Clinical instructor drunk or on something

  1. Today was our first day of clinicals for the new semester. In the morning our instructor seemed a little "off". She was kind of unsteady on her feet. She said that she was very tired. We did not see her for the first two hours of clinical. When it was time to pull meds we went to find her. She was in the break room sleeping.

    When she was pulling the meds she was very unsteady on her feet and it took her over a half hour to pull meds for 1 patient. When she went into the room with one of the students to give the medication, she fell asleep sitting in the patient's chair. The nurses on the floor and all the students kept asking her if she was feeling okay. She just kept saying that she was tired.

    At post conference she was swaying back and forth, almost falling out of her chair. She kept nodding off and when she would wake back up she would make strange, unrelated comments. I do not know what to do. The consensus of the students was to wait and see what she is like on our next clinical day. I was very uncomfortable today and did not feel like she was safe to be supervising us. I am concerned about reporting her to head of our nursing department for fear of repercussions. Any advice?
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  2. 50 Comments

  3. by   Rosa2Little
    There could be many reasons for your instructor's condition, and it may not be attributed to being on something.

    Contact the clinical coordinator for your program and share your worries for the sake of his/her health.

    Always listen to what your gut tells you.
  4. by   GeminiTwinRN
    When I did my psych rotation, the CI was drunk several times. She took us to a mexican restaurant after clinicals each time, and always ordered 4-5 top shelf margaritas (and only queso dip with chips for food) while she was doing pour post-conference.

    I felt extremely uncomfortable during this rotation. The only saving grace was that we were not passing meds, so she really didn't have to supervise for patient safety during meds.

    I think whatever her problem is, your clinical instructor needs to be reported. No matter what, patient safety is FIRST! Falling asleep in patient's rooms, in the break room, during post-conference.. all of that is UNSAFE. You can report her annonymously, can't you? For the sake of the patient's safety,her license, and your experience, something needs to be done. She may be a narcoleptic. She may have been on meds that she isn't used to. None of the reasons matter in the end, it just doesn't sound safe.

    Please do something. Don't sit idly by worrying about her feelings. Worry instead about the patient's, and about your own safety.
  5. by   cardiacRN2006
    She could be actually be very, very tired. Regardless, her behavior needs to be reported. She was unsafe and unprofessional. If you came to clinicals behaving the same way, you better believe you'd have a meeting about it...
  6. by   Soup Turtle
    I would wait for day two and see how it goes. Even the very best out there have an "off" day. I wouldn't go running to report her, but if this is going to be a regular thing, then yikes!
  7. by   llg
    I would definitely report it to the appropriate person within the school.

    Also, if it happens during an actual clinical time, the nurses on the unit should be alerted to the situation and encouraged to report it up their chain of command at the hospital. Asking the hospital to investigate will take the pressure off you students.

    Ethically, it is your duty to report it. I think the first place would be to the unit's management team right as it was happening so that they could observe and properly document the situation. The hospital would probably follow up with the school. However, the students should also follow up with the school immediately. While everybody has an "off day," that instructor's behavior crossed the line. Hopefully, it is nothing serious and will not happen again -- but it might be due to a serious medical condition or personal problem.
  8. by   Bala Shark
    Give her a few days and dont report..She might have been just tired or ill..It is not fair for her if there was just one bad day..I will hold off on reporting until I see her again..It is not just fair..You see, she could be fired and you are left with no clinical instructor..And also, you are not giving her a chance to see how how she is really like..And by you reporting, she could get fired and unemployed which is a bad thing for her..
    Last edit by Bala Shark on Jan 12, '07
  9. by   edgwow
    I would not wait to report her to her supervisor. This is not about pride/ reprecussions, but patient safety at risk. You are and always will be an advocate for your patients. She may be ill or tired, but unprofessionalism should not be tolerated. I would keep all your test grades written somewhere and ask the dean to assist you, in case this teacher has it in for you afterwards. I would also ask fellow students if they observed this behavior, if so, I would go with another fellow classmate to the dean. Do not start rumors as to what you think she may have been doing, ie: drugs or alcohol> Let the dean do her/his job and let them take care of it. It takes courage to speak up against an instructor, but patient safety needs to be paramount.
  10. by   KellieNurse06
    Quote from Bala Shark
    Give her a few days and dont report..She might have been just tired or ill..It is not fair for her if there was just one bad day..I will hold off on reporting until I see her again..It is not just fair..You see, she could be fired and you are left with no clinical instructor..And also, you are not giving her a chance to see how how she is really like..And by you reporting, she could get fired and unemployed which is a bad thing for her..
    True, but a patients life could be on the line , which could be bad for everyone..... You have to think of this situation as if your loved one was being cared for by her.....that would make me be a bit more concerned.... Yes we all have bad days......but literally sleeping in the break room when she should be out supervising the students??? That would be interesting hearing her explanation if something did happen if she had to answer to the bon.....
  11. by   KellieNurse06
    Quote from Bala Shark
    Give her a few days and dont report..She might have been just tired or ill..It is not fair for her if there was just one bad day..I will hold off on reporting until I see her again..It is not just fair..You see, she could be fired and you are left with no clinical instructor..And also, you are not giving her a chance to see how how she is really like..And by you reporting, she could get fired and unemployed which is a bad thing for her..
    The school has an obligation to provide a clinical instructor even if they have to call in someone from outside......we were almost stuck with no instructor right up to 2 days before out last rotation started.....they found us an instructor and we were told the school is obligated to find someone regardless of the situation.....
  12. by   Bala Shark
    Quote from KellieNurse06
    True, but a patients life could be on the line , which could be bad for everyone..... You have to think of this situation as if your loved one was being cared for by her.....that would make me be a bit more concerned.... Yes we all have bad days......but literally sleeping in the break room when she should be out supervising the students??? That would be interesting hearing her explanation if something did happen if she had to answer to the bon.....
    Wait, now you are accusing her of being unsafe and there was no visual evidence that she was...I guess if you come in tired and are ill during working, someone will report you for being unsafe..How is that for karma for you!
    Last edit by Bala Shark on Jan 12, '07
  13. by   Daytonite
    Quote from RN-in-Training
    I am concerned about reporting her to head of our nursing department for fear of repercussions.
    How are you going to feel when she does this again and her behavior results in harm to a patient knowing that you might have been able to stop it from happening?

    Tell another instructor or the dean of your nursing program today! You have an obligation to protect the patients you serve.

    This was not normal behavior for someone who was just very tired. She was impaired. In fact, you didn't know this, but you should have reported her immediately to the nursing office or one of the nursing managers at the facility you were working. Someone from nursing administration should have taken her by the arm and escorted her to the ER and demanded she be tested for drugs or alcohol or dismissed her and all of her students to home.
  14. by   BoonersmomRN
    Quote from Bala Shark
    Wait, now you are accusing her of being unsafe and there was no visual evidence that she was...

    Sleeping when you are supposed to on the floor supervising students is....unsafe. Thank god nothing occured during her watch...er lack thereof.

    If she was that tired OR ill the responsible, safe thing to do would have been to call out. She is responsible for supervising ...you can't exactly supervise when you are sleeping in the breakroom.

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