Out of nursing program cause i am smoker!!!

  1. Help, I am at risk of being out of the nursing program because I am a smoker.

    I really could use some advise on how to deal with a very unfair instructor. I am a first year PN student and we just started clinicals in Nov. I have an instructor that is absloutely against smoking. Of 18 students in the class only about 6 are not smokers. We were informed that if we as much as smelled of smoke during clinicals we would be docked in our grade.

    One day another student and I got busted for smoking. Please no lectures on smoking and how bad it is. I really would like to quit. Anyway, our grade for the day was docked in every area it could. I would be fine with that. What I dont feel is fair is the way the instructor handled it after that.

    A few days after the incident the instructor pulled me into her office when no one was around. She flat out asked me if I had smoked, and I said I will not lie, I did. She asked why after knowing her clear views on smoking I would do that, was I just that addicted? I told her yes, it is an addiction. This teacher than asked me about the other student and if she had smoked also. I felt uncomfortable about her asking me about another student, but I admitted she did also. I told her that I was sorry and would make sure it didnt happen again during clinicals. In fact I had just done another clinical the day before and told her in no way did I smoke before or during that clinical. This lovely woman told me that I need to think about what my punishment should be for disobeying her rules. Now remember my grade got docked for smelling of smoke. She also threatened to tell my mother about the incident. My mom works at the college but in a totally unrelated department.

    A few days later she pulled me and the other student aside in a public hallway to lecture us and give us our punishment. She stated that we would write a 2 page paper with 2 references on how to quit smoking. Also we would write a 2 page paper on lying. Now I never did lie to her, she asked me if I smoked and I told her yes I did. If I wouldnt have confessed she wouldnt be able to punish us at all. Then to top it off she wants a 3 page paper on patient abandonment. She informed us, this is on the very last day of class before Christmas break, that we will have an incomplete in her class until she recieves these. I feel she is out of line and that she did this in a public hallway is just aweful. She wanted to make an example of us in front of the other students and I feel she handled this poorly.

    I am furious. I have read the policies and procedures for the program I am in and nowhere does it say anything about smoking. In fact I dont think she can even assign extra papers because of it. My grade was docked as we were warned would happen. How can she make up extra punishment when I was punished by my grade? How can she make up extra assignments when we were told our grade would be docked. I earned a very hard A in her class. I got a 98% on her final.

    Also this woman is a constant overeater and is constantly snacking on candy and other fattening treats. She flat out admits she cant live without candy. Yet she has the balls to judge anyone that smokes. She actually will pick out little things to dock grades on just because someone is a smoker when a nonsmoker can do clearly worse and recieve a better grade. I wrote in a letter to her that her behavior toward me and the other student was rude. In public to degrade us and ask us to write about effects of smoking and lying. How would she like it if she was asked to write about her eating habits and lack of exercise and how her fat butt is bad for her health? She can walk around with a jelly donut in her fat hand, but god forbid she smells smoke on a student.

    She called me at home tonight to inform me that if she does not have these papers in hand by Weds of this week she will not let me continue in the program. I am considering taking her actions to her superiors and filing a greivance with the college regarding my grade.

    Is it fair for a teacher to withhold your grade because of something like this? I have wrote her a letter pointing out how unfair it is and that I will not write extra papers for being a smoker. I admited to her I was wrong to smoke during a clinical, and said it will not happen again. My grade for that day was lowered because of it. I expect the grade I earned for the semester. I completed her course and than on the last day she throws 3 papers at me as a punishment!!!

    I wrote her a letter that I expect the grade I earned and will not be treated like a child and will go to the board if she follows through on her threat. I feel I should add I am a president and deans list student. I have a print out of the points in her class and have earned a 96% fair and square. The class is over and I have an incomplete at the time deans and presidents list are being made, so she has taken that from me.

    Please no lectures about smoking, if i could just quit I would. I want to know if her behavior is even justifiable? What are my legal options in this?
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  2. 173 Comments

  3. by   Soup Turtle
    Her eating candy and you smoking are two different things. I'm horribly allergic to cigarette smoke. My problem, BUT, if I were a patient in a hospital, I wouldn't want a nurse who was "smokey". I think it showed a lack of consideration for the intructor and the patients that you went and lit up during clinicals. How did the instructor find out about it?

    I do think her requirements are harsh, but I would probably suck it up and do as she asked if it were me. After all, you were told in advance that smoking was not allowed. Regardless of what you decide to do, I hope everything works out for you and you don't lose the reward for all the hard work that you have put into the program.
  4. by   Kymmi
    I would check the school's policy on smoking. Whatever the school's policy is should be the policy that is enforced. If this is this instructors wishes but not school policy then yes I would take the issue to the higher up's.
    I am a smoker and I know the bad effects of the habit also so you wont get any lectures from me on that subject...it is a choice I choose and that is my right. I would think that if you were on your break and not breaking any hospital rules as to where you can and can't smoke and it isnt against school policy you can just as well say your rights are not being considered.
    I realize that smokers are becoming the outcast in todays society and I am considerate when Im around my nonsmoking friends but that doesnt mean I dont smoke..I just dont do it in their house, car etc. I won't smoke in my car if I have someone in my car that isnt a smoker.
    I believe that each and everyone of us does something that isnt as good for our health as it could be whether it be overeating, lack of exercise, not going to the MD or following up with medications as prescribed, not wearing a seatbelt, alcohol/drug consumption and the list goes on and on however that is the choice we make and as long as we know the consequences than it is exactly that....an informed choice that we have made.
  5. by   feisty_lpn
    I would write the papers and turn them in. And I would only do this to continue in the program while the grievance was being investigated. If you don't turn in the papers and the grievance goes in your favor, you'll be behind in your classes by that time.

    There's no excuse for the instructor's unprofessionalism. The "meeting" in the hallway should've been conducted in her office.
  6. by   Jelli_Belli
    My program also has a no smoking requirement. And by no smoking they mean you cannot smoke during clinical or on your way to clinical. You also cannot smoke while wearing the clinical uniform and you cannot keep your uniform in your home or car if you smoke in either of them. If the instructor smells smoke on you, your uniform, or your hair it is considered a dress code violation and your are sent home for the rest of the day and lose that whole day worth of clinical hours. Since we can only miss 8 hours of clinical time per semester, if you get caught twice you are out for good. No excuses.

    Only 2 of the 20 people in my class are smokers and when my clinical instructor caught them smoking in their car on the way home from clinical she made them buy air tight garment bags and now they have to bring their uniform to our clinical site in the bag and change when they get there. Last semester one of those same girls smoked on her way to clinical, got the smell in her hair and got sent home for that. The very next week I saw her in the parking lot, smoking, and I told her she was going to get busted. She smiled and showed me a bottle of Febreeze and said she was going to spray it in her hair and on her clothes. As soon as we walked in to the break room, our instructor pulled her out in the hallway and told her to go home. She started crying and begging her not to send her home because it would be her second day and she could afford to get kicked out of the program. We have a really nice instructor and I guess she took pity on her because when I saw her later during the day she said the instructor made her wash her hair in the bathroom sink before she would let her stay. I guess that was the wake up call she needed because she told the whole class that she hasn't touched a cigarette since that day. She said she couldn't believe that she was so stupid and addicted to cigarettes she almost had her dream of being a nurse taken away for a few puffs of smoke.
    I guess that moral of the story is, don't smoke during clinicals. It smells bad and is dangerous to the health of your patients. Even if you think that you don't smell after smoking, you do. Take it from a non-smoker even if you just have a few puffs outside, I can still smell it on you.
    If the rule was don't smoke during clinical, and you got busted breaking that rule, then just suck it up and take your lumps. You screwed up and now you have to pay the consequences. I don't think that it is anything personal against you. We all pay the consequences of our own screw ups.
    Your instructor probably could have handled things in a more professional way but writing her a letter about her jelly doughnut habit is a little childish. Smoking is against the school rules and dangerous to other people, eating doughnuts isn't.
    Anyway I wish you luck and hope everything works out for you.
  7. by   youngEd
    it is unprofessional.

    i smoke too but im not going to go into a PN program ready to battle any instructor that points out my nasty habit.

    i understand she gave you some harsh punishment but you were aware of how she felt, and you snitched on another student.


    write the paper.
  8. by   lauralassie
    Look at what the schools policy is . The instructor can not inforce something that isn't policy. However, if the policy is that you can not smell like smoke , than that is the policy. Just the same as wearing perfume etc.. smoke on clothing can cause health risk to pt's. If eating candy puts my pt's at risk I'll stop eating candy at work.
  9. by   traumaRUs
    I wanted to say that from a patient standpoint, it can be harmful. My 6 week old grandson just got out of the hospital after a five day stay (with oxygen) for RSV. He had one CNA that smoked because I could smell it when he stood outside the room to put on the isolation gown! My daughter-in-law asked that he not come into the baby's room anymore because the smell was so strong and made the baby cough.

    Also - in IL - it is illegal to smoke on hospital grounds. When I worked at our local hospital, it was illegal to smoke in the parking lot in your car even!

    I do not think the instructor should be calling you at home, threatening to tell your mother (how bizarre!), or threatening you.

    However, the no smoking rule isn't that unusual.
  10. by   *RubySlippers*
    Where do you people live? I want to come there , Not only are our students allowed to smoke to and from Clinicals, they can go out on their breaks and smoke, in the smoking booths at the Hospitals, but, I guess that is how it is in Eastern KY where I live, you can be walking in WalMart super center and people will be lit up right in a aisle everytime I am in there shopping, someone comes over the intercome and tells the customers that this is a NON smoking store blah blah blah, :angryfire same thing. It is awful around here, even grocery stores people smoke. No respect, I personally don't care if someone smokes, but, I don't wan to inhale it or smell it on them, don't they realize when they get done that their hands and breath smells like it all day until they atleast wash the scent of their hands???? :uhoh21: I agree with OP, I don't want someone taking care of me that smells like smoke.

    As far as the teachers punishment???? does it state in your syllabus or rules that you cannot smoke during clinicals? If so you need to take the punishment. Otherwise, I would do as OP said, do the work and file a complaint. It needs to be stated on paper what you can and can't do as far as smoking or any other rule. :Snowman1:
  11. by   SCRN1
    If there isn't any policy against smoking at your school OR at the hospital where you were doing your clinical, I don't see how she can do that to you. I think it was unprofessional of her to threaten to tell your mother. If you're in college, you obviously aren't a minor unless you graduated high school at an earlier age. So why threaten to go tell mommy? Have you given her the letter you wrote? If it were me, I wouldn't give that to her or it could make you look just as bad. I would go ahead with the papers in the meanwhile and still go above her head on what she did. In the future, I would follow instructor's rules though. Good luck!
  12. by   marilynmom
    I'm a nursing student AND I work at a hospital. I know where I work if a nurse even smells of smoke or gets caught smoking in your own car, you will be canned and they are serious about it. We have had many patients complain about nurses reeking of smoke (I also smoked for 12 years so I understand how hard it is to stop, but it's also an excuse to say "if I could quit I would").

    Smoking and eating candy isn't even in the same ballpark. Your not offending your patients or seeming unprofessional if your eat candy, you can if you smell like smoke, you can also put certain patients at risk by smelling like smoke.

    I probably would go talk to my instructors (not your clinical instructor!) about the paper though, especially if it isn't against hospital or school policy.
  13. by   jimthorp
    First you need to review your school's smoking policy. It applies to any curriculum at the school including nursing. Mandating that you not smell of smoke at clinicals is in my opinion reasonable given that you work will ill people but if it's not spelled out in school policy it cannot be legally enforced. Smelling like an ashtray can easily be avoided. If the school allows smoking in designated smoking areas it applies to all students. Your instructors cannot make up their own rules unless there is language in the school policy allowing for this. It must be in writing!! You may also need to look at the clinical site's rules for students, if there are any.

    After this if you determine you're not in violation of school policy or site policy then take it to the head of the school's nursing program. If you don't get satisfaction your next step is to seek help from the school's umbudsman. If this is unsuccessful, your next step is to seek legal council.

    If there is no clinical site restrictions or seperate school policy governing nursing students , this is a perfect example of the abuse of power and authority that occurs in the workplace. We must be willing to stand up against these individuals and stand up for your rights!

    I disagree with those that say suck it up.

    For the record I am a non-smoker.
  14. by   jimthorp
    Quote from Jelli_Belli
    My program also has a no smoking requirement. And by no smoking they mean you cannot smoke during clinical or on your way to clinical. You also cannot smoke while wearing the clinical uniform and you cannot keep your uniform in your home or car if you smoke in either of them.
    It doesn't matter what they say it "means" unless it is spelled out in no uncertain terms.

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