Can nursing schools kick out students who are overweight? - page 2

hi, this happened in my institution. an overweight student wanted to study for RN. but at the end of her 1st year she got kicked out. the reason turned out to be that she's overweight and they... Read More

  1. by   CoffeeRTC
    Oye...I can see this thread going on and on.
    We've all worked with and alot of us are overweight nurses.
    I worked with a nurse who would have been classified as morbidly obese. She would get winded walking 10feet and forget about bending over if something dropped. Might not be an issue on some units, but in my ltc, she was the only nurse on 11-7 shift, needed to go up and down halls do meds, treatments etc. It was no wonder that she only worked a good hr or so of her shift, meds and treatments weren't done and there were a few close calls with patient safety and getting a nurse to them on time. No one wanted to do something or saysomething for fear that she would claim discrimintation.
    That said...I'm over wt and could be classified as obese, but don't let it get in my way. I could and do keep up with the best of them.
  2. by   FireStarterRN
    Quote from caliotter3
    In my class, we had an individual who was huge. Definitely morbidly obese. She managed to get pregnant with number 7 toward the end of the program. I don't remember ever hearing a derogatory remark about her. As a matter of fact, she was one of those who fell into the "fair haired" category of students. She had an advanced degree from an Ivy League school, her family was well to do, and I believe her father was a doctor, but I'm not sure. She definitely connected well with the faculty. Nonetheless, she looked horrid waddling around, before and during pregnancy.
    May I ask what that term "fair haired" category of students means?
  3. by   FireStarterRN
    It seems as if half or more nurses I work with are 20kg or more overweight. That doesn't seem to be a phenominal amount. I went to school with a truly morbidly obese girl, she was very mobile and capable, some quite obese people are amazingly light on their feet. She did get picked on by one instructor, I suspect because of her weight.
  4. by   santhony44
    Quote from michelle126
    We've all worked with and alot of us are overweight nurses.

    That said...I'm over wt and could be classified as obese, but don't let it get in my way. I could and do keep up with the best of them.
    I'm right there with you. I might not do so hot running the 100-yard dash, but I've always been able to do my job.

    I know a few nurses who are morbidly obese. While they might not be able to function well on a busy med-surg floor, they are in roles that they do very well (advanced practice, clinic nursing, case management).

    As for students, I think the only requirement should be that they can perform the skills and take care of patients appropriately.
  5. by   DaFreak71
    Several of the instructors at my nursing school are overweight, some very much so. So I doubt this would ever become an issue at my school. We have several "very" overweight students in the program and I've never heard of them being singled out due to their weight. In fact, my husband is significantly overweight, went through the same program I am in, and has zero complications on the job (ICU).

    What I wonder is, if the schools who are prone to kick students out due to their weight, why would they allow them to enter the program in the first place? Sure some people gain weight during school--hard to keep a healthy diet/excerise when your studying 24/7, but I doubt if anyone goes from being kind of overweight to morbidly obese in the course of a program. I'm sure there are exceptions to the rule, but if that's the case, the school should have a policy (albeit a secret policy) to not accept students who are overweight at all if they are going to later go on record as kicking a student out of the program based on their weight.

    In my humble opinion, the only reason a student should be kicked out of a program is if they fail or demonstrate consistent incompetence in a clinical environment.

    On a side note, there are other ways to kick students out without specifically citing a reason (especially one that could get them sued). For example, in my program you have to pass clinical with a 75 or better. Clinical grades are based on care plans. Each instructor has their own idea of what a good care plan is. If (and some really do) the instructor has it out for a student, it's very easy to fail them in clinical, thus failing them for the semester. The clinical grades are too subjective. But I digress.
  6. by   suzy253
    Quote from jlsRN
    May I ask what that term "fair haired" category of students means?
    I agree....that and :
    "She had an advanced degree from an Ivy League school, her family was well to do, and I believe her father was a doctor, but I'm not sure. She definitely connected well with the faculty. Nonetheless, she looked horrid waddling around, before and during pregnancy"
  7. by   linzz
    I really do think that it is unfair to pick on someone due to their weight however I do think that many people who are very overweight get picked on in all kinds of situations, not just in nursing school. I even saw an advertisement for nurses (Canada) that stated that only physically fit people need apply. Scary!
  8. by   bigsyis
    We had quite a large student in our LPN class, and she graduated with us. As far as I know, weight was never an issue. I have worked with some enormous nurses and students, so if it is an issue, it must be rare.
  9. by   P_RN
    Goodness. There has to be more to this tale than just 20kg over. *I* am that and a pretty good nurse too if I may brag on myself. at my height I should weigh (according to the Met scales) 100# for the first 5 feet and 5 # for each inch over. So.....110#. Well I did weigh that back in 67 maybe. More to the story I say.
  10. by   abooker
    An obese nursing student discrimination case reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 1985. Sharon Russell was told by her nursing school to lose 2 pounds per week or be dismissed from the program. She couldn't do it, and had to finish school elsewhere. She sued, and won.

    "... what should be particularly troublesome for nurse educators, is that the nursing profession prides itself on providing caring and compassionate treatment for all patients, yet in this case it failed to extend this same sensitivity to a future colleague."


    Weiler, K, Helms, LB (1993) Responsibilities of nursing education: the lessons of Russell v Salve Regina J Prof Nurs 9,131-138[Medline]
    Last edit by abooker on Oct 2, '07 : Reason: can't spell ...
  11. by   caroladybelle
    Quote from linzz
    I really do think that it is unfair to pick on someone due to their weight however I do think that many people who are very overweight get picked on in all kinds of situations, not just in nursing school. I even saw an advertisement for nurses (Canada) that stated that only physically fit people need apply. Scary!
    First let it be said that I am overweight, not morbidly so, but still overweight.

    But let me be the devil's advocate. There is nothing wrong with requesting that an applicant for a job be "physically fit" if the job requires that to function appropriately in the role...and there are nursing roles which have weight lifting requirements. Though perhaps a phrase "able to lift X pounds or walk/be on feet so many hours" might be less subjective.

    Hiring a CNA/orderly to work in a Bariatric/Neuro/Ortho rehab unit, where patients are often very weak postop, staff that cannot lift a minimal amount....is going to be a safety issue to the staff and the patients. Even though there are many devices to assist, there will usually be some regulation as far as being capable of lifting "X" pounds.

    And "physically fit" does not necessarily discriminate specifically against overweight nurses. As a thin 98 pound, 30ish nurse, I was significantly "less fit" than as the >150lb, 43 year old that I am now. I have coworkers that are not overweight and yet terribly unfit....that do not take care of themselves, and become more of a burden at work than an asset. There are nursing roles where that would not be an issue that they could more easily fill. But often, working on the floor, one worries of harm coming to them or the patients.

    That said, an employer cannot presume that someone is not capable, by looking at them...that would be discrimination. But they can require them to pass certain physical tests, to make sure that they can safely do what is required of them in the role that they seek.

    Putting someone in a job when they cannot perform many of the tasks safely, is unethical and dangerous to them and those that they care for. It also "not compassionate" to put someone into a job, where they may injure themselves or others, if indeed this is an important requirement of the job role.

    That said, on this side of "the Pond", if someone tried to exclude you from nursing school or a job based on weight alone, it would be lawsuit time. If they required one pass a physical or a lifting test for employment, that would be a different matter. Much like requiring a typing test for a secretary or a PPD for a HCWer, the requirement would based on needs for the job role needs, and not random discrimination based on weight.
    Last edit by caroladybelle on Oct 2, '07
  12. by   alkaleidi
    Good lord. 20kg overweight translates into an extra what... 44lbs? That's ridiculous. There were many students in my class probably more like 100lbs or more overweight, and they dressed professionally, appropriately, and were perfect in clinical. Never had problems lifting or transferring patients or doing ANY of their duties.

    Maybe "overweight" nurses aren't the epitome of health, but then you'd have to say that nurses who smoke, have tattoos, drink alcohol, and eat greasy fried food aren't either. And I fall into all those categories, and am still able to care fantastically for my patients... and offer appropriate education.

    On the contrary, why not pick on other groups of nursing students? We had a large group of nursing students ages 55-60ish who often complained about giving bed baths, lifting and transferring, and their medical conditions that slowed them down a little during clinical. I never said anything, but this whole "overweight nursing student" post makes me wonder why that girl would be discriminated against but not others?

    Kudos to her for going public despite how embarrassing that must have been for her. That would not have flown in my nursing program!
  13. by   morte
    Quote from jlsRN
    May I ask what that term "fair haired" category of students means?
    a colloquialism meaning having favored status...ie teacher's pet...

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