How My Instructor Affected My Life
I'm not exactly sure when my instructor started hating me, or if she disliked me from the beginning. But she broke me. Any answer I would give in pre or post conference would be wrong, or not good enough. But any other student who said what I said would be right.
I sit in my car outside of the hospital where I'm doing my second term clinicals at. Tears are just rolling down my cheeks. They won't stop. In LVN school, we have 13 week terms. This is only week 7. The tears increase with this sudden thought. I cannot do this anymore. I want to drive to campus and quit this very instant. Instead, I drive home through the tears, remembering the horrible 7 weeks I've had...
The last week of Term I, we all received our clinical assignments. I was so excited! I got the clinical instructor I was hoping for, at a site I was hoping for, life looked like it was going to be great in Term II. We even started at an acute care facility this term. I was tired of the nursing home. The first day comes. The group I'm with is different. All of them older than I am, except for two new girls who were restarts. I befriend them. There's all the wonderful paperwork, and video watching that comes with orientation. Then our instructor has us write down some things she wants us to know and use this term. She goes on to tell us how our day will work. I think I can handle things. She tells us that we'll rotate through Cath lab, ER, OR, GI lab and radiology. I leave feeling confident. That was the only day I felt confident.
I started off the best I could. Introduced myself to the patients as soon as I got on the floor. Vitals, AM care. I read the charts completely. I knew my patients inside and out. I even went above and beyond what was expected of me. I would write out every abnormal lab, every medication, and learn all I needed to about both. I checked on my patients every half hour or so. I helped out my fellow student nurses when I could. Stayed on top of my paperwork. I was working so hard.
I'm not exactly sure when my instructor started hating me, or if she disliked me from the beginning. But she broke me. Any answer I would give in pre or post conference would be wrong, or not good enough. But any other student who said what I said would be right. If I was passing meds that day, she would rush me through med confession and then accuse me of not knowing my medications. She always gave me the most complicated patients, which for a while I took in stride. I figured I was getting more experience. She would not allow other students to help me, but I was expected to help them. Checking on my patients every half hour wasn't good enough, she wanted me in a patient room at all times. I never rotated to any specialty. She would barge in on me when I was bathing or changing patients, and have a complete disrespect for my patients dignity. While I was doing AM care with one patient, she would go to my other patient rooms and find things wrong with them, then chew me out in front of all the staff after. The day I sat crying in my car in front of the hospital was one of the worst.
By this time I knew she hated me. I still wasn't sure why. But she did. The patient load she gave me that day was just like any other. One total care, one was a custody patient (I was the only student to receive those, go figure), and one who had stasis ulcers on both legs and ulcers on the toes. I was to do wound care with her watching me. I asked the student leader to be there as well, for moral support. I gathered my supplies and headed into the room. I let the patient know I would be changing his dressings and asked him if he needed any pain medication. The patient was a dear old man, sweet as could be. Everything was set. I went and got my instructor. I set up and began. She stood there with a horrible look upon her face, as she always did when she was with me. I went through each step, talking with the patient while continuing. I got to a point where I was slightly confused about how to put on the medicated strip. I told her as much, and asked her how I should apply it. She just stood there. Didn't even respond to my question. My patient was also expecting an answer, both of us looked at each other and I just tried to figure things out. The patient became more aware of my instructors attitude towards me and attempted to converse with her. She gave him very short answers, not showing any interest in what he was saying. I finished up about 10 minutes after I had began. I will never forget what she said. She told me it took me too long to do the dressing change, that I was unprepared and I shouldn't be allowed to do procedures, period! She stormed out of the room. I stood there, in shock. I began to shake, out of pure humiliation and anger. I felt like an utter failure. The student leader looked at me and told me I did everything by the book. The patient tried to console me, he told me that I did a better job than most of the staff nurses before me. He even asked me what was wrong with the instructor! He couldn't believe an instructor would treat a student, let alone a patient, like that. I worked hard to maintain composure in the room, and throughout the rest of the day.
When I arrive home that day, I thanked God for getting me there safely. I called my step-mom who is an RN and explained everything that had gone on in the past 7 weeks, topping the story off with what happened today. She talked me out of quitting, and told me some clinical instructors were just awful people.
The next 6 weeks weren't any better. I still was kept on the floor. The charge nurse came to know me well. She even bragged to my instructor about how much progress I had made. My instructor just muttered something under her breath and walked away. She would call the director of nursing to come to our site weekly, for the main purpose of making me seem incompetent. I was accused of a medication error, which wasn't an error at all. The review she gave me at the end of the term was absolutely awful. By the end of the 13 weeks, my confidence was completely shattered.
Term III started the week after. I was at a site which was about a hundred times more difficult than before. The patients were what we called train wrecks. Multi-system failures, diseases I'd only read about in textbooks, and more! How could I survive this if I couldn't survive the less complicated patients before? My confidence was gone and I had two instructors to impress this time around! Because of the way I was treated during my second term, I made sure I was always on top of everything. Meds, AM care, vitals, team work, documentation... while some students were struggling to finish up charting before post conference let out, I was done hours before we even started. I was doing everything I could to stay off the radar of my instructors. I just wanted to finish the term in peace.
By the time mid-term evaluations rolled around, I was expecting the worst. I had never received a good eval, why should I be getting one now? My main instructor called me in, and I sat down. She looked at me, and asked me flat out how my second term was. I was a little confused by the question, but I told her. After I was done, she looked at me and smiled. She told me that she could tell that I tried to avoid her when at all possible, and had been curious as to why. Now she knew. She pulled out my evaluation. She proceeded to tell me that I was the best student nurse she had ever seen. She was highly impressed with everything I had done so far, my extensive knowledge of medications and lab values. The other instructor was impressed as well. Apparently she had a few complaints about every other student, but not me. I was floored. I was good?
It was in that moment that I realized I was going to make it. My previous instructor, as horrible to me as she was, gave me motivation to be on top of everything, know everything about my patient and try to be the perfect student nurse. Even though nothing was good enough for her, she turned me into the best student nurse I could've possibly been. It was the worst 13 weeks in LVN school, but out of it came something positive, I knew how to be a good nurse. I think about that instructor from time to time. Because of her, I have the confidence to tackle just about anything a patient throws my way.Last edit by Joe V on May 1, '12
Jan 13, '09Rae, you need to say thanks to you and your mom that let you enough strong to stay up! Is not ANY explanation for her bad behavior, positive motivation works better than rude behavior, you will never forgot her style for sure. Is not her merit that you are a good nurse is YOURS, you deserve that, with her or with a soft one, you still became a good nurse. But she will be a taugh instructor and at one point she will loose students, make taugh nurses like her, make many others to cry... bad for her... good for you hon! A lot a love and enjoy your new nursing life!Jan 13, '09You are probably one fantastic nurse. I would let you take care of me or mine any day. It's a shame that you had to go thru that in your training. No real reason to treat anyone that way, and just awful to do this in front of a patient. You, on the other hand are quite amazing and a credit to all of us.Jan 13, '09Good on you for keeping at it. I don't believe in that type of leadership, I despise it. It's not her attitude who made you the wanderful nurse that you are, it's yourself and yourself alone. She didn't give you any motivation, you found it in yourself. Hats off to you!Jan 13, '09I agree with some of the others on here - your instructor doesn't deserve the credit - you do. And you had the proper outlook and attitude toward it. Which is, even when bad things happen, there is always some good that can be found in it. I don't really believe in that style of teaching either myself, and I don't believe that it should be allowed to exist. But the sad fact is that it does, and sometimes all we can do is make the best of it. Outside of yourself, the person to really thank is your mother, who recognized what was happening, and actually gave you some encouragement, which is what your instructor should have done.Jan 14, '09I had an expperience a lot like yours with.....of all things....my psych. rotation clinical instructor. OMG, lets just say our instructors mirrored each other. She made no secret of the fact that she couldnt stand me. Told the other students too. Little did she know, they were not quick to cross me and were simply humoring her as they listened to her whip up stories about me. See, I was a CNA at the very hospital we did clinicals at. Most of the people in my group were from non-medical backgrounds. So, as far as getting ADLs, AM care and such went, I helped everyone. Obviously, they were not going to jump on the bandwagon with her. This annoyed her to the point of rage. She gave me an evaluation filled with lies and twisted truths you couldnt believe.
In the end I got the best of her. Not only did her review not keep me from graduating, but I got very good scores on the psych. portion of the final that semester. Graduation came a semester later. We were to receive our pin then walk down the line of instructors to shake hands and be congradulated. When I got to her, I could see in her eyes the desire to give me a half hearted handshake and be done with me. There was venom in her eyes as I approached her. So, I did what every respectfull newly graduated nurse would do. I acted like I was none the wiser to her attitude towards me, gave her the biggest hug (picked her up off the floor and spun around and all) and acted like she was Gods gift to the school. She about puked from the experience from the look on her face, and she was trying to say something (something venomous I'm sure) but no words came out of ther mouth. She just stood there muttering, moving her lips with no sound coming forth.....total shock. I loved it.Jan 14, '09erik that is great! Good for you! To the OP...... I can tell by your writing that you are strong and smart. Aren't you glad you stuck it out! You are inspiration to the others in that position right now. That horrible instructor will have hers coming. One day she will be a patient and she may get a nurse exactly like her!!Jan 14, '09I think this particular instructor does not have proper training to be a instructor, when you asked her how to put the medication trip on, I think she herself did not know how to put that on. When instructors do not have enough background stuff about meds or procedures they avoid any situations where you would ask questions. The trick is if they are rude you wouldn't dare to ask questions.
Congratulations for your inner strength , you will make one great nurse, do not let anybody put you down.Jan 14, '09Nursing educators like this should not be permitted to teach! I experienced this as well, except that those first negative pronouncements over me were very hard to overcome. It seemed they all read each others evaluations. Some instructors seemed "hell bent" on destroying certain students, and often for no good reason.
I have been practicing nursing for thirty years now and my life has been full and rich because of nursing. I thank God that I was permitted to graduate in spite of the ill will of a few mean spirited and very vindictive instructors who tried their best to discourage me! There is nothing like nursing for opportunities and adventure!! I wish you the best in a long and exciting career!Last edit by judybsn on Jan 15, '09Jan 15, '09My dear future nurse!
Ah, how your article reminded me of an instructor I 'experienced'. Not only did she 'attack' me the first day of clinicals when i expressed fear of the unexpected but she continued throughout the experience. She even lied about 'supervising me' when she was not even in site.
There will be many dysfunctional situations in your career as a nurse. There will also be many situations that involve individuals with integrity and an interest in the 'whole picture'.
Rest assured my friend that you are not alone; however, you read the signals correctly. You continued to forge ahead, learned to expand your abilities and in spite of her attitude you rose like the phoenix from the fire!
No one can keep a good nurse down. I see this happen to people even after they are licensed and working. This is a good experience to identify what to ignore, how to expand your knowledge and increase your self worth and forge ahead! Continue to use their negative energy to fuel your desire to provide good patient care. There are always going to be days that do not meet your expectations. Know this! There will also be days when you walk away knowing you provided the best care anyone possibly could provide.
There are bullies everywhere including education. They are eventually identified as no one can get way with this negativity forever. Keep that in mind next time someone tries to intimate you like this! You will eventually identify their method of operation quickly and realize 'IT'S NOT YOU'..!Last edit by PeaceonearthRN on Feb 13, '09 : Reason: spellingJan 15, '09I also had an instuctor that didn't seem to like me. My patient was a 20 year female who had a thyroidectomy and I was also in my twenties. The patient and I got along very well because we had a lot in common. Anyways, this mean instuctor told me that I was very unprofessional and that I didn't have what it takes to be a nurse and that I should just give it up right now. I wanted to start cryiing but I thought I'm not going to let that ----- see me cry. So it took everything I had to keep from crying! But when I saw my other instructor who was so sweet and was a nun I just lost it and told her what she said to me. 2 of my charge nurses at work were both told that they should do some other job by their instructor and they happen to be very excellent nurses! Thank God that we all hung in there!Last edit by ElvishDNP on Jan 15, '09 : Reason: TOSJan 16, '09Stay Strong... Some of these instructors out here are on serious power-trips! I've experienced something similar and after being so mad, sad, and feeling down, I realized that only an inadquate educator would believe that shattering one's confidence was adequate education. It's on her..not you.. Just do your best and document these things. If she did it to you, she definitely did it to others...Just keep a journal, time and date in a mini notebook you can keep in your notebook pocket, like a diary... then if you should have to defend yourself in a "grading situation" you will not have to rely on anecdotal recollection of what occurred.
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