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I am extremely shy and I don't know if I can do this. I want to be a nurse and I just started nursing school. We're starting with the "easy" stuff, communication. Next week we have to go interview a client one on one for 2 hours. I am freaking out about this because it is very hard for me to keep a conversation going for even a few minutes. I don't want to quit, so if anyone has any advice please help me. :(

Jules A, MSN

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.


Do you have any sort of a script to follow? If not maybe make an outline of things you want to talk about ahead of time and memorize it in case you have dead time to fill. I guess the good news is that as a nurse it is your job to talk to people and most times they are very receptive and more than happy to talk about their ailments. :) Good luck!


Has 20 years experience.

What are you supposed to interview them about?

Is it like a general "getting to know you" type of interview?

Or is it a health history?

Write down your questions. Go prepared.

Yes, I have a list of questions, but my teacher said not to just read off of the list. Have a conversation.

I need help with my nonverbal communication as well. I have to interview a senior in a senior living facility. I have to ask questions about how they do things. Whether they do things independently or if they need help.

ayla2004, ASN, RN

Has 5 years experience.


we got taught about theraputic communication and when talking to a patient i tried to remeber this and failed.

so be nice polite, try to structure your questions in the flow of the conversation.

can you pick the patient? or is it assigned.

i disliked asking certain questions it seemed so prying etc however my attutide got to be, i'm only asking cause they need help and we may need to know this.

Believe it or not, seniors are very easy to talk to and are often incredibly interesting people. If you get stuck and feel that there is nothing else you can talk about there are a few topics that the older population will always chat about...

1)Family...ask about children, grandchildren or great grandchildren... Seniors LOVE to talk about family and it is a great way to gain a glimpse into their life and supports (especially the grandmas).

2) Occupations (especially the grandpas) Ask what they did before they retired, chances are the men will probably have served in the military at some point and that also opens up a whole avenue of conversation. After spending 30 years in a job you will always have something to say about it.

3)Hobbies...does grandma cook? Did grandpa have cars he fixed?

4)Feelings...ask how they feel both physically and psychologically. Are they tired, happy, sad, lonely etc? When they suggest an emotion, validate it ("It sounds to me like you are lonely, is that correct?") and then pursue it ("Why do you think that is? Did you have a lot of friends in the past? What did you do with them?")

I was really shy when I started nursing aswell. The trick is to get the client to do most of the talking and with the older population, that's not a hard thing to do. If you don't have specific goals from your instructor (ie you just have to have a 2 hour conversation) then have fun with it, try and find out interesting facts about your client.

your instructor actually said that you have to sit down and talk to someone for 2 hours? no offense, but i don't think seniors in a ltc setting can stay awake for that long (hehe). that seems like a REALLY long time - shy or not


I'm new to the site but thought I would share my thoughts. I stop to see my mom everyday now that she is in a nursing home (after 12 years of living with me and taking care of her, this was the result of things) anyway.....you should go in there and talk to the senior like this person was your grandparent or even your own parent. They CRAVE visitation. You could talk about anything and they will LOVE you for stopping by. There are so many residents in NH that don't even have any family left to visit. The most company they get is someone that walks by the door, if they are sitting in the doorway (if they can). Some of them are active too. Once you sit and talk or visit a NH. If you have ANY compassion, you'll want to volunteer to visit. You walk in there and KNOW that you will be appreciated and you won't have any trouble with your interview.

Sunset, I am a very shy person also. Have you taken a speech class? This will help you learn ways to speak verbally and non verbally in front of people. What also helps me is I try to relax, I take a deep breath before I start a conversation, write down some questions and practice asking them in front of a mirror, also remember people cant see the fear inside you...sometimes you have to fake the confidence to get through it. Good Luck. :up:

I'm starting my 2nd semester and I'm also very shy. It's hard for me to walk into a patient's room and introduce myself, start asking questions, then have to actually touch them and stuff to do my assessments. Even speaking during post conference gets me a little anxious.

It's SO silly, I know. But I totally understand how you feel. I'm getting used to it and just tell myself that is not a big deal. I put myself in the patient's position and they're usually in a much more vulnerable position than we are.

They say "fake it till you make it", so that's what I do. I act really confident, like I know what I'm doing,even though I'm actually really insecure and anxious, and I think eventually,we will get used to it and it'll become second nature, you know?

Good luck.

My instructor actually gave us a list of questions to ask, but said not to just ask questions from the list. Just have a conversation and if you happen to talk about something on the list write it down. I also have to write down 20 min. of conversation both verbal and nonverbal communication (what i said, what the patient said) and analyze it. I think it may be closer to 1-1/2 hours. :)

I've never taken a speech class.

Thanks everyone for your wonderful suggestions!

This is really a great exercise and one that is even better for the shy person. You can listen and learn from the non-verbals. Many people in LTC get few visitors and love to recall their lives to anyone new. You can learn so much from these treasures. They have wisdom and a great sense of humor. Go with it and enjoy.:up:


Has 2 years experience. Specializes in Well baby nursery.

I am extremely shy and I don't know if I can do this. I want to be a nurse and I just started nursing school. We're starting with the "easy" stuff, communication. Next week we have to go interview a client one on one for 2 hours. I am freaking out about this because it is very hard for me to keep a conversation going for even a few minutes. I don't want to quit, so if anyone has any advice please help me. :(

Hi sunset,

there are many nurses I know who started out shy and are no longer (let me tell ya). Things to remember about conversation and rapport is to remember the purpose of the interview. Listen for key words that pertain to what you're trying to find out from the interviewee. What you're seeking is clarification so phrases like, "Tell me more about that" or "Go on", allows you to guide the interview and allows the client to do most of the talking.

PM if you'd like and I might be able to help. My class is going over communication. I'm not really shy, but I'm quiet and I've learned how to turn the "volume" on in order to hold a conversation with anyone.

Another suggestion is practicing with family or friends.

Wow, I'm in the same boat as you.

I'm a very shy person, always have been, and today I actually wondered about how that would affect my nursing skills. I also have to interview a patient for my psychiatric class this semester. I may be freaking out about this now, but I think this field is what's going to finally get me out of my shell. :]

I'm sure once you get into the clinical setting and make it through that interview you'll feel much less shy. Best of luck to you!

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