that a time or two before!" or "[Ha, ha] -- I've been told I'll appreciate that someday!" 

The main things people will ultimately care about will be your good nature, your professionalism and eventually the knowledge/expertise you develop.

It'll be okay.

Good luck!

Edited by JKL33

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5 hours ago, Zurse said:

So I'm about to start my first post as a newly qualified nurse... I'm scared and not for the usual reasons. I'm 22 years old and even with makeup on I apparently look 15. On a couple of a occasions people have even claimed I "look about 12." I'm petite and skinny with a baby face even with makeup so this probably adds to the problem. I don't want patients and family members to think I'm incompetent. It was soul breaking as a student and often knocked my confidence; now I'm going to be THE qualified nurse and I don't know how I'm going to cope. People say it thinking it's a compliment when in actuality you're telling me I look like a little girl opposed to a women so no not a compliment 😅 (although I am aware not many people do this on purpose).

I suppose I'm just seeing if anyone else has had or is having this experience so I can feel a bit more excited rather than terrified for starting my career😭🤞

I understand how you feel, as I also look really young. Sometimes patients/families will ask me how old I am, or make a comment or joke about me being "old enough to be a nurse", etc. I know it can make you feel really bad, even though oftentimes they do mean it as a compliment!

What has worked for me in these situations is just to tell them my age (if they directly ask) and just try to smile/calmly move onward. As I became more confident in my skills as a nurse, these comments started to bother me less because I believed in myself - that I was capable & qualified to provide good care. 

I know that might not help, but I just wanted to let you know you aren't alone out there 🙂

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nursetim is a NP and specializes in ER, HH, CTICU, corrections, cardiology, hospice.

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Toughen up and dazzle them with your professional brilliance.

i sometimes, well I always thought that they made nursing school harder than it needed to be to toughen us up.

Come back with a pithy, yet professional retort. Keep in mind two things; never be as funny as you can be (I still have a problem with this one.) and “If you think it’ll make you feel better or it’s funny, you’re best off not saying it.” (I’m getting better with this one.)

Tell then you’re 65, that’ll cut their hot water to a cold drip.

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CharleeFoxtrot has 7 years experience as a ADN, RN.

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Smile at those who question your age and say "thank you." and go about your business. 

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Dress professionally, act professionally, speak professionally and you won't have any issues beyond the usual curiosity. 

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SaltineQueen specializes in School Nurse, past Med Surge.

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Head up, shoulders back, walk and speak with confidence.  You'll appreciate your youthful looks in 30 years.

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NightNerd has 5 years experience as a BSN, RN.

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I can so sympathize with you. In my experience it hasn't been helpful to tell my age, as it can feel like you're getting drawn into argument about whether you're qualified to be a nurse. That said, it depends on the tone of the conversation. Most people are just chatting or trying to joke with you; there are others who are trying to intimidate or who may be genuinely wondering if you're able to take care of them. In those cases, I try to cut to the root of the concern: "I've been a nurse for x years, I'm certified in this area of nursing, my preceptor will attest that I'm competent to perform this procedure, blah blah blah." Whatever lets them know that you are capable of being a good nurse to them without getting caught up in age. For someone who is just trying to be playful, a lot of the responses above are great.

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FacultyRN has 12 years experience.

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"15, really? People usually give me credit for looking at least 17! Haha... But to put yout mind at ease, I'm in my 20s. Everyone tells me I'll appreciate looking so much younger as I age. (Change subject)"

And there's truth to that! It has become nicer to hear as I age. I had a patient this week who was shocked that I have children because she didn't think I was old enough. I had my first kiddo at 30. Then again, I would've guessed the patient was 55 by appearance, and she was almost 70.

Your youthful looks have nothing to do with your competence. However, you will need to work on your *confidence* if you find this situation "soul crushing" like you said in original post. You have to grow a thick skin in nursing. You're going to encounter patients, and probably other nurses and providers, who voice much much uglier opinions than saying you look young. Learn to let 98% of those comments roll off your shoulders without another thought. For the other 2%, learn to say "That was an inappropriate and hurtful thing to say," and, even then, you move right along with what you were doing.

Let your professionalism, clinical abilities, and ability to form a rapport with your patients and healthcare team speak for themselves. (And it's ok that these things will be wobbly your first year. You're new! Every day is a growth opportunity.)

Best of luck!

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5 Posts; 357 Profile Views

I get this all of the time. I tell them, “If I were actually that age I certainly wouldn’t be working here.” Then dazzle them with your nursing knowledge. 

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