Published Jul 30, 2009
I seem to have a lot of patients asking me how old I am lately. It often comes from other 20-something year old patients. I can see how this would be thought to be acceptable. I'm obviously too young for it to be an inappropriate question. However, I am concerned I'll loss respect as a professional if I reveal how young I am, as quite frankly, I am rather young (23). I already take some teasing from my coworkers on this front. I feel rude just saying "none of your business" particularly when I know all of their personal details (yes, I know, I'm the nurse, they're the patient).
So, what do you say? So far I've just been answering honestly.
I just tell them. I get that question alot from older patients who think I look like I'm 16. When I tell them I'm 27, they seem to take me more seriously. I do think its kind of rude to ask someone how old they are though.
I say that I am ageless.
I was a new grad at 22. I've always flat-out told them my age. I got teased by co-workers as a younger nurse too, and was the "baby". The patients figure out soon enough whether or not you know what you're doing, regardless of your age. I've always thought it something to be proud of to be so young and yet still a professional nurse, many young adults at that age still don't know what they want to do with their lives, or are still in their adolescence, much less have the confidence and maturity to be a nurse. So be proud, go ahead and tell 'em.
I've always told people I'm "25 + tax". In your case you can always say "21 + tax".
Dalzac, LPN, LVN, RN
Old enough to have a bunch of grandkids! I don't look my age and have always loved to hear l don't look old enough to have grandkids.
I have looked younger all my life. I was denied entrance to a bar when I was almost 30 they told me my ID was fake. I just said thanks and went somewhere else. I have even let my hair go gray so people would believe me.
It doesn't matter how old you tell them you are. If you LOOK young, you'll still lose credibility because people subconsciously attribute age to wisdom. I've seen new grad 40-50 something year olds get more respect than younger nurses with more experience just because people assume they've been a nurse longer.
I would respond, "Older than you may think." or "Old enough."
I'm young and this question gets to me with about a quarter of my patients. "You are so young, how old are you?" I usually just tell that I am "pretty young" and keep it moving. If they keep pressing the issue, I will again remind them that I feel it unprofessional to reveal my age to them. They usually stop after that. It is a hard thing when you are younger because you don't want to feel like you are losing credibility because of your age.
I usually say something like "older than you might think" and then address the underlying question about my experience by telling them how long I have been working in healthcare. You do not have to tell people your age, not even in a job interview--age discrimination.
Whispera, MSN, RN
It's no big deal to just tell them your age. They're just curious and it's not digging into your private details, is it?
netglow, ASN, RN
Pagan is really ageless.
I have had people surprised that I am 45. I always reply with something along the lines of, "Are you surprised because of my youthful appearance? or because I act like a child"
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