Challenging your Instructor

  1. I was recently told by my instructor that I displayed rude behavior in class towards her. She claims because I said "are you sure about that?" that I was being rude. The two times in which I remember saying something along those lines was when she said:
    1. birth control pills cause infertility and
    2. cervical mucous ONLY function is to kill sperm and protect the uterus from pregnancy (not true).

    Am I not supposed to question her? As a result of all of this, her temperment towards me has changed 100%. She has been nasty as a result.

    Since when has nursing school become a "teacher-dictator / student shut up and listen" routine? Basically, whatever they say goes and god help the student who dares to speak up.
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  2. 21 Comments

  3. by   Clarise
    Also wanted to add that she told me "80% of what you read on the internet is false." ummm, what?
  4. by   canoehead
    I also think she was incorrect in those statements, but apparently she didn't take it well. Keep quiet and pass would be my motto.
  5. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from Clarise
    Also wanted to add that she told me "80% of what you read on the internet is false." ummm, what?
    Well, I think her point here is to be careful what you read on the net . . . .snopes.com is a great asset for checking out internet myths.

    As to the original complaint from the teacher . . . . "are you sure about that" does sound a bit rude.

    And yes, unfortunately it is a dictatorship . . . .

    I went back to college in my late 30's and I was older than some of the teachers and it did stick in my craw that these young "whippersnappers" were so condescending and rude to the students.

    Maybe a private conversation with the teacher is in order.

    steph
  6. by   Clarise
    I had a private conversation with her yesterday. Albeit the "are you sure about that" happened 3 to 4 weeks ago. I was in her office on a different matter and this was brought up. Apparently she was really offended by what I said. Of course I apologized stating it was not my intent to make her feel uncomfortable nor to challenge her authority or experience - rather I needed to clarify the information.

    If I am going to be a nurse, I need to know what to tell my clients. She has the responsibility as the instructor to provide factual information based on medical research, not just based on her one year experience working in an infertility clinic.

    I have learned a valuable lesson, though. I won't be asking a single question in class ever again.
  7. by   ZASHAGALKA
    The problem is that too many nursing instructors feel that it is their 'duty' to weed out those not 'nursing material'.

    That makes for such subjective criteria that it is simply dangerous to challenge them. They DO have substantial power over your future career.

    The fact that some nursing schools have attrition rates approaching 50% is not something to take lightly. With the waiting lists today, the quality of students are up. So, it's not like half of all nursing students aren't successful students. It's that they are deemed, in too many cases, for whatever reason, 'not nursing material'.

    There are battles worth fighting but it's not wise to die on some hill when the 'war' is to become a nurse.

    I can't tell you how many times I held my tongue in nursing school. As a direct result, I am a nurse. If I had stated my opposition to some of the utter garbage they taught, I almost certainly would have been deemed 'not nursing material'.

    It reminds me of a friend of mine, in the military, when we both worked in top secret facilities. Everytime we left work, as soon as we were out of earshot, he'd gleefully state, "Ha! Fooled them again!" In many ways, that was my attitude towards nursing school.

    ~faith,
    Timothy.
    Last edit by ZASHAGALKA on Dec 1, '06
  8. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from Clarise
    I had a private conversation with her yesterday. Albeit the "are you sure about that" happened 3 to 4 weeks ago. I was in her office on a different matter and this was brought up. Apparently she was really offended by what I said. Of course I apologized stating it was not my intent to make her feel uncomfortable nor to challenge her authority or experience - rather I needed to clarify the information.

    If I am going to be a nurse, I need to know what to tell my clients. She has the responsibility as the instructor to provide factual information based on medical research, not just based on her one year experience working in an infertility clinic.

    I have learned a valuable lesson, though. I won't be asking a single question in class ever again.

    I wish the teacher/student relationship could be like the nurse/patient. But unfortunately I think that some "bad apple" students/teachers ruined it for the rest of us.

    I have had experiences with students who were downright aggressively rude in class to the teachers and maybe teachers now just try to protect themselves from that. And of course, teachers have browbeat some students.

    Your relationship with your future patients shouldn't be negatively affected by nursing school - hopefully.

    Good luck!

    steph
    Last edit by Spidey's mom on Nov 30, '06
  9. by   augigi
    Welcome to lesson #1 in nusing - interpersonal relations. It doesn't really matter if what you said was actually "rude" - what matters is that in her perception it was upsetting. (Probably a sign of her own insecurity, but let's not get into that...). It's hard to tell from here how it happened, but often what you say is not as important as how you say it. Nobody likes to have their knowledge or authority questioned in public.

    At school, you learn when to question, and when to shut up and find out for yourself. In the case mentioned, with a touchy instructor, I'd write down what she said, then go check it out for myself. Then I'd probably go up after class and ask "how does this fit in with what I wrote down? I may be wrong, but I thought you said..........., however this article (use research or texts, not info from questionable sources) says ............ . Would you be able to read it and let me know which is correct?"

    It's all a game when someone else has power over your future. Of course, if an instructor repeatedly made incorrect statements to the class and stood by them, I would then document that and take it higher up.
  10. by   BSNtobe2009
    I agree with your instructor. When you start a question off with "Are you sure about that" to a seasoned instructor, it it rude. It's a rhetorical question...if the instructor wasn't sure, they wouldn't have made the statement.

    A better way to have asked the question was, "I just have a quick question...you just said ___________...but I thought _____________. I'm not sure where I got it from, but I just want to be sure I remember __________ correctly."
  11. by   smk1
    I always say "cooperate and graduate". If you do need clarification, make sure it is in a non-challenging manner and preferable not in front on a lot of people. Stay under the radar.
  12. by   cardiacRN2006
    Quote from Clarise
    I was recently told by my instructor that I displayed rude behavior in class towards her. She claims because I said "are you sure about that?" that I was being rude. The two times in which I remember saying something along those lines was when she said:
    1. birth control pills cause infertility and
    2. cervical mucous ONLY function is to kill sperm and protect the uterus from pregnancy (not true).

    Am I not supposed to question her? As a result of all of this, her temperment towards me has changed 100%. She has been nasty as a result.

    Since when has nursing school become a "teacher-dictator / student shut up and listen" routine? Basically, whatever they say goes and god help the student who dares to speak up.

    Like Tim said, many, many times I've held my tongue in nursing skill. It is as much of a skill as changing a dressing LOL! It's hard, but a necessity.

    I could talk forever on the cervical mucus thing-but I won't bore you! She's only half right on both topics.
  13. by   llg
    As BSNtobe2009 suggested, the problem may not have been that you asked a question... the problem may have been in the way you asked your question. Learning how to question the statements of others so that you don't offend them is an important skill you will need throughout your career.

    Whether you call it "tact," "courtesy" "respect" or whatever, you will frequently find yourself with a question or doubt about what someone else has said and you will have to use that skill to resolve the situation. Giving up and simply not ever asking another question is NOT the right approach. That's the kind of reaction that hurts the patients when the nurse doesn't question an incorrect order or when someone blindly follows a policy they know should be changed. That type of retreat in order to protect yourself is often a terrible response and one that can cause great harm.

    You'll need to work on your communication and interpersonal skills in order to handle these situations productively in the future. You'll need to learn to question physicians, your boss, your preceptors, your senior nurses, etc. You might as well start now learning how to speak with your faculty. That's the professional way to handle it.

    llg
  14. by   RNfromMN
    i have a teacher like this....constantly giving us wrong information, mispronounces the simplest of medical terminology, etc. she's the only teacher i've had so far that will not give us an opportunity to go over exams to challenge her on what we got wrong - she claims this is some sort of cheating...my personal theory is that she is entirely insecure with herself and her skills, knows she shouldn't be teaching and is absolutely terrified of being proven wrong.

    you're not wrong for challenging your instructor...i wouldn't even call it challenging, i would call it clarifying and it's what we're paying tuition to be able to do. teachers like this are scary because even if you can figure out how to pass their class, you're basically on your own when it comes to nclex.

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