Is this typical of a nursing school? Arbitrary failings, and discrimination

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    In my school a fairly large number of students, including me, have been failed in our clinical courses by arbitrary decisions made by instructors. By "arbitrary decisions" I mean that the instructors are given unrestricted power to fail students without the use of predetermined standards.

    In addition, these decisions seem to affect males disproportionately. This is just based on my observations, not statistics, but males appear to make up 10-20% of the students at the school while more than 90% of those failed in these arbitrary decisions are men.

    I'm pretty sure gender discrimination is at work here, particularly considering that this school decides which students to admit purely based on academic standards (meaning that the disproportionate number of men being failed cannot be explained away by suggesting that men are simply weaker than women, academically speaking.) All students at this school have about a 4.0 GPA at the start of the program.

    In my own experience, the instructor who failed me was very unprofessional, rude, and nasty towards me. This behavior started literally on day one, which I think disproves any possible claim that her ill will towards me was based on anything other than some sort of prejudice. She proceeded to seek out opportunities to misrepresent events in order to make me look bad, presumably so she could build a case against me to fail me.

    As an example, on the paperwork with which she officially failed me in the course she vaguely stated that she had a conversation with the RN I was working with that led her to the conclusion that I "lacked initiative." What is interesting is that she made that same accusation to me in person moments after the conversation in question (which I estimate lasted about 15 seconds.) When she made the accusation to me in person, I asked her to clarify what exactly she was basing this assumption on, and she stated that the conclusion that I "lacked initiative" was based on the fact that it had come up in this conversation with the RN that a procedure had been done on my patient and that the RN had done the procedure instead of me.

    I only had one RN that I was working with that day, I only had one patient that day, and my patient only had one procedure. At the time of that procedure, the RN asked the patient, "Would you rather have a female [the RN] perform this procedure instead of a male [me]?" And the patient said, "Sure. I guess I'd prefer a female." So this was an example of explicit gender discrimination that was actually cited as a reason for my instructor failing me.

    I find the arbitrary nature of these decisions strange. These decisions are made against people who have invested years of their time and thousands of dollars of their money and against people who have succeeded at every step of the way in their educational career, and it is odd to me that all of their hard work can be thrown away purely based upon what appears to be an individual's personal dislike of them.

    Can anyone relate to these kinds of experiences? Is this typical of nursing schools?
    Last edit by Capp on Feb 13
    Joe V likes this.
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    You can't call the patient having a preference for a female nurse gender discrimination that caused you to fail. Usually with stories like yours there is a lot more to the story which makes it impossible to judge what really happened.Many students feel that they are being persecuted when in reality there is a valid reason for what happened.

    Our instructors also were able to pass or fail us as they saw fit.
    psu_213, Caribbean Character, chare, and 4 others like this.
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    It is true that it is impossible to know all the details from a short post like this.

    I do, however, disagree with your suggestion that it would be appropriate for an instructor to fail a student based on a procedure that the student was not able to do due to discrimination or any other reason.

    I also am skeptical about your insinuation that I deserved to be failed based on some undisclosed detail of my situation. It is very reasonable to assume that there are additional details to a situation that are not covered in a brief forum post, but it is interesting to me that you seem to be assuming that in my case these details completely justify the action taken against me.
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    You'll need more than a patient preferring a female to be able to say discrimination, love. Patients have that right.

    I do believe there is more to this as well. I understand you are upset. Getting a bad grade is frustrating, no matter what the reason. Clinical grades are entirely subjective in a lot of programs. They rate you based on your performance. How do you assign an objective number to demeanor? To compassion? To conscientiousness? To attention to detail, when there isn't a set number of events that will occur on any given day? It's not possible. You will win some, you will lose some. There will be times when you disagree with the feedback down to your core. But you will learn from it nonetheless, and you will have to come to terms with the fact that having an instructor is like having a boss: you don't get to pick one you get along with well. Sometimes personality DOES come into play. I can tell you I know for a fact I would have had a better grade my second semester in med/surg if I had not had a particular instructor. But you get what you get, and you suck it up, take what you can from it, and move on. The good news here is you get to walk away from this person without your employment being jeopardized.

    Ask what you can do better. Really ask. And listen. Don't take it personally. Adjust, and move on.
    psu_213, LadyFree28, SoldierNurse22, and 1 other like this.
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    Thanks for the reply, ixchel.

    I think you may have misunderstood my point in bringing up that procedure. My point was not that the patient had discriminated against me or that patients "don't have that right." I don't really care if a patient prefers a female. I've always felt that patients can basically do whatever they want. My point is that my instructor stated my failure to do that procedure as a reason for failing me in the class. I find it odd that the distinction is lost on you. I'm not saying the patient doesn't have that right. I'm saying that the instructor doesn't have the right to use that against me.

    If anything, I'm the one saying that the patient "has the right." My instructor's failure of me implies that I made a mistake by granting the patient that right. My instructor, if anything, is saying that I should have ignored the patient's wish and demanded that I take over the procedure.
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    Quote from Capp
    It is true that it is impossible to know all the details from a short post like this.

    I do, however, disagree with your suggestion that it would be appropriate for an instructor to fail a student based on a procedure that the student was not able to do due to discrimination or any other reason.

    I also am skeptical about your insinuation that I deserved to be failed based on some undisclosed detail of my situation. It is very reasonable to assume that there are additional details to a situation that are not covered in a brief forum post, but it is interesting to me that you seem to be assuming that in my case these details completely justify the action taken against me.
    I wasn't meaning it personally, just generally. It is impossible for anyone to comment on whether something was justified because we weren't there.

    It's not discrimination if a patient chooses to have a female nurse instead of a male one.

    Instructors use their own judgement in clinicals.Ixchel is right.You can't just pick to deal with people that you get along with personally. When you start working you will run into Charge Nurses and managers that you may not feel warm and fuzzy towards either. You will have to learn to deal with them just the same as you do your instructors.
    psu_213 likes this.
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    My school was the same way. I know there are some wonderful nursing teachers out there, but at least a lot of the ones at my school were nothing short of hateful. I saw the same sort of thing you're describing happen to several of my classmates, although luckily I escaped unscathed myself. I'm sorry this happened to you. While I agree with some of the other posters that a lot of times this sort of thing happens to students who have truly done something wrong and are just in denial or are too immature to accept responsibility, I have also seen first hand what you're talking about, OP. One of our clinical instructors was actually just coming back fom 2 semesters of "time off" bec previously she had been failing too many students in peds clinicals. Incidentally, in her first semester back, not a single student failed...
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    I will say though we had only 1 male in my cohort and he could do no wrong in any teacher's eyes. Gender worship, rather than discrimination.
    hermione77 likes this.
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    Quote from loriangel14
    I wasn't meaning it personally, just generally. It is impossible for anyone to comment on whether something was justified because we weren't there.

    It's not discrimination if a patient chooses to have a female nurse instead of a male one.

    Instructors use their own judgement in clinicals.Ixchel is right.You can't just pick to deal with people that you get along with personally. When you start working you will run into Charge Nurses and managers that you may no feel warm and fuzzy towards either. You will have to learn to deal with them just the same as you do your instructors.
    I wasn't asking anyone to comment on whether or not my situation was justified. That is why I focused on the general tendencies of my school instead of focusing on my particular case.

    I'm not saying that there is a problem with a patient choosing a female rather than a male. Technically, that is discrimination, but I will not say that it is inappropriate or that a patient should not have the right. I personally have no problem with patients having preferences on gender. Regardless of whether that is a problem, which I'm not saying it is, I'm not talking about the patient. I'm talking about the instructor.

    But I'm pretty sure that an instructor failing a student because of a procedure that the student was not allowed to do because of the student's gender is pretty inappropriate. I wonder if that suggestion would seem so ridiculous if it was a female being kicked out of medical school.
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    I wouldn't assume that they kicked you out just because you are male. Was it just that one incident that the teacher had a problem with? I have seen people get ousted from nursing school yes, but it was over more than one incident and it was viewed as being justified.Do you have proof it was because you are male? Failing students is not arbitrary or discriminatory in my experience.

    Did you have any previous issues with this instructor or was this the very first time she had a problem with your performance in clinical?


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