Abusive and Cruel Clinical Instructors: Why??

  1. Forgive me, but I've noticed on these boards when a student is afraid of a overly harsh clinical instructor, there seems to be a running theme: angry clinical instructors that embarrass students, intimidate them, and make them afraid of them are the clinical instructors you want, because they make you work hard?


    This is grossly incorrect, in my humble opinion. I had a clinical instructor who picked on only me in a class of eight people. She would actually chart for other students, was kind to them. When it came to me, she embarrassed me in front of patients, their families, and other staff. She talked down to me, she consistently made me feel that I was not going to be a good nurse.

    Absolutely EVERYTHING I did was wrong, and nothing I did was right. Even when there were no mistakes on my charting, she made it a point NOT to tell me how well I was doing, yet did it with other students.

    It had a horrible effect on me: I lost 25 pounds, I was stressed out beyond belief. I was not sleeping, and it took a toll on other classes I was taking. I am an A student, and I began to get grades that were below that. It was then that I took control of my life.

    I realized that when there is a person, instructor, boss, manager, who you can NEVER, EVER PLEASE, despite how hard you work, and how correct your work may be, there may be a personality disorder there, and you may need to simply talk to other faculty who may be able to talk to the instructor. You may just need to realize that IT'S NOT YOU, IT'S THEM. And that's ok. It's ok to realize that you are doing your best, and there are people who you cannot please. But lateral violence, nurses being mean and cruel to each other, and younger nurses accepting this attitude and even praising it is baffling to me.

    This harshness and uncaring attitude that some clinical instructors show to students is what fuels lateral violence in the nursing profession, and it makes being a nurse more about personality conflicts than taking care of patients. In nursing school, I have seen more times than I care to remember other nurses who are mean and cruel to new nurses, or me as a nursing student. I don't cower in a corner like many nursing students, I stand up to nurses like that, and demand to be treated with respect.

    I can understand that nursing students may be afraid to cross these clinical instructors, but what kind of nurse will you be, and how can you advocate for patients, if you cannot advocate for yourself? You need courage to be a nurse, and it seems that the message on many boards is: "do what you can with mean clinical instructors, be silent, accept the abuse, and move on". This just seems strange to me since as nurses, we need to be strong for our patients.

    There is a nursing shortage going on, and we don't need students dropping out of programs because they have clinical instructors stuck in the past who think it's acceptable to embarrass and intimidate students and create a hostile class environment. It's unnecessary, and we as nurses need to acknowledge it.

    I think it's high time that abusive instructors and nurses who practice lateral violence to other nurses and CNA's realize just how they are making this nursing shortage worse, by discouraging bright and talented nurses who don't need the cruelty. For those of you who are reading this who practice this behavior and you know who you are: Stop It.

    And we wonder why so many nurses leave the profession.
    Last edit by Joe V on Apr 1, '14
  2. 164 Comments

  3. by   Skeletor
    Well made point
  4. by   midnight*sky
    Well said!!! (....I hope some of my instructors read this...)
  5. by   motivated2nurse
    I so agree with you. Well said.
  6. by   goodstudentnowRN

    You hit the nail on the head! I do not need to add to that...I have been through hell at my previous school with clinical instructors and I had to do something about it. Now, I have some wonderful instructors whose main interest is for students to do well. May God continue to bless those instructors..For those who are going through terrible times with these mentally unstable Clinical instructors..JOY COMETH IN THE MORNING!
  7. by   caliotter3
    There was such an instructor at my school who showed visible signs of mental illness. She bragged about her position in the school of seeing that a certain number of students were kicked out each term. A very, very sick person. You would agree if you ever heard her do her spiel. Despite that person's reputation, she has remained at the school for years. Leads one to speculate that she remains at the school for just the purpose she is so proud of, to get rid of students. She certainly is an inspiration to no one.
  8. by   GooeyRN
    Where I went to school, there were a few toxic teachers. :angryfire Some of the students were unfairly singled out. A group of students went to complain about the one teacher in particular. The teacher did get talked to about it. So do speak up. The teacher was nice as pie after that... She seemed to even control her mood swings somehow.
  9. by   dusky1228
    Not only instructors, but managers too. Your post came at a great time. I have been at my current job for 18 years without any issues or problems, and now just 6 weeks ago, there is a new manager, and I have had to have 3 meetings and countless reprimands over *nothing*. I cringe when I hear the phone if it's that manager. It has me on edge constantly. While your post won't make this problem go away, it made me feel better to have it confirmed that the problem is not me. If I have had over 20 managers in my career, and never had any problems, and *now* I do, then it obviously is not me.
    Thank you.
  10. by   twow
    sometimes clinical instructors are former nurses, some on the verge of losing their actual nursing jobs because of poor service to patients, who hated nursing and became a CI to get out. they were nasty to begin with, and nothing changed after making the switch. this describes a couple of nasty CIs in a program i am familiar with. i would bet this is common for CIs everywhere.
  11. by   Dr. Shelia, RN
    As a student you deserve quality clinical instruction. If you are coming to clinical with a firm academic background, prepared, and willing to learn and accept constructive criticism and you truly believe your clinical instructor is abusive-- talk directly to the instructor. If you do not receive results, go to the next in chain of command.

    If you are coming to clinical ill-prepared, lack a sound academic background, or are simply not up to speed--remember-- your instructor is not only caring for you-- but for your patients. Assess your own preparation first and correct any deficits.

    Students should not be exposed to abusive instructors. Instructors should not be expected to deal with immature or ill-prepared students. It's not about "us" vs. "them"-- it's about the patient.
  12. by   unwell
    I only have 7 months until I graduate with my ASN. Out of 5 clinical instructors I have only had a problem with one. She would embaress me in front of patients and family members on a regular basis and insult my intelligence in front of them. I would avoid doing new procedures because I didn't want her to come obeserve/embaress me. Many of the students had similar experiences. I began screaming about patients and the instructer in my sleep, having night terrors every night. She has threatened to fail me for not critically thinking, which is why I have never stood up to her. If she asks you a question, it doesn't matter if you answer it correctly, and even point it out in the textbook, her answer is the "right" answer. She gets her kicks from holding student's futures in her hands. I am very stressed and at a loss as for what to do about my situation. I cannot learn in that environment. HELP
  13. by   angelic_cherry03
    During my first attempt at nursing school I had an instuctor tell me i needed to drop out b/c I had a problem with 2 girls I went to high school w/ who were also in my nursing program. I thought it was very wrong that she would tell me to drop out over high school drama that did NOT enter school or clinical, it was outside drama she overheard on lunch break.
  14. by   cursedandblessed
    perhaps nursing schools should run background checks on their instructors. just happened to be cruising through our board of nursing website (as recommended by our nursing department to know more about our nurse practice act), and low and behold i found something that explains a whole lot. what you said about mental instability makes good sense.