Recharging as a New Grad Nurse: Introvert or Extrovert?

You may believe that an introvert is just a shy person who fears large gatherings and an extrovert is the opposite– outgoing and hates to be alone. This assumption would be wrong! Susan Cain, who authored “Quiet: The Power of Introverts,” showed that introverts can be warm, interested in others, and powerful in their own ways. If you don’t believe me, here’s a list of a few mildly successful introverts:

  1. Albert Einstein
  2. Bill Gates
  3. JK Rowling
  4. Michael Jordan
  5. Meryl Streep
  6. Barrack Obama
  7. Warren Buffet

So, what does it actually mean to be introverted or extroverted? Introverts recharge by spending time alone and lose energy from being around people for long periods of time or large crowds. Extroverts recharge by being around other people and they feed off the energy of a group. It is important for nurses to understand where we fall so we can better understand our body and mind. It will help you determine how you need to recharge in between shifts or on days off– an essential for preventing burnout.

In a room full of about 30 nurses, we took a survey that I’ll share with you in a second. After completing the survey, we were asked to stand on opposite corners of the room based on our results and, to my surprise, only eight nurses went to the extroverted side! You’d think that a nurse must have to be extroverted. We spend 12 hours a day talking to patients and their families, other nurses, and healthcare professionals. How would an introvert survive?

The more that I think about it, the more it made sense though. We do spend all our time around others and when I get to my car, I thoroughly enjoy the quiet drive home talking to my girlfriend or listening to music and then laying in bed without the sound of telemetry alarms, call bells, or my work phone constantly going off.

Now, it’s time to find out which one you are! Here’s the survey we took that was also a part of Susan Cain’s work, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts”– give it a try!

Answer each question true or false. Choose the answer that applies to you most often:

  • I prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities.
  • I often prefer to express myself in writing.
  • I enjoy solitude.
  • I seem to care about wealth, fame, and status less than my peers.
  • I dislike small talk but enjoy talking in-depth about topics that matter to me.
  • People tell me that I am a good listener.
  • I am not a big risk-taker.
  • I enjoy work that allows me to “dive in” with few interruptions.
  • I like to celebrate birthdays on a small scale, with only one or two close friends or family members.
  • People describe me as “soft-spoken” or “mellow.”

Introverts answer “true” to five or more of the above. I answered “true” to eight of the items, which confirmed what I already knew– I am definitely an introvert.

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About Ryan Barnes, BSN, RN, PCCN

Cardiac Surgery RN from Baltimore, DNP student, and Army nurse.

3 Responses

  1. I am an Introvert. My result was 9/10. Thanks for sharing this. I always thought have to overcome my need for my alone time. I also feel quite awkward making small talk with strangers and friends alike. However, I seem to be drawn to extroverts. Because some of my best friends are quite at home in large crowds, they can work a room at a gathering like nobody’s business, and never met a stranger.

    1. I know what you mean- when I was in nursing school I lived to just go home and relax without being surrounded by anyone and not much has changed now! I’m more comfortable with the small talk but I think that just took practice. Thanks for your comment!

  2. I am a major introvert! It was so nice when I figured out why I left some social gatherings and felt so exhausted. Peri-operative nursing is perfect for me – I never have more than three patients at a time.

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