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- by Naturally Brilliant Jan 15Recently I got hired at a hospital nearby as a CNA, which is wonderful because I'm taking this year off (2013) from nursing school and I do want more clinical experience. I felt that I wasn't getting enough clinical experience, and I did need a break from school, so this is ideal for me.
However, there's this one nursing instructor that I had who gave me a grade that wasn't particularly great, and I have been in the process of appealing that grade. But it was pretty clear that we didn't personally like each other either. All in all, it should be fine because I reasoned that I wouldn't have to see her or deal with her again.
Here's the problem: One of my friends that I talked to said that this instructor works as an RN on the exact same unit in which I was hired. What an awful coincidence! I hope that she doesn't work the same shifts and times that I do, but in case she does, then I think I'd feel uncomfortable.
I'm a bit worried that if she does find out I'm working in that unit, she'll go and tell the other nurses (including my new manager) about me and the bad grade she'd given me. I don't want that to happen and for others to know how I did in that class, or for her to possibly gossip about me.
Do I have any sort of legal protection when it comes to grades and academic records? Obviously I wouldn't go around discussing all my grades with any of my co-workers, but I don't want to feel like I'm in a threatened and fearful work environment. What should I do?
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- Jan 15 by hiddencatRNWhat's more likely to happen is that your coworkers find out she's your instructor and ask her about you. As long as you work hard and do your best, I don't see why them knowing you got a less than desirable grade would make a hostile environment for you. At worst it's a juicy piece of gossip and once people get to know you they will form their own opinions.
- Jan 15 by Naturally BrilliantAren't student records confidential, though? I mean, sure, the former nursing instructor isn't my boss, and my CNA work obviously is a very different role from that of a nursing student, but it's an issue of professional reputation.
Suppose hypothetically that your psych/mental health nursing instructor had given you an F in your clinical course, and you had to retake the course later on with a different instructor. And you got a CNA job at a psychiatric hospital because you wanted to improve upon those clinical skills (albeit at a different role) and familiarize yourself with the hospital's environment.
If your instructor, who was working at that hospital in an alternative role (i.e., an RN at the psych hospital) went around telling her co-workers, "Oh, I failed that new CNA when they took my course!", I'm sure that other RNs would want to know more details. Moreover, it'd cast doubt on one's role as a psych/mental health CNA if that person did poorly in a psych/mental health nursing student role.
I also wanted to add that obviously I wouldn't talk to this instructor if I saw her in the hospital, but if I had to work under her as a CNA I would strictly stick to my job and ignore any attempts at non-pt. related communication with her.
- Jan 15 by hiddencatRNI had to provide transcripts when I applied to jobs as a new grad, so if they're not getting an academic reference directly from an instructor (and really, it would raise questions ANYWAY if you said "please don't talk to this nurse who was my instructor" when if you had a positive experience in the clinical, that's exactly the kind of "in" you'd want to be milking) they're likely going to see the grades anyway.
- Jan 15 by Naturally BrilliantThe CNA position I had applied to and had gotten the job for did not require one to be a nursing student, much less provide transcripts or academic records. Moreover, why would they? I didn't get an RN job, so what relevance does RN-related coursework have to a non-RN job?
- Why would a reference about your personality and work ethic matter in a CNA position? Really? This kind of networking and info sharing is common in healthcare and especially nursing. The key is to use it to your advantage and get along with your coworkers and superiors even if you don't like them. There's a good chance your manager already talked to your instructor while you were applying to find out how you behave around patients, if you seem like you'd be a good fit for the unit, if there were any major red flags about you.
- Jan 16 by Naturally BrilliantYou're missing my point. If my new manager had known who my instructor was (which I doubt) and asked about me, that's fine. For common-sense reasons, one would obviously list references of individuals who can attest to their strengths rather than other people who would give, shall we say, less glowing endorsements.
My issue is if the instructor were to discuss my academic situation out of her own volition to co-workers. I feel that there's a red line there.
- Quote from Naturally BrilliantAnd you are missing mine. If you want legal advice, you need to talk to a lawyer. If you want practical advice about networks and relationships in the workplace and how to handle this situation, we can help you there. It is not unlikely that your poor clinical grade will or already has come out. Healthcare is a small community, and unofficial references like that happen all the time. Best thing you can do is prove yourself to be a hard worker, eager learner, proactive, and a team player.You're missing my point.
- Jan 16 by Naturally BrilliantThat's what I need to know: Whether or not I have grounds to seek legal advice in the first place. Suppose that my now-former instructor had said to other nurses, "Oh, that new CNA, that person was my student, and I am shocked that the hospital hired them because etc. etc." I would certainly be offended by that workplace gossip, but that's still a subjective assessment on her part.
However, if this instructor had said, "Oh, I failed (or gave a 'C'/'D'/'F') to that student in my course because he/she wasn't getting it", I feel that's different. Grades and academic records are an objective metric, and if I'm not mistaken, are protected by laws.
So suppose my manager or some other RN on the floor were to ask, "Hey, did that lady really fail (or give you a 'C'/'D'/'F') you in her course?" I need to know if that's grounds for breaching one's confidential academic records. Doesn't FERPA protect ones grades specifically from non-academic sources?
- Giving out legal advice is against TOS. That's why you need to consult a lawyer if you think you have a legal question. That's why my advice is focused on non-legal aspects of your situation.