To the nurses: Can you be a great nurse if you're very shy?

Nurses General Nursing


I wanted to ask any shy nurses out there. I am a nursing student and will be graduating at the end of this fall semester. I just started working as a nursing assistant in a hospital, but I am very shy. I have been shy all my life. I hope I can continue working in the hospital as a nurse, but I feel like my shyness will get in the way. Have you overcome shyness? Is there a certain shift that's better for me to work preferably the night shift 7pm to 7am?

Specializes in Pediatrics, Step-Down.

I'm a pretty shy person. Nursing is actually a good way to overcome your shyness since you will constantly be interacting with people. You'll probably be shy when you first start your job, but then you will start to get more comfortable and know the routine of things. You will start to know your co-workers. And you'll see so many patients each week that you won't feel shy around new ones anymore. Quite honestly, I'd rather be a good listener than a good talker...often patients just want someone to vent to. Focus on your strengths, not your shyness.

Specializes in ER, M/S, transplant, tele.

I have always been extremely shy almost to the point of social phobia! One would think nursing is the last job I'd want to do! However, I found that when I put on my scrubs for work...I became a different person. By donning the clothing, it's like I don my entire nursing persona. All the experience, education, skills, knowledge, and confidence come to the forefront of my brain. I get teased that I'm like Super Woman.

Anyway, I think this came about by intentionally telling myself that the patients see their nurses as experts/authority figures, the ones who are there to protect them, care for them, and meet whatever needs they have. The first room entrance of the shift is always the hardest for me so I just take a deep breath and go in as soon as possible to greet the patient and start assessments.

Nursing really IS a good way to overcome shyness and I totally agree with yuzzamatuzz:

Patients more often that not do not expect an expert conversationalist...they really want someone to listen to THEM, to focus on THEM, and to let THEM talk. The more time you spend on the job the more comfortable you will become with the environment, with your co-workers, and with the patients. I think working as a nursing assistant is a wonderful way to start breaking down the anxiety barriers and start building your confidence. Depending on the type of unit/floor on which you want to work, there could be a difference in the level of interaction with your patients. Use your time as a nursing assistant to figure out what time of day you feel most comfortable and most sociable and go from there. Good luck to you!

Specializes in ER, progressive care.

I am a shy person and I think I have some social anxiety at times. I was very shy when I first started clinicals but as I went through nursing school, my shyness disappeared. I was sort of shy when I started my new job but again that went away once I got to know my coworkers and how things worked on the unit. And my patients love the care that I give them. So yes, you can be a great nurse even if you are shy! ;)

I'm glad to see some positive responses to this post. I'm a new nurse and, like you, I am naturally very introverted and sometimes deal with social anxiety. Communication has been my biggest obstacle in my career without question. In fact, when I interviewed for my position as a nurse the managers of the unit knew me from my intern position and asked straight forward, "Are you going to be able to get past your shyness and advocate for your patient?" It was upsetting and I didn't think they would hire me.

Luckily, they hired me and I'm currently in my 3rd week. Us shy folks are often given a hard time because people who are not shy don't understand. It's NOT a personality flaw and we can be just as good nurses as anyone who can talk about the weather with a stranger for 30 minutes :cool: As long as you can, like my managers mentioned, advocate for your patient, function well in multi-disciplinary teams, and reassure/educate patients and families then you will be fine. It may take us longer than others to feel comfortable doing these things, but everyone has their own cross to bear.

Good luck in school and congrats on the new job and almost being done! I would suggest working days just to practice. Remember, the best way to get better is to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

Specializes in LTC, office.

I am naturally introverted, but 20 years of nursing has made me much more outgoing. You have to be willing to speak up and advocate for your patient and be able to effectively communicate with your patients, coworkers and physicians.

Specializes in FNP, ONP.

^^^^great post. Shy yes, poor communicator, no.

I used to be shy. now i am loud and obnoxious. I think working as a nurse helped with the shyness. As long as it doesn't inhibit you from doing your job, you do not have to be a social butterfly.

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