Working as a shy/socially anxious nurse


Specializes in CNA, Nursing Student.

I am currently in nursing school to be an RN, but I have been working as a CNA for 4 years and recently switched over to a hospital setting. The issue I have is that I am very shy in new situations with new people. I hate bothering anyone. I hate waking patients up for vitals/cares even though I know it's necessary (I just can't stand the idea of them being upset with me). I know that I will have plenty of patients over the course of my career who dislike me for many reasons. Is this anxiety and nervousness to bother or upset patients something I'll get over?

I get the same feeling of fear and anxiety when the patient and/or their family can tell that I'm new to the situation and it's my first time seeing something done or using certain equipment. I have to stand outside of rooms and hype myself to go in if I know the patient is easily annoyed. I find myself apologizing all throughout the day for bothering them, taking vitals, waking them up accidentally, etc. I want to come in to work feeling confident in my abilities. I don't want to constantly care what people think of me or worry that they're judging me. Has anyone here overcome similar feelings? Will I make a bad nurse because I'm afraid to annoy a patient with a necessary procedure/my newness?

Lynker, LPN

Specializes in LTC, Rehab. Has 2 years experience.

I'm gonna follow this. I still get anxious about waking patients up or annoying them constantly as a nurse almost 1 year in.

scribblz, BSN, CNA, LPN

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, Geriatrics, home infusion. Has 14 years experience.

The short answer is yes ☺️ it gets easier. You have to assess people, give meds, take their vitals etc. The guilt you feel should be channeled into considering how you can do it better.

Little things like keeping the lighting dim, improving their comfort by getting something they need while you are in there are helpful. If you know they are confused/ fall risk time your assessment with toileting or incontinence care. Always cluster care when possible.

If you are anxious re: new equipment, procedures etc. make sure you take the time to get familiarized whether with a co-worker, on your own, Youtube, whatever you need to do.

Avoid accessive apologizing as it undermines you. If you promise something and fail to deliver a brief but sincere apology is appropriate. Overall though it's more effective to focus on their needs you can meet. IE "I hear you that you are having pain, and I will continue to relay your wishes to the MD, but they require that I start with Tylenol and a hot pack first. " They can accept that or become belligerent. As soon as they get rude just let them know that you feel that the communication is no longer benefiting anyone, and you'd be happy to come back when they're calmer.

Can't go wrong with treating people like you would like to be treated. But that's a 2 way street, and not everyone is a good driver.

Good luck!

peach2218, CNA

Specializes in CNA, Nursing Student.

5 hours ago, scribblz said:

Little things like keeping the lighting dim, improving their comfort by getting something they need while you are in there are helpful. If you know they are confused/ fall risk time your assessment with toileting or incontinence care. Always cluster care when possible.

Cluster care has definitely helped me as an aide. "OK, I have to go in and take vitals at 0800, I'll try and get a bath done and linens changed while I'm in there." Thanks for the advice.

NightNerd, MSN, RN

Specializes in CMSRN, hospice. Has 7 years experience.

The answer is both yes and no, in my experience - so helpful, I know! It still sucks when people get annoyed with you; it never feels good when a patient is upset about something you are or aren't doing. However, for me, it's gotten easier as I've gained experience and understand how important the interventions we're doing are. Everything we do is for the patient's benefit, even though it can feel like an inconvenience at times. We need their vitals to make sure they're stable; we need to do incontinence checks to protect their skin; we need to send them to CT/MRI/whatever because it's part of diagnosing and treating them; same with getting labs; and so on.

I agree with the poster who said to try and limit your apologies. You undercut the necessary care you're giving by apologizing unnecessarily, though briefly acknowledging the inconvenience of a situation if the patient is upset can help smooth things over. Otherwise, I thank them for their patience with [whatever I'm interrupting them for], do it and whatever else I can cluster in there, and ask if there's anything I can do for them. Most people understand that they're not in the hospital to have fun and can accept that there are things we need to do that can't wait for long. Try to be understanding if they express annoyance, but if someone is treating you badly because you're doing your job, that's on them, not you.


Specializes in Oncology, ID, Hepatology, Occy Health. Has 35 years experience.

I agree with all that's been said but I would add that I don't tolerate rudeness, not from patients, not from families, not from doctors.

If somebody expresses their displeasure at being bothered for care in the night or is upset because they think I'm "late" with the first visit I will explain things politely and listen to their grievances for as long as it takes. However, if anybody is rude I tell them very directly that it isn't acceptable to speak to nurses like that. In return I'm never rude to patients, families or doctors no matter how busy I am. As somebody above rightly said, two way street.