Help: My Nursing Instructor is a Bully!

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    How do you deal with a nursing instructor who is a bully, uses intimidation tactics, has an enormous amount of power and is completely unprofessional and unfair? I find myself "blacklisted" for no reason, and I feel like quitting everyday. I am able to maintain a B average in nursing and A&P, but if being a nurse means dealing with people like this--I just don't think I have the stomach for it. I wouldn't let this nursing instructor take care of my dog. She is an absolute disgrace to her profession and is not caring or thoughtful. It's so frustrating, as nursing school is difficult enough, without having your instructor making life even more miserable. I understand that nursing school is like a "boot camp"; however, this behavior I am dealing with is just so over the top. Another note, this nursing instructor's reputation precedes her: for the past 2 years--other nursing students have warned me about this instructor, and currently I would estimate about 90% of the nursing students think she is horrific. Even others that work at the school have warned me not to cross her or go to the Dean (apparently, she intimidates co-workers and the Dean too). I have also been told by "others" at the school that she has not been fired for her behavior as nursing educators are difficult to recruit nowadays. They also told me that if they had a dollar for every student that told them a nightmare story--they would be millionaires.

    I would be more detailed about the exact things that have occurred, but I fear that would make it too simple to identify the persons involved. What I will say is that I paid the school and this "instructor" alot of money to teach me--not bully me and treat me with such disrespect and contempt. Although I will freely admit that I am only human and have made mistakes in my life--in this particular instance, I have done absolutely nothing wrong.

    Any advice or encouragement would be appreciated. Thanks.
    Valerie Salva likes this.
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  3. 26 Comments so far...

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    I have been there my friend! I have gotten my share of being treated like a child and being degraded. Now, I am at a school where most of the Instructors treat the students with respect. I hate it when these instructors behave like little Gods. They seem to forget that they were students too and some of them do not know what to do when they are in the hospital because they have not worked there for a long time.

    I would ignore this instructor and only speak to her when it is extremely necessary. I honestly do not encourage petty talk with my instructors because they can be very hypocritical and mean. As soon as I am assigned my patients, I disappear in thin air until I am ready to give my medication. I always find something to do in my patients' room. Keep the faith my dear it will soon be over!
    Lovely_RN and MOLLBEE like this.
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    Without any specifics, I (we) can't interpret what may be going on. But I will say, I had the blessing of having the "Clinical Drill Instructor" as an instructor for first level. Yes I said it was a blessing, I learned more in that 5 weeks of clinical than any other semester thus far, she challenged us, was thorough, fair, and very demanding. Yes, she made 2 students cry because they weren't sufficiently prepared. Yes, I got nervous about my knowledge of my meds, my careplan, the pt's disease process. It beats the tar out of what I am experiencing now, with an instructor that has yet to ask me a med question, about a disease process, or why I would do this or that to a pt with X.
    At any rate, on the floor you'll have to deal with demanding, needy patients and families. And believe it or not pts and family will ask harder questions and comments than your CIs (with good reason), "what is this med?", "why do I need that?", "I take that at 8am, not 10am (or noon), why are you changing my schedule?", "it hurts to turn, cough, deep breath, I'm not going to do it", the list is endless you get the point.
    One track you could take is to ask questions about your progress, get a feel of where the instructor thinks you are and if you are progressing. And finally, ask your questions in the med room not the pt's room, and always have a med book handy (that's real life). If your CI is like mine was you are prepared by the time you get to the pt room, put on your confident face and do what you've gotta do.
    suzy253 likes this.
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    Stay as far away from this instructor as you possibly can and when have to be in her presence only speak when spoken to. It seems like she has a lot of power and it also seems as if your school's administration is aware and supports her behavior. So what can you do?
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    i agree with Kevin on this one. Two years in and it sounds like she's preparing you for the real world of nursing. Yes, she is challenging you and you will deal with some really difficult people in the real world. I'm only 2 years into nursing and believe me, family members can be brutal.

    I had an instructor who had this type of reputation and now when I see her with her current students on clinical rotations in my hospital, I thank her from the bottom of my heart for making me the nurse I am today.
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    Quote from Kevin RN08
    Without any specifics, I (we) can't interpret what may be going on. But I will say, I had the blessing of having the "Clinical Drill Instructor" as an instructor for first level. Yes I said it was a blessing, I learned more in that 5 weeks of clinical than any other semester thus far, she challenged us, was thorough, fair, and very demanding. Yes, she made 2 students cry because they weren't sufficiently prepared. Yes, I got nervous about my knowledge of my meds, my careplan, the pt's disease process. It beats the tar out of what I am experiencing now, with an instructor that has yet to ask me a med question, about a disease process, or why I would do this or that to a pt with X.
    At any rate, on the floor you'll have to deal with demanding, needy patients and families. And believe it or not pts and family will ask harder questions and comments than your CIs (with good reason), "what is this med?", "why do I need that?", "I take that at 8am, not 10am (or noon), why are you changing my schedule?", "it hurts to turn, cough, deep breath, I'm not going to do it", the list is endless you get the point.
    One track you could take is to ask questions about your progress, get a feel of where the instructor thinks you are and if you are progressing. And finally, ask your questions in the med room not the pt's room, and always have a med book handy (that's real life). If your CI is like mine was you are prepared by the time you get to the pt room, put on your confident face and do what you've gotta do.
    I agree! Now that I am practicing, I have a lot of respect for the woman- sure, I think she targeted certain people, and I hated her classes. But she's smart, an educator at heart (I hated getting in groups or the other silly things we did in class, but realize now she was trying to reach everyone, not just the ones who learned through lecture, and wanted us to THINK). She is a total patients advocate and if that means stepping on your toes, then so be it.
    That being said, at the time, I hated her guts. I'd skip her class and just read the book instead, since we usually we discussing stuff instead of lecture (not my learning style). I didn't have her until the final semester for psych! I steered clear of her, and when I went to class, I laid low. No asking questions, no making myself known to her. LOL
    She tended to respect the senior nursing students more than the freshman, so that helped some as well. LOL
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    Quote from MOLLBEE
    How do you deal with a nursing instructor who is a bully, uses intimidation tactics, has an enormous amount of power and is completely unprofessional and unfair? I find myself "blacklisted" for no reason. . .Any advice or encouragement would be appreciated. Thanks.
    When they say, "Jump!" you say, "How high?" You say, "Yes, ma'am", and take what ever bones they throw you. You are the slave and they are the master. As long as you maintain your place the worst shouldn't happen. You must kowtow to people like this because they are authoritarians and hold the reins of power. You stand in the back and hope they don't notice you. If they make a mistake pray its a big one, get proof, go for it and try to clip their wings.
    Lovely_RN likes this.
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    There's a big difference between a demanding instructor who insists that you rise to the occasion and a bully who operates by demeaning and intimidating students. To suggest that intimidation tactics prepare students for the "real world" is ludicrous. Administrators who allow such rude behavior to continue despite repeated complaints are simply teaching students that such behavior is acceptable. And then we wonder why so much is written about horizontal violence in the workplace.
    macalania54 and MOLLBEE like this.
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    Just to clarify . . . this nursing instructor is not my clinical instructor; what she did has nothing to do with pushing me to make me better or to prepare me (well, maybe prepare me for the fact that there are difficult and rotten people in this world). What she did is more along the lines of what you would see in highschool. I am just absolutely appalled that this instructor is allowed to treat people this way with no consequences for her unprofessional, bad behavior. Like I said before, she is paid to teach me--not bully me. If I posted what this instructor actually did, you would all be shocked.
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    Frankly, there's not much more we can say when you can only speak in generalities. My mother was like Judge Judy with a belt in one hand and a broom in the other. And she went after us kids mercilessly and unfairly. All we could do was keep out of her way. That's what you do with a bully--stay out of their way and when they are near you don't do anything to aggravate them. If you do try to stand up to a bully you do so at your own peril. They hold the reins of power over you. End of story.


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