For all you busy people out there, I will provide a short version and long version to my story.
I was a 4th year RN student taking the last course necessary for the degree and my instructor failed my written assignments. The school has a bit of a reputation for discriminating against male nursing students like myself.
What education/career choices are there for me that preferably utilizes a lot of my credits?
What can I do to prevent more students from being treated as unfairly as I was?
Is it feasible to attempt to sue the university?
I'll summarize this as much as possible.
I was doing my acute care focus for 4th year and was doing great. The focus was 2 courses - a theory class and the clinical. I passed the class and at my mid-term evaluation my clinical instructor marked me as meeting or surpassing all expectations. After this point I fell sick for a few weeks and was unable to successfully complete clinical, so I had to repeat it the following year.
The following year the program changed slightly by merging the two acute courses into one big one - this meant that although I already passed the theory class, I had to take it again.
Initially I was doing well in this course. Clinical was going well and I had no problem with the mid term exam in the theory class. The theory class had two case studies that needed to be done during clinical - just like last year - and I already passed it the first time (in fact I got 100% on case study 1 the previous year) so I was pretty confident when I did another one and handed it in. Afterward, I was pretty shocked to find that the instructor failed it. After getting A's and B's in every written assignment throughout university, the same calibre of work no longer merited a pass. This was an automatic fail for the course but she told me I could rewrite it. The rewrite was a huge additional burden to an already hectic 4th year workload but I did so, and was quite confident that the rewrite would pass. Once again, it failed. They claimed that the papers showed knowledge deficits - which is interesting considering that I had already passed the course. This meant that even if I passed everything else in the course, I would still fail. My only recourse was to appeal - which I did after the course was over.
I continued on with the theory course and the clinical and handed in case study #2 - which was probably the finest work I have ever submitted. It failed. So I rewrote it - that failed too. I showed these case studies to 3 other nurses, 2 of which were nursing instructors (whom I have never met) and they all agreed that they deserved a passing grade.
The issues at the university were weighing heavily on me during clinical. For the first time in my life I started seeing a counsellor. I fought through the stress and extra workload (the two case studies, plus they added other assignments for me to do) and during mid term evaluation, my clinical instructor marked me as satisfactory in every category. He marked my evaluation as satisfactory in every category for my final evaluation as well.
When I went in for my final evaluation there were supposed to be 3 other people there: my clinical instructor, my theory instructor, and my program instructor (the latter two of which have been collaborating to fail my assignments and give me negative feedback throughout the semester). This is so all 3 can provide input to decide if I pass or fail the course.
For whatever reason, my clinical instructor was not there. They claimed that they could not get a hold of him but proceeded to break school policy and evaluate me without his input anyway. The only input that was provided by my instructor was the written evaluation in which he marked me as being satisfactory in every category. Despite this, they said that there were some concerns about my clinical performance and so they failed me for clinical as well as the theory. They crossed off some of my instructor's 'satisfactory' checkmarks on my evaluation and checked the 'unsatisfactory' boxes instead. Evidently, from the comfort of their offices in the university they knew more about my clinical performance than the instructor who actually watched my performance on the floor for over 300 hours.
I mentioned all this and more when I submitted my appeal and they denied it anyway and I was failed from the nursing program.
So now I am here to ask two things:
1) Is there anything I can do to prevent something like this from happening to others? (One person told me that instructors are able to destroy students without concern since the university can drag lawsuits out for years until you give up). And is there a chance that I could be compensated for what they did?
2) What are some career choices that I can look into that utilize my credits? I passed all my 4th year classes save for that one. I have considered psychiatric nursing (mental illness is fascinating to me) but the idea of so much more schooling is daunting to me. Perhaps there are some technical fields that are in big demand. I'm wide open to suggestions.
Is there another school you could transfer to?
Last edit by bear14 on Jul 14, '13
: Reason: Spelling
Could they have found out that you were seeking counseling? This should NOT have mattered..I'm just curious about this since you (the OP) mention this in your post. Were you seeking counseling through a university resource, such as a university run clinic? I ask because though your visits should have been confidential, the chances of someone in the RN program finding out about your counseling sessions obviously would be higher if you were using a university, on-campus resource versus an off-campus one.
Also, did you always get along with the other students or instructors? Were there any conflicts the instructors found out about or witnessed? Even little ones (misunderstandings)? The ability to get along in any profession is paramount, but in nursing, it is especially important. I'm just thinking out loud here a bit, and trying to explore other reasons besides the gender issue some instructors might have wanted to get rid of you so late in the game, especially in light of the fact that you were doing very well academically in your course work.
I'm not saying being a male isn't the reason or factor for you having failed, but there could have been another reason or reasons for the dismissal that have nothing to do with your gender. I'm not in any way stating or suggesting you are lying, it's just that we can only formulate ideas on what is going on here based on what you have given us in your post, and there could be other factors which might explain what happened that even you have not considered. When something terrible like this happens, it's easy to come to a quick conclusion, and then cling to the explanation that fits this conclusion. Doing this risks clouding what's really going on. I've certainly been guilty of this in my life. I'm NOT stating you are necessarily wrong in your conclusion. I am suggesting you remain open to other explanations.
As for advice, I would contact a law firm that has experience dealing with the university Such a firm would be more familiar with the best course of action to take fighting your case, and would be better able to let you know what your chances of success are. Especially helpful would be contacting a law firm that has defended other students in similar situations. I'm not sure how large your university is, but students dropped from law and medical programs are particularly likely to seek legal recourse, since these students are most invested in finishing their degree. Either way, finding the right law firm is really important in your case. A law firm unfamiliar with your university and its inner-workings and appeal processes, etc. would, imo, be at a not insignificant disadvantage.
Last edit by norlns24 on Jul 14, '13
: Reason: grammar
Jul 14, '13
Honestly, I would at the transfer to another school, and finish up my nursing degree.
You have a right to go up the chain of command outside of the nursing department, a system should be in place for this.
I would also look into reporting the school to appropriate agencies for unethical business practices, and see if there is a record of this type of thing happening. This would include agencies that give the school the license. You will need a paper trail that shows what occurred without it you have nothing.
There is also a group of individuals that are working to change the school system. I don't remember their name, but things like this need to have a system of checks and balances that is unbiased. The individuals that are saying bad things, cannot be the same individuals that determine if what is happening is correct or incorrect. It is a conflict of interest. Only by working with the system to put in an unbiased check and balance system will student rights be ensured.
Last edit by swansonplace on Jul 14, '13
: Reason: .