Students who don't belong, being pulled through LPN program (long rant)

  1. Just thought I'd vent a little about this. I always thought that nursing school was going to be a real "trial by fire". It was such a hassle to get in, between all the paperwork and testing, and the school only selecting 50 students out of 600+ applicants. We had so many lectures on attendance, appearance, academics, etc. etc. shoved down our throat at orientation, I thought I'd mistakenly joined the military.

    However, a few months down the road, on into the second quarter, it's a totally different story. 43 out of the 50 made it to the second quarter. ZERO people failed. The only people that are out are the ones that chose to quit. Now, don't get me wrong. I don't WANT to see anyone left behind, but it just doesn't sound right that 100% of the class (that didn't outright quit) passed.

    In this quarter, we're doing Pharmacology and Administration of Medication. Lots of math. Not necessarily *hard* math (the hardest part for me is apothecary conversions), but it's a lot of math. At LEAST half of the class had SERIOUS problems with such simple concepts as moving decimals and converting grams to milligrams. They can't do these VERY BASIC equations, even though they somehow managed to pass the high school-level NET entrance exam.

    Now, get this. We have a med math exam that we have to pass with 100% before we're able to give meds in clinicals. We have 5 tries at the exam before we're out of the program. How many people passed the exam on the first try? 100%! The same people who couldn't figure out that 0.01 times 10 is 0.1 were able to pass a med math exam with 100% on their first try? Give me a break!

    And that's not the worst of it. Open book and open discussion exams have become commonplace. And by "open discussion", I mean the instructor literally giving us the answers to about 25% of the exam.

    We're going to clinicals giving meds next week, and we have students who can't even do basic freaking math that are going to be drawing up injections and figuring pill dosages. I can only pray that our clinical site is going to be doing unidose so we won't be able to screw it up.

    Now, here's where it gets interesting. I'm pretty sure I know why people are being pulled through this time. We have a new Nursing Dept Coordinator. She was brought in because the last 2 coordinators were only achieving about a 15-20% course pass rate (of course, NCLEX pass rates for those classes were 100%). This reason was told to our class by the coordinator herself. So, her goal is to get over 75% pass rate.

    But now, I see exactly how she's going to get her 75% pass rate. By holding everyone's hand all the way through the program. I can only HOPE that the NCLEX will weed these people out. And then, when the NCLEX pass rate for the program drops to 20%, I wonder what the Board is going to think.

    It's getting to the point where I'm seriously considering reporting this activity to the Board. God forbid these students somehow manage to pass the NCLEX by some miracle, only to kill a patient right after they clear orientation. The only thing that's stopping me is that I know if the Board does an investigation, the school will likely lose their accreditation, which means I'll have to start all over again.

    Again, don't get me wrong. I don't want to see any particular person fail. But, not everyone was meant to be a nurse. It's as simple as that. Desire is not enough. If desire were enough, I'd be swimming in gold doubloons right now. If you can't figure out that 0.01 times 10 is 0.1, then you may need to think about another profession.
    Last edit by Murse901 on Oct 30, '05
    •  
  2. 52 Comments

  3. by   JR816
    Wow!! Tell us how you really feel.

    I am also entering round two of my studies. I just finished pharm and dosage. I am kinda disgusted by your posting. I, just like you, have worked hard, paid attention, passed the NET, and am excited to be a nurse. I look forward to utilizing each skill and promoting patient health and awareness.

    Unfortunately, I am not a math person. I understand that 0.01 x10 is 0.1. I get nervous about the dosage conversions and appropriate documentation. I am not used to writing 0.1 instead of .1. There are a bunch of things that I need to reprogram my brain for. But I haven't had a math course in eight years.

    Math is a skill to be perfected, just like everything else they are cramming into our brains. It takes times and attention. Please don't underestimate your classmates because they need a little extra guidance. Remember, they had to jump through the same hoops you did to get there. And instead of kicking them out of the program, hopefully your insrtuctors will work with them and make sure they get it.
  4. by   UM Review RN
    I understand where you're coming from Don, but having already gone to school and passed, I now have a better view of the Big Picture, and you need to know that there are plenty of ways to weed out those of you who aren't cutting it. So don't despair.

    • The clinical instructor is there to teach, and probably none of you will ever pass meds without her direct supervision.
    • The students who don't study and can't learn to think critically will not pass the NCLEX.
    • No one really cares, after YOU pass the NCLEX, which school you went to or what your grades were.
    • When you apply for a job at a hospital there IS a math test. You MUST pass with a really good grade or you won't be working there.
    You have way too much work ahead of you to be worried about what your classmates are doing and how the instructors choose to teach.

    It has been my experience that everyone gets an "easy ride" until the drop/add date, at which point, they'd better know their stuff or they won't make it. But the school will still be that much richer for having tried, since at that point, the tuition has been paid in full and there are no refunds.

    Some schools make that clever little move such a practice that I couldn't, in good conscience, refer a student there.

    Keep us updated, I'm interested in how this all plays out.
  5. by   Murse901
    Quote from JR816
    Wow!! Tell us how you really feel.

    I am also entering round two of my studies. I just finished pharm and dosage. I am kinda disgusted by your posting.
    I think you're taking my post a little too personal. I'm not talking about people who have a little difficulty at math. I'm not exactly a genius myself. I'm talking about people who can't look at 1/2 and see that it's 50% without doing the long division. People who can't understand that if one grain is 60 milligrams, one quarter grain is 15 milligrams. They have to set up a ratio and proportion to figure this out.

    And my problem isn't so much that they're terrible at math as they're dragging down the people that actually get it, and we all end up having an open discussion exam because the students are too lazy to form an after-class study group, and the instructor is too sympathetic of their inability to learn.

    We spent literally three full class days (18 hours) on moving decimals. Nothing more. 0.01 times 10 is 0.1. 10 divided by 100 is 0.1. After three days, some of the class still didn't get it, and we *had* to move on at that point.

    The math thing isn't even my main point. It's not the students' fault that they're being kept in a program they have no business being in. The Nursing Coordinator is doing these students no favors by keeping them in the program. Trust me. Once they get to state boards, there will be no open discussion or open book, and they'll wonder why they can't get their license.
    Quote from Angie O'Plasty, RN
    You have way too much work ahead of you to be worried about what your classmates are doing and how the instructors choose to teach.
    I think you're right, except for the fact that I feel like I'm getting a little ripped off. In my example above, with the 3 days of moving decimals nonsense, I spent most of that time sleeping in my truck or reading ahead. If we didn't have such a strict attendance policy, I would have just stayed home.
  6. by   traumaRUs
    Don - have you expressed your concerns to your instructors? That might be a good starting point. I was very fortunate in school that I did very well. However, like everything in life, you get what you give. So...I tried to help those students that had problems understanding concepts. I'll be the first to admit, math isn't my strongpoint. However, once I figured it out, it seemed reasonable for me to help my classmates too. Since you have a good knowledge of the subject, would that work? Good luck.
  7. by   JR816
    I do agree with you. I don't care how I learn it, but my big thing is how to retain it. I am in a two year RN program and they told us to buy the dosage calc book and teach it to ourselves. We just had the test last week. I was very stressed. In any case, every institution has different teaching method's. I sometimes disagree with mine as well. We have two-three instructors per day. They actually disagree on test answers and argue about it in front of us. I don't really care which teacher is right or wrong. I want to be tested as if the questions were NCLEX. And I want to know how to get the answer.
  8. by   ortess1971
    I agree with your posting. Unfortunately, I think this society tends to feel that just because you want something, it should happen for you. There is nothing wrong with a nursing program having standards. This is a profession where if you don't know what you are doing, you can kill someone. Not to sound snotty, but decimals, fractions and other concepts covered in dosage classes are 5th grade math. My program does have a few of those students you are referring to but luckily, my school manages to weed them out usually by the end of the first year. I think they should go back to having an extrance exam to determine who gets off the waiting list and into clinicals but I can't see that happening-the school would lose too much money. I don't think you have to be an A student to be a good nurse but being able to do basic math, write clearly and have reading comprehension should be requirements.
  9. by   JR816
    Actually, I think most schools have an entrance exam. I know my program uses the NET exam. It's english and math comprehension, and basic personality skills. It's a 4 hour exam and you have to meet the school grading requirements to even apply to the program.

    Anyone else take an entrance exam....

    Jen F
  10. by   student4ever
    Quote from JR816
    Actually, I think most schools have an entrance exam. I know my program uses the NET exam. It's english and math comprehension, and basic personality skills. It's a 4 hour exam and you have to meet the school grading requirements to even apply to the program.

    Anyone else take an entrance exam....

    Jen F
    Oh yes, I most definetly took the NET test. Sucked, didn't it????
  11. by   JR816
    I had a hard time with it because the NET study guide was on back order. I was instructed to use the copy in the library. So I went to the library first thing the morning of the test and it was in use. I sat and read magazine's while someone else read it. I just wanted to rip the book in two!!!! So, I only got the book for 30 minutes. UUGGH!!! Somehow, I passed anyway and now I'm finishing my first semester!!!!!!
  12. by   Daytonite
    Hi, DonaldJ!

    You sound so angry, irritated and impatient. I wonder if there is any patience there to nurse a patient? Having been in nursing for 30 years I can tell you that there are plenty of ways to weed people out of nursing and the classroom isn't the only way. There is a big difference between book learning and learning on the job. Some people have to do hands on work with medications and patients before the math part of it sinks in. This is just one of the reasons nursing students have to do clinicals. No one is going to let nursing students run amuk. I can tell you that very little math is left up to the nurses these days as almost everything is unit dose packaged, even in the nursing homes. Every student is going to have an instructor at their side for every medication they give. As a serious student I never minded the people that slowed the class down a little. Why? Because it is another opportunity for my brain to hear the material I'm supposed to learn. Repitition is what locks the learning in place. If I happen to get an "A" and others are still struggling to get a "C", what business of mine is it? There are no rules that say I can't read ahead in my textbooks, or even to pick up supplemental texts and nursing journals to read more in depth about a subject. That cements the learning in even better. The fact is that as long as a school of nursing sticks to it's cirriculum filed with the BON and the teaching methods it uses are not out of the ordinary, the BON will have nothing to say about your school. It is going to do no good whatsoever to make a complaint to the BON. Why not just study, study, study and get labeled as the "brain" of the class instead?
  13. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    If someone is having problems with basic math, then they should probably take a refresher class for this, instead of the Pharm instructor having to do this.

    But it certainly does not mean that the people who are having difficulty need to find another profession, and that's pretty unfair to say.

    I suck at math, always have, yet drug calcs i excel in. I took it upon myself to study before the pharm class began to refresh myself on the basics
    Last edit by Marie_LPN, RN on Nov 1, '05
  14. by   Tweety
    It seems like they could do a little better at screening the people they admit to this program. Having such a dismal failure rate and trying to raise it to 75% is a good goal, but to let people slide through is not the way to do it.

    Since this is so irritating to you, I advise you to just drop it. Let it go. Let the instructors worry about who does what. No need for you to write anymore stories in your head about how incompetent some people in your class are (they are stories because you're writing them, and do you really know what's going on in their heads, their lives and their interactions with the insturctors?).

    Anyway, let it go, be the very best that you can be.

close