Problems with constructive criticism

  1. My name is candace and I am in my last couple months of nursing school. In the past few years I have had a few clinical placements where I have done exceptionally well in (85%) , and some where I do not so well (65%). I have never done a med error or had an adverse event happen because of me, I am just trying to figure out - ok am I good enough for this or am I not? It seems like when I get criticism I take it really hard and lose all confidence in myself. I try and make excuses to make myself feel better but then I feel aweful for making excuses. Right now, my preceptor brought "concerns" about me to my faculty resource person and she is meeting with me in a few days to discuss. She says I am passing and am giving perfectly safe and accountable care but has ideas for me to work on to improve my mark. To me this sounds like "you aren't doing as good as you should be and you need to do better or else you're gonna fail if you don't show improvements". Does this happen to other students !? I feel like this happens to me often and am wondering if that's normal ? How can I do so well in some placements and do so poorly in others? Do you think it depends on the personality of the instructor? I have one now who reminds me of a drill Sargent. I am just so discouraged because I am almost done school and feel like I should be doing better at this point in my education. I terrified of entering the work force.
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    About nursecandace737

    Joined: Jan '13; Posts: 1


  3. by   classicdame
    I think you might be too hard on yourself. Listen to what the instructor has to say and take to heart whatever CONSTRUCTIVE suggestions she provides. You may never see her after graduation, so your goal is to graduate, not to make her your life long friend. I had a serious conflict with an instructor. I just figured she was another loop to jump thru. I graduated many years ago and now cannot even remember her name, only that I did not like her. So what? You should be able to judge if you are getting it or not. Don't worry.
  4. by   nurseprnRN
    You know, we see a lot of this in students who have been brought up being told how everything they do is great and wonderful, from the very first beaming "What a big girl! Such a good job!" The personal self-esteem thing is fine and dandy, but the problem comes when they get to a place where teachers and supervisors actually point out that at this point the special snowflake has room for improvement. Then these students feel like you do, because they really don't know what to do. This has rarely, if ever, happened before in their positive little world. In a nutshell, you are telling us you don't know how to handle constructive suggestions for improvement, and this makes you very anxious and feeling unmoored.

    Alas, I am not a therapist so I don't know how to tell you how to follow constructive suggestions other than to do what they tell you to do. I am in mind of the Ann Landers column when the teenager wrote in that her mother was always on her behind to pick up her room, do her homework, wash the dishes, and walk the dog. What should she do? The answer: Pick up your room, do your homework, wash the dishes, and walk the dog. Sometimes it really is that simple.
  5. by   bluedove1
    @grntea.....I think I love you! No holding back on your it! I love your spirit!
  6. by   perryjodilou
    Me too! And so helpful!
  7. by   Sadala
    85% and 65%? That's 150%...
  8. by   dah doh
    You need to learn to accept constructive feedback or you will not survive nursing. Constructive feedback is given so you can improve your nursing skills and practice. You should do your best to integrate it into your practice. You have yourself worked up about her feedback even though she said you were doing ok. Relax until you hear what she's going to tell you, then ask yourself, "how can I use this info to improve my nursing practice?"
  9. by   Stephalump
    The pain you feel is nothing more than growing pains. Sometimes self-esteem overreacts and rolls around on the floor as id it's dying when anyone shows anything less than approval.

    We all have our own unique story and I don't have the audacity to pretend that I know yours, but I do know it's completely normal to want to please those above you. But remember that you CANNOT always do that. You aren't a seasoned nurse. You're a student who cannot be expected to be perfect. And your preceptor's job is to point out the things she feels you need to do to improve. If she doesn't, how will you know?

    Think positively. Go in with the assumption that they want to help you and better you, and you may have a great meeting!
  10. by   mssjez
    I am a person who works very hard and when I put in that much effort, it's hard to hear what I need to improve on. But 50% of it is how the person presents it and the other 50% is that we're all human and there's always SOMETHING to improve on! Supervisors ideally should present what you do well first, followed by what you can work on. But no person is the ideal.

    So think of it as something you can work on to make you a better professional and a better nurse. There's always something we can do to better ourselves, it is not a negative quality... it's a human quality.
  11. by   pmabraham
    Good day, Candace:

    My mother would tell me on a regular basis that when you stop learning, you know you are dead. My take on that isn't just learning, but that we always need to be on the lookout for improving how we do things.

    We've all been there where we either deny or try to make excuses; but soon learn excuses take us backwards, not forwards.

    I do recommend asking anyone giving constructive critisim to be blunt and let me know where I truly stand. I.e. take away any flattery, white lies, sugar, etc. What do I really need to do different?

    Then get into asking questions such as why, how soon (aka when), et al.

    Do your best to take such constructive critisim as a form of love (tough or otherwise). Ask enough questions and drill deep so you can buy into what they are tellign you; and if you don't buy into it, be kind enough to tell them (so they are not mislead thinking you will follow their advice).

    Thank you.
  12. by   SaoirseRN
    Also, remember that clinical placements rely on subjective reports/feedback from other humans. Sometimes, while we may not be doing a "bad" job, we aren't what somebody expected.

    An example:

    When I was a student, I preferred to, in many cases, figure out the answers to my own questions myself, either by reading the chart or looking things up in books. I would usually confirm my findings with my preceptor, or if I could not figure it out I would ask. Apparently, because I did a lot of the work myself, my preceptors felt I wasn't asking enough questions. They thought I should be asking way more than I was, so that got brought up to my instructor and I was spoken to about it.

    Sometimes, you just have to listen, accept what is being said with grace, thank them, do as you are asked, and move on. School will end, and as long as you aren't causing harm, you won't have to jump through those hoops forever.

    Because we are all different, we aren't going to fit perfectly into what each person feels defines a good student.
  13. by   metal_m0nk
    Quote from Sadala
    85% and 65%? That's 150%...
    Each out of 100.

    Seems self explanatory to me...
  14. by   HouTx
    I completely agree with GrnTea's response. I (& other ancients) are more likely to have grown up with the "you want something to cry about?" parenting model. We received critical feedback on a regular basis, from an astonishing number of sources. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to run smack into this for the first time when you are older... and in a much more high-stakes situation. I have worked with many brand new, very young nurses who dissolve into tears and lose all self-confidence when this happens.

    Learning detachment is an important survival skill in any adult endeavor. This is the ability to adopt objectivity when you need it. This means deliberately pushing aside your emotional response (OMG, this patient is someone's mother and she is dying) for a logical & objective one (OK, this is v-tach, I need to shock now). It takes practice, but anyone can do it. Receiving critical feedback is one of those times - focus on the information you are receiving and deliberately step away from the emotional content. This is not a value judgement about you as a person. It is just about your performance and skill. Take the time to reflect on what is being said. Make sure you clearly understand. Ask questions - "So, if I had done X instead of Y, it would have been a more appropriate intervention?" Ask for help "I think I chose X because I am not as familiar with Y - can you recommend a way for me to improve in this area?"

    In the meantime, just bite your tongue if you find yourself making any excuses for inadequate performance. Erase "But" from your vocabulary. Take deep breaths and be very conscious of your body language and facial expressions. YOU CAN DO THIS!