Why Do People Fail Nursing School?

  1. 0
    I found out not too long ago that I've been accepted into a second career accelerated BSN program. I've been combing through some of the threads here and have read a lot about retention rates for schools, what causes people to be dropped from programs, etc. Some of the reasons for students being dropped are obvious, as with the student nurse who was throwing hypodermics at her patient like the were darts :uhoh21: Other people indicate that its the difficulty of the courses that weeds people out.

    In your experience, what are the most common reasons for people being dropped from, or failing, their nursing programs? (In case it wasn't obvious, I'm trying to anticipate challenges that might pop up!)
  2. 37 Comments so far...

  3. 3
    As much as I hate to say it, we had instructors that would try their best to get you thrown from the program if they didn't like you. They would ride students until they were in tears or would up and quit. Of course, it has been nearly 17 years since I have been in school, but I doubt things have changed too much.


    Nurses "eat their young" in the hospital setting, wht not in the classroom?
  4. 0
    another big reason students fail or drop courses is that there is too much going on in their life for them to put the necessary concentration into school, i.e. long work hours, family issues, money problems, health issues, taking too many credit hours, poor/non-existant/non-effective study habits, lack of sleep/down time where you don't eat-sleep-talk nursing. : /
  5. 0
    With the accelerated programs people have told me that some did not fully understand how fast they would cover material. Also, some found nursing was not what they wanted.

    Congratulations on getting into a program. Which one are you going to? I just got accepted too
  6. 1
    It would be a good thing if nursing schools put more useful information into their pre-nursing orientation programs about what nursing school is REALLY like. Students would be better prepared to do well in the program if they know ahead of time how many hours they need to put into studying, practicing in lab, preparing care plans and concept maps for clinicals, traveling to the clinical sites to get patient assignments, etc every week.

    During my freshman year there was a huge auditorium full of new nursing students who were real excited to begin after hearing all these wonderful things about the program, but most of us were not prepared for what was thrown on us during the first semester. Many students I started with thought that all they would be doing in clinicals is giving shots, dressing wounds, and charting notes. They weren't thinking about the 'messy' parts of bedside nursing, and when they got into the clinical area they would freak out about things like wiping butts or cleaning a colostomy. Many of them had no idea that nurses are expected to do these things and they left voluntarily very early in the program.

    Also, we didn't know how to answer 'critical thinking' questions, and we were also led to believe that the clinical instructors would hand-hold us and teach us all the clinical skills before asking us to perform them in the hospital. No such thing, babe! They showed us only the basic stuff, and we had to spend hours studying and practicing in lab every week on our own. As for those nursing questions, Everyone did badly on the first coupla exams. Of course, after that first semester, the number of students who dropped or failed out was about 50%, and the number dropped again by about another 50% after the second nursing class. The instructors didn't seem to care. All they would say is that its up to us to buy a book about how to answer nursing questions and study the rationales until we got it down.

    Some students come in thinking it will be easy because they assume that all they have to learn is how to do basic patient care. WRONG!!! Nursing school hogs a lot more time than many new students think possible, and this is perhaps the biggest reason so many people fail or drop out.
    Last edit by Tony35NYC on Dec 1, '04
    sblivefree likes this.
  7. 0
    Quote from dolphinRN
    As much as I hate to say it, we had instructors that would try their best to get you thrown from the program if they didn't like you. They would ride students until they were in tears or would up and quit. Of course, it has been nearly 17 years since I have been in school, but I doubt things have changed too much.


    Nurses "eat their young" in the hospital setting, wht not in the classroom?

    I graduated from an LPN program 12 years ago, and from an RN program four years ago. I found the above to be the case both times.

    Also, there are some who are just in over their heads in nursing school.
  8. 0
    Congratulations on getting into a program. Which one are you going to? I just got accepted too
    Congratulations to you, too! I'm going to U of M Ann Arbor.

    Some students come in thinking it will be easy because they assume that all they have to learn is how to do basic patient care. WRONG!!! Nursing school hogs a lot more time than many new students think possible, and this is perhaps the biggest reason so many people fail or drop out.
    This makes sense. I've been working about seventy hours a week and going to school part time for the past two years, so I'm hoping that I'll be prepared for a hectic schedule. I'm almost looking forward to being able to focus on one specific task (school) when I'm in--I won't be working.

    When it comes to critical thinking questions, what would be the best prep for acclimating to these prior to the start of the program? Most of my classes thus far have been very objective-oriented, where you're given a series of facts and definitions and have to regurgitate them for exams. Critical thinking would obviously require more depth and understanding....
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    Of course there are as many reasons for failing as there are students ... and you have gotten some good responses in this thread. You have to remember that a lot of people go to college forgetting that college-level work is a "step up" from high school, requiring more self-responsibility and a higher level of thinking.

    They may also not fully appreciate that learning how to be a nurse usually requires CHANGING the way you think and behave to at least a little degree: that's what any meaningful learning and personal growth are all about. Such people expect to be able to memorize a few facts and that's all. They resist looking at information in new and different ways and/or learning how to use information in the ways necessary to make the judgments required by nursing. They cling to their old ways of thinking and reacting instead of being flexible and learning new ones. They may particularly freak out when they encounter those aspects of nursing that are more about interpersonal skills, communication, presenting yourself as a professional, etc. Then they may get very defensive and refuse to change as a personal statement of their individuality -- clinging to their old ways and not adopting new ones. This leads to conflict between them and the faculty, accusations of unfairness, etc. Yes, sometimes there is actual unfairness -- but often, those accusations come from students who have screwed up and can't admit it to themselves.

    It's a tough profession. The sciences can be tough for some people ... the math can be tough for some ... the technical skills can be tough for some ... the interpersonal skills can be tough for some ... the physical demands of being on your feet can be tough ... the emotional toll of having to avoid mistakes that might hurt people can be tough ... the emotional toll of being around people who are suffering ... etc. There is a great need to be strong to both do the work and stay sane in an environment in which people (patients and professionals) are under stress all day.

    People who go into nursing because they think it is easier than other possible majors soon find out differently and drop out -- or allow themselves to flunk out by not be willing to invest what it takes.

    Good luck,
    llg
    I<3PedsRN likes this.
  10. 2
    Quote from Pachinko
    When it comes to critical thinking questions, what would be the best prep for acclimating to these prior to the start of the program? Most of my classes thus far have been very objective-oriented, where you're given a series of facts and definitions and have to regurgitate them for exams. Critical thinking would obviously require more depth and understanding....
    Buy an NCLEX review book and look at the questions. Some questions are completely factual, either you know the information or you don't. Others require you to apply the information you know to a specific situation and choose the best answer. I like the Lippincott Review Series and the Prentice Hall Reviews and Rationales books. They are subject specific and are very helpful when studying for nursing school exams.

    Reasons people drop/flunk out of nursing school:
    1. Personal issues (illness, have baby, husband loses job, etc)
    2. Work too many hours
    3. Discover they don't like nursing
    4. Can't keep up with the massive volume of work
    5. Can't figure out how to answer nursing test questions
    6. Can't perform the clinical skills
    7. Poor attendence
    8. Financial problems
    9. Unable to deal with constant stress and anxiety
    10. Personality conflicts with instructors

    Good luck!
    blkcind and r0b0tafflicti0n like this.
  11. 0
    First term: 1 drop out -- due to family health issues...has re-entered program

    Second term (current term): 2 drop outs due to personal/family issues (I believe)

    1 person failed due to poor clinical abilities (due to, I believe, pstd, and consequent inability to be assertive in the environment)...very sad, because personally a very lovely person.

    1 person ALMOST dropped out because of family health issues--but managed to continue (she only had 2 more weeks to go).

    Thank God for our instructors, who are really wonderful, and wonderfully supportive. Our first term instructor has some "drill instructor" behaviors--but sometimes I think that is helpful--especially if the class is young and immature. But even still, many people felt/feel she is very understanding and supportive--just kind of a gruff exterior.

    NurseFirst
    Last edit by NurseFirst on Dec 1, '04


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