Hellish Clinicals

  1. :angryfire I'm in the clinical experience from Hell! :angryfire
    I'm in my last semester of an ADN program. Until this point, I feel I've actually been ENCOURAGED to become a nurse--to ask questions and to take the time to learn to do a skill right the first time. This semester, my clinical experience has me just about convinced that I've made a terrible mistake.
    We are on a very hectic telemetry unit. Our instructor has decided it's best for us to "find out now how stressful nursing really is", so she has directed the nurse's aides to refuse any help we might need. Each day we get three patients, at least one of which is total care, and frequently one of which is in strict isolation for one infection or another. In addition to basic care, we are also responsible for researching and administering all of their medications and completing the associated paperwork. The paperwork is always a challenge because the nurses refuse to let us HAVE the paperwork, so we must hunt down the nurse in charge of our patient every time we need to make an entry. Our instructor wants us to be able to "handle pressure", so she belittles us and yells at us in front of staff and patients if we make the tiniest error or omission. The nurses on the floor are also her "eyes and ears", as we have all discovered the hard way when we have asked seasoned nurses in confidence for advice, then gotten reprimanded by our instructor for not knowing the answer ourselves. We are also getting little "mind games" played on us, like nurses offering to get med's, needles or tubing for us, then getting the wrong thing so our instructor can see if we pick up on the mistake before we walk into the room. I'm in a constant state of dread of each clinical day, and my only goal when I walk in the hospital each morning is that I will be able to avoid notice, either good or bad. I can't sleep and my stomach hurts all the time. Soon we will get 4 patients each. I hate to think I've wasted all this time and effort, but if this is what nursing is like, I want no part of it. I wish I had never started nursing school. Yuck. How do I get through the next three months and get some of my confidence back? Is this what I can expect when I start working?
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  2. 27 Comments

  3. by   Achoo!
    That is terrible!! I can't believe they would yell at you in front of a patient. So much for following the mission statement of the hospital huh? Just remember, it will all be over soon, not long now!!
  4. by   Altra
    Dawson,

    Nothing like negative reinforcement, huh? Yeah, that makes me want to be a better nurse ...

    This sounds way over the top, and more importantly, unsafe for patients. Suppose you didn't notice the error when the wrong thing was handed to you - are they going to let you go, and potentially have harm result, just so that someone can turn around and say "Ha - you didn't pick up on that!"

    The only advice I can offer is that maybe a change in your demeanor may help. Instead of lurking around like the unworthy nursing student, maybe it's time to take charge of yourself and say "This is what I need to know to care for this patient." Or showing that you're prioritizing appropriately - "Patient A & Patient B both need X right now, so since the physical laws of the universe are not suspended in this hospital and I can't literally be in two places at one time, this how I'm going to handle the situation." (yes, I'm being sarcastic just for some humor ... Of course we're expected to know more the further along we are, but I can't respect an instructor who won't answer a question when it potentially impacts patient care. An instructor can and should discuss performance with a student later but not when a patient needs care.

    I don't know if that helps or not. Good luck ... feel free to vent when you need to.
  5. by   Baby Catcher
    That sounds rough but you've come to far to quit now. Your instructor is very wrong for making you feel like you can't ask questions. That is a sentinal event waiting to happen. Even if you have to suffer her wrath ask questions before you do anything you're not sure of! It's your butt on the line. I can't believe the nurses on that unit go along with that crap. Why would they risk patient safety by making students afraid to ask questions? Unbelievable! Hang in there. I know it's tough but you can do it.
  6. by   LeesieBug
    That is ridiculous. I have no idea what makes some people believe that that kind of environment is conducive to learning. Sounds like someone is on a power trip....

    You might want to consider talking with the instructor, and if she is too belligerant to listen to your concerns maybe talk to someone higher up. it would be a shame to waste your last semester, your opportunity to finalize your learning before heading off into your career, because the instructor is clueless.

    Hang in there.
  7. by   Carolanne
    Wow, would your instructor have any relation to the Hitlers? There are several contrite sayings we could post here ... this too shall pass, every black cloud has a silver lining, but that's not going to help you. It sounds like this is this instructor's teaching strategy and all of her students are treated in this fashion, no exceptions. So at least it's good to know that it's not you personally that she's singling out, it's how she conducts her clinicals. I know it's easy to say hang in there, but you're almost done with the program. Sounds like this knuckle buster is the last one you have to get through that will make or break you. Try not to get a bad taste in your mouth about nursing, think back to all of your accomplishments and all the good grades and experiences you have had, and don't let this one semester outshine it. Try not to make it personal and don't get sick over it, it's not worth it. I had a pip of an instructor the semester before lost and had similar feelings and began doubting my ability and confidence in becoming a nurse. I actually went to the library and got some self-help and improvement tapes and listened to them. They actually did help and got my confidence level back up enough to get through that bloomin' course. It also made me look at my instructor a little differently. Good luck to you, you'll do it. You've come this far, it's the final sprint of the race!
  8. by   heatherbless
    I would just do the best I can and when you graduate--report her to the BON in your state when you have your license.
  9. by   Sadie04
    Dawson,
    So sorry your clinical experience is so terrible, you have my sympathy. The nursing shortage is also affecting nursing schools because there aren't enough instructors to teach clinicals so often schools have to take what they can get. My last clinical before graduation was horrible (it was my psych rotation) and I think my instructor was psycho!!! She played mind games with most of us, and was extremely manipulative. She had an unwritten rule that we should all wear turtlenecks to clinical so as not to appear "provocatively dressed." Well, I don't own many turtlenecks, so one week I wore shirt with a shirt with a regular collar (like a crew neck, not the least bit provocative) and she sent me home to change, saying "can't let you on the unit like that." She also did this to 2 other female students, one of which wore a sweater (without a turtleneck, God forbid!) She threatened to fail all 3 of us. The 2 male students were treated like gold. Several of us complained and fortunately she was let go because her behavior was so bizarre.
    Don't worry, you WILL get through this and be a great nurse!
  10. by   S.N. Visit
    Unbelievable :uhoh21: I'll keep you in prayer, for strength and courage to get you through this horrible semester.
    Hearing stories like this scares me! You can't ask questions? ...even the turtle neck story, blows my mind! (W.T.H ,were thoses instructor's thinking?)
  11. by   kimtab
    "Real" nurses delegate tasks to Ancillary personnel, ask for help from their charge nurse or fellow staff when they need it and..feel free to look up or ask the answer to a question when they don't know it! So she isn't doing you any favors and it sounds likes she is just sadistic. You are being asked to behave as a nurse without being offered any of the support the staff nurses would get and you are being actively tripped up on top of that. That isn't right. How are other clinical groups in your class being treated?

    Kim
  12. by   Mithrah
    Quote from kimtab
    "Real" nurses delegate tasks to Ancillary personnel, Kim
    Good point. As a student nurse you should be delgating tasks to CNAs and LPNs. Your instructor needs that red, hot poker pulled out of her.
  13. by   VivaLasViejas
    WOW. :angryfire And to think you're actually PAYING this instructor to 'teach' you how to be a nurse!!

    Yes, nursing has its stresses, and you're going to have bad days. But THIS is far too much 'realism', far too soon. In your place, I wouldn't let this instructor drive me out of the program, but I WOULD find out what other students' clinical group experiences are like (I'm assuming your class has more than one instructor) and see if you can transfer to another group for the rest of the term. If nothing else, talk with your fellow students in your own group and see what THEY think of all this; if they're bearing up well, maybe you need to toughen up a little and just plow through it. My suspicion, however, is that they're ALL miserable, and you all need to approach the instructor as a group and tell her how you feel. If that doesn't do any good, then go up the food chain to the program director, and then to the college president if need be.

    This is NOT the way to produce good nurses. But you are the only one who can decide what you're willing to put up with in order to finish your program. I wish you the best; keep us posted, OK?
  14. by   nekhismom
    So sorry to hear that your clinicals are going so poorly this semester. Unfortunately, I had instructors like that too. We complained, took a teacher to the dean, and nothing ever happened. It sucks, but we managed to pull together and get through it. I'm not saying this instructor's behavior was acceptable in any way Just take heart and realize that you are not alone in being treated poorly on the clinical floor.

    One instructor routinely made people cry in my school. The staff was so used to seeing students cry that they didn't even get offended when they witnessed it. Strangely, this instructor never yelled at me in front of a patient. He did yell at me for jumping when he was drawing up medicine and I walked past the med cart and he squirted me. I didn't know what he was drawing up, and I didn't want to get stuck. But that SET HIM OFF!! He yelled at me in front of the other students, the nurses and the doctors. I remained very calm, and when he finished, I just said, "yes, mr ___, you are right. I should not be scared of you or your actions. I won't be alarmed next time. Please forgive my mistake." He never yelled at me again.

    Another trick is to ALWAYS look busy. I'm sure that you usually ARE busy, but in the rare instance that you are not, you should appear to be overwhelmed anyway. This keeps instructors from bothering you too much. If you have nothing to do, change linens, or just carry linens into a room, talk to the patient for a while, do whatever the patient may need done, and take those linens out and put them in the laundry bin later on . And try not to be found. I'm not saying hide, but stay in patients rooms if at all possible. Take the time to talk to your patients rather than roaming the halls or chatting with students. Just make yourself scarce and you are less likely to be sought out.

    Take heart, you are going to graduate soon and this will be over. Nursing is not always like your clinicals. I hope you can get things straightened out with this instructor before the end of the semester, though, for your sake and the sake of your fellow students.

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