Q&A: Do my employers think I’m too old?

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I’m nearing my 50th birthday, and I’m worried my employer may think I’m getting too old to keep up with my duties or stay on top of the latest procedures and technological advances. How can I make sure no one thinks it’s time to “put me out to pasture?”

— Roxanne, RN


Read the best responses from your peers.

Remember age is just a number

Getting older doesn’t mean you can’t still do your job. But if you sense other people may not feel the same way, there are some things you do about it.

Only one reader believes you should look for another job. The others suggest you:

  • Assess yourself.
  • Work on yourself.
  • Be yourself.

Assess yourself

Roxanne, looking at yourself objectively, identifying your strengths and weaknesses, can be difficult. But it can also be empowering.

Maria, RN, explains what you should look for:

“Has anyone made you feel this way? If so, perhaps it’s time to do a self-assessment. Are you physically able to perform your duties? Do you stay on top of the latest procedures/technological advances? If the answer is yes to both and you’re still worried, meet with your immediate supervisor and discuss your concerns. If the answer to either question is no, meet with your supervisor to determine if a new position would suit you better.”

Work on yourself

After your self-assessment, you may discover some things you need to work on. Several readers cite areas you might not have considered.

Denise R. Conti, RN, gives her thoughts on this:

“First, dye your hair and keep it up. Second, take extra CEUs related to your area of expertise. The more you have to offer, the more valuable you are.”

Alana Calderone, CNA, thinks a mind/body approach is best:

“Be positive and don’t forget to take care of your appearance — dye your hair, lose weight, do some exercise, etc. And confidently demonstrate to everybody that you have the skills, patience and compassion your patients deserve.”

An anonymous reader offers several alternatives.

“Attend in-service education as it’s available and update yourself with the latest information. Talk to your manager and say a prayer. (It doesn’t hurt.) Also, talk to the HR department about your concerns.”

Be yourself

With experience comes wisdom, so you have nothing to prove.

As Dr. Gebreab says:

“You are the best educator to the coming generation because you are experienced in your practice. Don’t worry about your gray hair. Feel free to do what you know and try to learn the new techniques and technology.”

An LVN is succinct in her opinion:

“Don’t worry about it. If you’re good at your job, your hair color and age don’t mean anything.”

Roxanne, you know you can provide the same high quality of care you always have, so don’t worry about other people’s misconceptions about you. A self-assessment may help bolster your confidence or identify a few things for you to work on. Taking care of yourself and continuing your education may make you feel better about yourself and your abilities. But, most of all, be yourself. You have a lot to offer your patients and your profession.

This feature is brought to you in partnership with Interim HealthCare.

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