What would you look for in a nursing instructor?

  1. So I'll be starting my master's this fall, Nursing Educator. This is strange because I really hated nursing school, although I didn't really hate the instructors, just the way the whole thing was done. The stress was very deliberate, nursing care plans are ridiculous compared to real practice, and some nursing diagnosis are very convoluted.

    Who were your best instructors and why? What was different about the best over the worst? Who inspired you and how?
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  2. 26 Comments

  3. by   Jen2
    Comming from a current nursing student I can tell you that I think even if you only work one weekend a month on a floor, that would be a great asset. My peds instructor was talking about propulcid the other day and it's been off the market for like 4 years. Stay current. Lectures should be targeted to important info and let the rest be read. We had a two hour lecture on car seats the other day. Why? Please remember what a stressful time this is for students and understand that. Also, give constructive criticism instead of saying things like "look around because half of you won't be here in two years". One of our instructors told us this at orientation. She was right, but not a good way to start.
  4. by   jeepgirl
    Some of the instructors at our school are very "catty". Such as: if the student asks questions, they pretty much get ridiculed for asking the instructor. If the student is asked a question and the student gives the correct answer, many times the instructors will say "Are you sure about that?". If you say yes, they will still tell you to look it up (even when you're correct). They won't come out and just say that yes, you're right. That is probably my biggest gripe.
    I have never experienced it, but some students in my class have complained of feeling like the instructors are trying to "set them up to fail." A lot of times I have heard of personality confilts effecting clinical evaluations... and I know thats true because that has happened to me on a clinical rotation of mine.

    These instructors, instead of giving the students both positive and negative feedback, never, ever give positive feedback. For instance: a friend of mine commented on how she had a positive clinical day: she felt like she had given excellent care. She had 4 patients that day. The instructor looked at her (and me, as I was up at the nurses station also waiting to leave the floor) and said "How will you feel when you have 8 patients? Can you handle that?" She was being very hateful. Couldn't she have just said "Yes, you did a good job today with your four patients."

    When stuff like this is brought to their attention, the instructors usually say something to the effect of the student needing to "grow a tough skin" or "this is the real world".

    If someone is correct, tell them so. If someone asks a question, try to answer it to the best of your ability and teach them the rational behind it. They will remember it. If someone is doing a good job, tell them so.

    I should also add that I have learned a lot of stuff from these instructors, no matter how much they irritated me at the time... and I remember a lot of the stuff they point out to me. And I think that is just their way of trying to get through to you. And for some people that works. So I guess it doesn't make too much of a difference. You're still an RN when you get out!
    Last edit by jeepgirl on Feb 25, '04
  5. by   lsyorke
    I went back to school for my RN after being an LPN for 15 years. Classroom instruction was excellent. What sticks out in my mind was one clinical instructor who let me pick my own patients(I wanted a more clinically challenging patient!) and my cardiac rotation the instructor let me stay in CCU/ICU assigned with a staff nurse instead of going to telemetry(most pts. were r/o MI that had been ruled out) Her comment was " I think you've taken care of enough med/surg patients in 15 years!!!". I ended up learning alot more instead of passing the time with one patient who had nothing going on.
  6. by   orrnlori
    I think tailoring the clinicals to the student is very necessary. I, too, think that putting an LPN to work with med/surg patients is probably not the best course of instruction for that student either. I also think that giving students a wide range of options to view is necessary. Since I work at a level 1 trauma center and many clinicals are done here from the 5 nursing schools in the area, there are many many things for students to see, even if they only get to see them for a few hours, ED, PACU, Edoscopy, OR, etc, make up a huge part of nursing practice, not only med/surg, mother/baby, and nursing homes.

    I actually think that clinical times should be expanded. Theory is nice, practice is much better. I also think that natural intuition is many times squashed while students are forced to spend hours in clinicals working on their care plans.

    I'm shocked by some of the stories I read here about how awful some instructors are to their students. This is very disconcerting to me. It seems to be institutional thinking on the part of the faculty. Learning through intimidation has never been a theory of education at any level I'm aware of other than nursing. I was fortunate that I didn't have any teachers like that but the under current was there, stay on your toes or you'll be gone.

    I also saw what I considered to be a different standard for the male nursing students. Something that I couldn't put my finger on, sometimes they were treated worse, sometimes much better, but never really the same as the female students. This is an area of interest for me in research. I know many fine male nurses.

    Anything else?
  7. by   Averykat
    I'm a student now and one thing I really appreciate about my instructors is that they recognize that students have different learning styles. Whenever possible they have us read something, then they lecture about it, show visual examples of what they're lecturing on, and if applicable let us physically do what we just learned. This really reinforces the concept, and if I didn't quite understand something just by reading it, I have other ways to learn about it.

    -Kate
  8. by   JacelRN
    Hi orrnlori,

    My favorite nursing instructor was the professor who made me work the hardest. We even got into a bit of a squabble once because she upset me so much giving her pre-report for my upcoming shift. She ruffled my feathers, made me look up every single lab, procedure, med, etc. But let me tell you, when it came time that I needed help, she offered her own time and experience. Even when I failed my nursing boards she stepped up to invite me to her home to study! What a woman.

    She was an excellent instructor clinically because she knew her stuff. She worked every month so many shifts so she kept up with things, and in the classroom, she was the lesser of the two evils when it came to teaching all the details. We had two professors for one class and the other professor had his docturate and spoke lingo none of us could understand, and she kept it real for us and said "this is what you'll see when you're a nurse."

    She was truly awesome and I aspire to be like her.

    I wish you luck in your schooling, I hope to return one day as well.

    JacelRN
  9. by   ManEnough
    What an awesome thread! Here's my take, based on the worst and best instructors I've had.

    A BAD instructor:

    Belittles students and tears down their self-esteem.
    Chooses favorites and continually picks on others for no apparent reason.
    Spends 20 minutes lecturing on a topic and follows with "but don't worry about that.. it's not important."
    Talks bad about other instructors and their teaching styles.
    Goes too fast in lecture and is more concerned with time than comprehension.
    Makes careplans more important than actual patient care.
    Comes to class/clinical clearly upset about something at home and takes it out on the students.
    Never provides positive feedback.

    A GOOD nursing instructor:

    Understands that students are students and can't possibly understand everything there is to know about nursing.
    Continually aims to boost the self-esteem of students with positive feedback and careful criticism.
    Puts patient care before careplans.
    Makes expectations clear and has a fair way to measure those expectations.
    Tests on material mentioned in lecture.
    Stays up-to-date on current nursing practice and doesn't mention things that have been missing from hospitals for 20 years.
    Smiles (at least once a day).
    Serves as a role model where students will think "that's what I wanna be like when I'm a nurse."
    Understands that few things in life compare to the stresses of nursing school and tells students that they understand what they're going through.
    Considers all feedback as a method to create better nurses, not punish or belittle anyone.

    I could go on for hours! Guess you're gonna have to read the book I'm writing on the subject. :chuckle
  10. by   barb4575
    I enjoyed reading your post about good and bad instructors. For me, I find that much of it is accurate. The parts I don't agree with, I won't change.

    Thanks,

    Barbara

    Quote from ManEnough
    What an awesome thread! Here's my take, based on the worst and best instructors I've had.

    A BAD instructor:

    Belittles students and tears down their self-esteem.
    Chooses favorites and continually picks on others for no apparent reason.
    Spends 20 minutes lecturing on a topic and follows with "but don't worry about that.. it's not important."
    Talks bad about other instructors and their teaching styles.
    Goes too fast in lecture and is more concerned with time than comprehension.
    Makes careplans more important than actual patient care.
    Comes to class/clinical clearly upset about something at home and takes it out on the students.
    Never provides positive feedback.

    A GOOD nursing instructor:

    Understands that students are students and can't possibly understand everything there is to know about nursing.
    Continually aims to boost the self-esteem of students with positive feedback and careful criticism.
    Puts patient care before careplans.
    Makes expectations clear and has a fair way to measure those expectations.
    Tests on material mentioned in lecture.
    Stays up-to-date on current nursing practice and doesn't mention things that have been missing from hospitals for 20 years.
    Smiles (at least once a day).
    Serves as a role model where students will think "that's what I wanna be like when I'm a nurse."
    Understands that few things in life compare to the stresses of nursing school and tells students that they understand what they're going through.
    Considers all feedback as a method to create better nurses, not punish or belittle anyone.

    I could go on for hours! Guess you're gonna have to read the book I'm writing on the subject. :chuckle
  11. by   orrnlori
    ManEnough - I've read the posts here from some of the male students. Do you think that you have been treated differently in your (I'll assume) mostly female class? I think your post sums up many of the statements I've been reading on the student's board here in general . There's a fine line also between making someone work for their understanding and the feeling they are being picked on. What do you think about that, can you be challenged without making the student feel it's personal? Does it all depend on how the challenge is put forth? Sounds to me that some instructors definately have personal issues (and personality issues) of their own. Do all of you find that instructors have favorites and the rest are somehow lesser students therefore ignored? How do the real nurses treat the student nurses in clinicals. Do you find that most nurses are willing to help the student nurses, or are you mostly handmaiden's for them? (this was a huge complaint when I was a student nurse). How would you change clinicals, if at all?

    I have no idea why anyone would waste two hours on infant car seats during class. I found that absurd, someone was wanting to fill time, I think.

    What makes care plans real for you? Do you see why they are used? Do they help you understand your theory? Do you think there's a better way to do it? Do your tests come mostly from lecture or your reading? Do you find tests questions consistent among the instructors?
  12. by   ManEnough
    Interesting questions. Ever thought about becoming a talk show host?

    I can say that as one of the 10 males out of 55 students in my class, I've never felt like I was treated any differently as a guy. I will say that I have had several instructors tell me that they preferred male students. When I asked why, answers ranged from "they're so much easier to deal with" to "they don't fight with each other like all the girls." I made a fascinating observation during my first semester. As all of the girls were making friends, choosing enemies and forming cliques, all of the guys managed to avoid the drama and get along. Many of us have nothing in common other than being male and in nursing school. But we all respect each other and I have never seen a single conflict between two male students. The girls? Let's just say I'm waiting for someone to produce a reality show on nursing school. (More backstabbing than Survivor).

    As for nursing careplans, I think they are a great learning tool. I've learned a lot about how to assess, how to plan for care and the proper way to carry out the plan. That said, I've had more than one instructor grade our performance entirely on careplans, never looking into the actual care given to the patient. I have classmates who are going to be amazing nurses that can't write a careplan to save their lives. I've seen others churn out amazing careplans who shouldn't be allowed to give their own kids Tylenol! I think they should be used as a learning tool but that students should always understand that patients come first. I have literally seen patients neglected (ex.- pain meds being delayed) so students can turn in their careplans on time and avoid the wrath of an instructor.

    One of the things I find most frustrating about nursing school is the idea that an instructor is either nice OR effective. These two are not mutually exclusive!!! You can be a very likable instructor and still challenge your students to do their best. It's all in the delivery and goes back to my point about self-esteem. Always consider a student's self-esteem when delivering feedback, positive or negative.

    Testing? Oye. That's another thread! (And another book I could write). Same goes for how staff nurses treat students at the hospitals. I will say this. I wish more people understood the concept of karma- you put out good energy and it comes back to you. I realize there is little tangible benefit to a staff nurse being kind and helpful to students.. they don't receive any extra money, their supervisors are unlikely to acknowledge their extra work and some students don't even show appreciation. That said, I think it's good karma to be helpful and teach students. I have learned more from listening and watching staff nurses than I have from lectures, texts and skills labs combined!

    One last thought. I was reminded of the worst thing I've seen in nursing school when I read over my description of a bad instructor. The worst thing I've seen (and trust me when I say I've seen many, many disturbing things) is when an instructor told a classmate "you're not RN material. And you never will be." Yes, it happened. And no, it's not true. She's turned out to be one of the best students in the class. I will be watching for a certain finger at graduation.
  13. by   ferfer
    The best instructor I have had was able to give us some freedom on the floor, was very knowledgeable, but never made us feel as though we were stupid. I think it is important to provide a lot of feedback. Humour is another thing that is so very important and makes that instructor stick out in your mind!
  14. by   lsyorke
    ""you're not RN material. And you never will be." "

    Memories!!!!! I was told by an instructor early on that I would never make it!! I was devastated and quit. Fast forward, returned to the same school graduated with a 3.9 GPA and Clinical Excellence Award. Oh revenge is sweet!!
    Instructors have to walk a fine line between professional and personal feelings about a student. Please be careful not to cross the line and inject your personal feelings about a student. They may not have your ideal personality, but variety is so important with the vast needs of the medical community.

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