Is asking too many questions to other nurses a problem? (new nurse)

Nurses New Nurse

Updated:   Published

Hello all,

I am a new nurse who had two months of orientation at a hospital, and I have been off for about a month now. Someone mentioned to me the other day that I ask a lot of questions.

I am curious if I am asking too many questions to other nurses that makes me come off as incompetent? I ask simple questions that I think I know the answer to, but want more clarification or validation that I am doing it right. Other questions I just do not know the answer to. Sometimes with research I can find the answer, other times my mind is going a mile a minute I don't even think to look up the answer and I just ask their advice.

I have asked other nurses their opinions on varying blood pressure readings, holding blood pressure medications with no parameters, giving oral blood sugar medications, calling the Dr., procedural tasks such as straight catheterization or g-tube, patient positioning, helping with manual BP, where exactly to put topical medications, which port to use to infuse medications, ect. Sometimes I ask the same questions twice as well because I just completely forget.

I am not lazy, just worried that I will do something wrong if I don't ask even simple questions. I don't want to annoy the other nurses on the floor and I don't want to come off as dumb. Any advice on how to better use my critical thinking skills and possibly stop asking so many darn questions? Is this normal to ask this much for advice, or am I over doing it?

Also, I started with a few other brand new nurses and they seem to getting a better hang of things then I am. They are calm, cool and collected at all times and I'm over here having a pretty hard time adjusting still. It is a little discouraging to see them advance so fast. Thanks for your advice!

Editorial Team / Admin

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

6 Articles; 11,637 Posts

Specializes in OR, Nursing Professional Development.

Rather than asking questions when you think you know the answer, walk through your thoughts and request feedback on your thought process. It's a way to demonstrate that you aren't asking because you don't know but rather that you've already mentally gone through the process and what to verify your thought process.

Specializes in Cardiac Telemetry, ICU.

My unit loved it when new grads asked questions. It made us feel confident that if they had any doubt about what to do, they'd ask for help and not try to wing it. I agree with Rose Queen though, instead of saying "when would you hold lisinopril without parameters?" try saying "so my patient's blood pressure is 100/60 but they received lasix 30 minutes ago, would you give the lisinopril or wait?" That's exactly how I used to phrase it and no one gave me any issues. If they're still giving you slack, brush it off because you're doing the right thing from the sounds of it.


151 Posts

It’s good that you are asking questions rather than making mistakes. Write things down as you learn them. Do some research at home and write notes for yourself. In my experience some people adjust faster than others but that doesn’t mean you can’t do the job. I was slow to adjust and gain confidence in myself and now I’m a clinical instructor. You will also figure which nurses to ask. Some people enjoy helping others learn. Remember you know more than you think you do. You can do this!

Specializes in ER, Pre-Op, PACU.

There are definitely resources you can utilize. For medication, you have a few options. Pharmacists are usually great resources and most are wonderful at sharing information to nurses. Another resource is to utilize your documentation system. For example, EPIC has micromedex which has all kinds of information from side effects to common uses. Do you have a respiratory question? Start watching respiratory therapists and the way they do things from treatments to setting up BiPAP to changing vent settings. I know when I started in the ED as a new grad, I read anything I could find in terms of textbooks and also took as many new classes in that first year as I could (e.g. TNCC/ENPC/etc).

I think I am one that doesn't mind questions. I am a few years into nursing (was a paramedic before going to nursing school) and I still have a million questions. I work with nurses that have been nurses for probably over a decade or more and they still have plenty of questions. I don't think questions are a bad thing. It prevents mistakes, increases your knowledge, and my theory is a couple brains put together are better than one when in doubt! I also think a big part of this is how your team functions. I have been on teams that do not like questions and become frustrated. Other teams are very open to questions and work together very well.

Just my two cents.....

Katillac, RN

370 Posts

I think most good nurses have times when they say to a colleague, "Got a sec to walk this through with me? This just happened, so what I think I should do is this, and then this. Am I missing something?" But that's very different from asking the same question multiple times, or frequently looking for validation because you feel insecure in your practice, or asking for answers you could have easily found on your own. Even those questions aren't necessarily dumb or annoying - but after a while it could make colleagues concerned you aren't developing a confident, sound practice.

I think a lot of new nurses are challenged by finding the right balance between

  • asking enough questions to be a safe and effective practitioner and
  • developing and then growing in confidence in their own knowledge base.

Twenty years later, I still remember the gut-wrenching fear of doing something that would harm a patient because I was new. That fear would then make me lose confidence I could trust myself to do anything right. In those moments, I quite frankly was incompetent, because my knowledge and even common sense would abandon me. Here are some things I found helpful:

  • As has already been suggested, before asking questions, stop and mentally run through what you DO know about the situation. That can help stop that "mile a minute" feeling you describe.
  • If you need to choose between two responses, think through the consequences of both courses of action to help you decide.
  • To help build your confidence, mentally (on your commute, break, etc) review the assessment/intervention choices you're already making independently and appropriately.
  • Sometimes it helps imagining yourself teaching someone else how to work through what you're facing. That can help you find the pieces of the decision-making process you need either more information on, or mentally "hear" that your process is sound.
  • Realize that you will make errors. Nobody is perfect. Your list of questions tells me you have very good instincts about the relative significance of different aspects of nursing care.
  • Remember to breathe. It really helps to just do a quick mental "time out" like they do in the OR, but on your own - step back and look at the situation.

I wish you the best in gaining confidence and satisfaction with your practice.


270 Posts

Specializes in ICU/ER/Med-Surg/Case Management/Manageme.
On 3/2/2020 at 6:30 PM, LilyRN99 said:

It’s good that you are asking questions rather than making mistakes. Write things down as you learn them. Do some research at home and write notes for yourself. In my experience some people adjust faster than others but that doesn’t mean you can’t do the job. I was slow to adjust and gain confidence in myself and now I’m a clinical instructor. You will also figure which nurses to ask. Some people enjoy helping others learn. Remember you know more than you think you do. You can do this!

I love this response (as well as others) because many years ago, I felt the same...adjusting slower than some of my peers. We all have varying degrees of confidence, we learn differently, we adjust differently. I would much rather you ask questions for the safety of your patients and your own rather than NOT questioning things. Another thing - maybe the person that said that was just making an off-hand comment that may have had no negative connotations at all. You, due to a bit of insecurity as a new nurse, took it differently.

And for what it's worth, I've been around in nursing longer than many have been on earth and I still run things by other nurses occasionally...things I think I know the answer to but not 100% certain.

Specializes in Med/Surg.

I absolutely love your question. Why? Because I was where you were. I questioned everything. Not because I didn't know but because nursing can be tricky like that. Things that seem straight forward can change on you.

I learned that asking questions is a good thing. It shows you care and that your mind is always working. Don't worry. Even the best nurses, the ones who seem the most competent can be functioning on autopilot. And you might have a question they don't know the answer to. We don't know everything. No one does.

You'll learn who to ask. You'll gain tons of experience and you'll learn how to answer difficult questions. I have a hunch that you'll be a great preceptor one day and make the new grads feel at home. There's always someone who likes to make others feel foolish for asking a seemingly obvious question.

You will overcome the second guessing. Here's a tip. Do case studies in your extra time. The ones with rationales. Your critical thinking will grow. And if you can remember, if you have the time, write down the questions you had during your shift and walk through them again later.

Don't compare yourself to others. Things aren't always as they seem. You will do fine. The reason why they might say you ask too many questions is that nursing is busy and you might possibly be slowing them down.

Be patient with yourself. You will do great! Good luck and God bless! And CONGRATS on your new role.


270 Posts

Specializes in ICU/ER/Med-Surg/Case Management/Manageme.
10 hours ago, MemyselfandanRN said:

Don't compare yourself to others. Things aren't always as they seem. You will do fine. The reason why they might say you ask too many questions is that nursing is busy and you might possibly be slowing them down.

And they might say you ask too may questions because they don't know the answers. ? Moving on, thought about this after my first reply. When I first started nursing, several of us carried small binders in our pockets with information pertinent to us. For example, things needed to set-up for certain procedures, certain lab values...all sorts of things. I updated, adding and deleting, over the years. Carried it with me for years, too. Like my "security blanket". Not long back, I came across that little well-worn binder. It brought back warm memories. It was like this one on Amason:

Specializes in ICU,Tele,Interventional Radiology,PACU,Research.

It takes time to gain the confidence from being a novice to an expert in the field. Here are some suggestions.

1. You are not expected to be a seasoned nurse in 2months. Do you have a unit educator/manager on your floor? When I did my orientation it was for 3months and after that I was paired with an experienced nurse who was my mentor or go to person during the shift for 3 months. Is that something that is available for you? Do you have a charge nurse during your shift? Is she expected to help new nurses?

2. Try and start a self evaluation table for yourself. List all the procedures or task situations you perform on your shift or have dealt with so far. Rate them on how confident/competent /comfortable you are eg I am comfortable,need improvement,I have no clue.

3. Every hospital has protocols/policies on most nursing procedures and other situations you can face. You need to familiarize yourself with those. Read them and understand them. They should be your guide when you are not sure or have a question. Most of them are readily available and a quick search will give you the answer you need.

4. When you adminster medications you need to know why you are giving the medication,what is the expected response, known side effects,and most does this medication interact with the other medications on the MAR? If you are facing a question on whether to hold or adminster a medication.Check the physician orders for guidance,if no parameter is given,you have every right to ask for parameters. (my hospital requires every b/p med has parameters for when to hold)Think of the patient flowsheet and the MAR as a story of what has happened to the patient since admission. If you are not sure if you should hold the b/p med,you can always go back 24-48 hours and check what was the reading at that time and if the medication was given and the outcome.

6. Practice makes perfect. You need to take intiative to learn what you dont know.The more you do something the more proficient you become. I was not great at starting IVs. It became my mission to perfect the skill.At the beginning of the shift I would let everybody know I need to practice and they would call me if they needed one put in. My mentor was enthuastic and started calling other units to check if there were any IVs to be started.

7. I dont know which shift you work but if it is the day shift try to switch to nights. Even though my nights were busy,it helped me to improve my skills as I didn't have so many distractions like during the day and when there was down time I could ask some of the questions I had.

Specializes in geriatric/ surgical nsg.

Hi Waufah,

Was reading your advice and it was very helpful, I am a new nurse here in the US, I came form Asia and worked in the middle east (Saudi Arabia, Jeddah for 2 yrs) I was assigned in dif area when I was there, ER for 6mos, ortho for 3-4 months, then the nurse manager assigned me in OR for good 3 months and finally in the Internal medicine clinic where we normally do endoscopy and colonoscopy, I still bring my patients to ER and when they're busy I usually start IV insertion. then I decided to work in Abu dhabi, (United Arab Emirates) I didn't get a license there because I was planning to marry my BF then ( now my husband here in the US) so I worked there as a company nurse in the nursery/early learning center from 2mos old until 4rs old, nothing much to do with the ages oral meds and usually monitoring if the kids are sick etc. then when I got here and decided to take my NLCEX exam, failed the first time but was able to concentrate and finally passed last year September 2019, I am now working as a RN in the nursing home (rehab unit). I am not very confident with myself as I always think that I am prone to make a mistake being a new nurse in my new field of nursing (geriatric nursing), although I knew I am capable of doing many things with my background in the hospital but I feel like I still lack the confidence I needed to do my job.

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