Why are nursing instructors so intimidating? - page 5

by beeenieweeenie, RN

7,870 Views | 50 Comments

Why do nursing instructors feel the need to be so intimidating and humiliating? I am really struggling with this in my nursing class. Is there a good reason for this that I am just not getting yet? I was in a BSN program... Read More


  1. 1
    I've been lucky so far with instructors that have ranged to tolerable to wonderful. I did notice that one of my clincial instructors seemed to be unpredictible on how she'd react to my questions, depending on her mood. After 5 clinical days, I started to realize that I may not have been listening to BP sounds correctly, I was becoming aware that sometimes I was getting extra sounds. Well, she made me feel so bad by going on about not coming to her about it sooner, that I've been taking BP's for weeks now, what have I been doing all this time, etc. After that, I was very reluctant to come to her with any more questions, just in case it was something I should have known already and somehow missed along the way. This is the problem with an intimidating instructor: if students don't feel safe to ask questions, lots of important details may be missed.

    Re: Jekyl and Hyde, I had a cooperating teacher like that when I was student teaching (my 1st degree is in elementary education). She was nice as pie for a while, then she started to flip out terribly when I made mistakes. She'd tell me I was wonderful, and she was giving me terrific evaluations, other days, I was in deep doo doo. I never knew what I was going to get when I went in each day. Then after one particular blunder I made (we had a substitute teacher one day and she made some minor mistakes I may or may not have been able to prevent) she spent the morning screaming at me, then called my supervisor and badmouthed me terribly. Then, during our final meeting with the three of us, my supervisor was about to give me a B, and this co-op teacher "saved" the day by raving about me again. Once again I was wonderful in her eyes and she pushed hard for an A, which I ended up getting. I had such a complex about my abilities that it took me several years to get the nerve up to get a teaching job. In later years I realized that this lady had something wrong with her, that it was not my fault and I didn't deserve to be treated the way I did as a student teacher. She was either bipolar, had BPD, or plain old nuts. It's a very uncomfortable thing to be at the mercy of somebody like that. Fortunately, the time will pass. Just don't allow that person to pass the "blame" for their behavior on to you, at least, don't believe it, as I did.
    chevyv likes this.
  2. 0
    I know it seems hard now, but I had two instructors like that... it was awful, but I have to say that I learned the most from them. You will get through it.
  3. 0
    You know, guys.. As a CNA who has worked in teaching hospitals, I have seen
    first hand some of these mean instructors send a student or two out crying in thier clinicals.

    In one way, I can kind of see the need to be tough because I have worked
    under my share of nurses who completely suck. I also can understand the need to be calm under adverse conditions and attitudes. Even as a hospital CNA, I
    have had to deal with my share of crazy, demeaning patients (and thier families) and even staff.

    However, sometimes I wonder if some of this stuff isn't a bit over the top.
    In other AA programs or certificate programs in college like MA, EMT/ paramedic, phlebotomy, surg tech, or even x-ray tech I am not hearing
    insane horror stories.

    What is it with those battleaxes? Do they not like people so they escape
    to academia so they don't have to do nursing and get to be b!chy? Are they
    like that because the nursing ADN/ LPN cert is one of the few programs at a
    CC that actually gauratee a job even if you suck? Or maybe it is all just nothing
    and those students needed to be weeded.


    It has been the one reason I have put off going LPN for now..
    the stories of psycho instructors ready to kick you out of nursing
    schools and stick you with a school bill. That, plus starting out LPNs
    in some places except LTC make only just a little bit more than I do as
    an agency CNA/ MHT in my area. (Although as they get experienced,
    I know many that have doubled my CNA salary)

    LPN school may be attempted next year for me.. but the stories give me
    a chill down my spine.

    Good reads.
  4. 1
    i really believe it is not the instructors job to cull out or weed out "who they think can't make it", it is not to be their decision....everyone that goes into the nursing field will have different forte's :not everyone will be in e.r, or med surg, or l&d, some will work psyche, or hospice...so how can nursing instructors think they are "god", crunching someones dreams,....that is "old school" thinking. it really doesn't matter if you have straight a's and can walk on your hands with a syringe up your "you know what, if you can't pass the nclex" that is what determines if you are going to be a nurse. some people are not going to be that good at calculating a "tpn", but if they are in e.r, why do they need to?.....i feel that instructors that scream and belittle people have been in that job too long and need to take a hike. and i would say that about anyone, whether they served ice cream for a living or were an astronaut. at my school we have so much paperwork that we never get to read the book!, no way will they even accept concept mapping. i really hope some of these nursing instructors just retire, unless they really want and love to teach the art of nursing....why are they culling out when, and cutting jobs for the usa citizens, but watch someone else come in from another country and get a $10,000 sign on, while the rest of us wait till the "old nursing instructors" think that your "care-plan" fits their nursing/english 101, because all of them have different ways they want it done. i say, get these nurses trained, make them confident and make them truly someone who wants to give the finest care and keep on learning to keep their knowledge growing to make this countries hospitals some of the finest...i know many other countries are progressing beyond us because of these, old attitudes of teaching in this country...well at least at my school!!......"ten points off because of this and ten points off because of this"....i pay for my education and expect to be treated as a "person"...:typing:redpinkhe
    Terika9 likes this.
  5. 0
    My first clinical instructor was a nightmare. I think she personally did not like me, she never complimented me even though she would for the other students and everyday she had something negative to say to me. I will admit that I made a few mistakes but nothing major and I always owned up to them. I strive to do my best and i already have confidence issues. At first I thought maybe she is just trying to make me tougher, build up my confidence but it was when she laughed in my face and told the entire class about a simple mistake that I made that she shared the blame that I realized she just didn't like me. She told me my careplans were horrible when they were just the same or better detailed than her favorite student's. My assessments were not up to par but she would boast on another student's who forgot to auscultate heart sounds!!!!! I made it through the semester feeling more confused and broken than when I started. I did confront her once and she apologized and agreed that the way she was treating me was inappropriate but the next day was the same as usual. I still don't understand what I did to her. We lost 12 out of 30 people in our first semester and I was one of the students with the highest grades so I still don't know what exactly she wanted from me. Looking forward to next semester b/c she will not be there. I am hoping to get a better instructor!!!!
  6. 0
    Heh, a couple of years later...

    I'm an RN now. I went through and got my ADN, and am now actually in a BSN completion program. I have more of an insight now on the whole matter of "mean instructors". It's my humble opinion that everyone is right on the topic; some are harsh because they can be, some are harsh because they want you to be strong and know your stuff, some have seen enough half-butt effort and attitude of entitlement that they want to nip it in the bud because as we've seen in another thread, the attitude in some nursing students these days is that of "I'm entitled to everything, don't you dare correct/discipline me, I can get away with murder and play whatever card I have to and get away with it or you, the institution will have a lawsuit on your hands." I've heard of and seen some nurses that I wonder how on earth they passed NCLEX- some who took 3+ tries, some who passed it lickety split and screw up left and right and behave like a childish teenager on the unit.

    Sure that might work in school but once you're under your license it's you solo, baby. In nursing school, if I recall correctly, you're operating under your instructors license. You screw up- it's on them. Nursing is one of the least respected professions in the medical field right now. We're striving for more autonomy, and having more autonomy taken away from us as little jobs pop up here and there that are so specialized: TMA's dispense meds, CNA's can start IV's and in some places even insert foley's, it gets more and more watered down.

    So, there are some instructors who are intimidating for your own good, they want you to understand that nursing isn't by any means an easy job. You need to think critically and know your stuff because there's not going to be an instructor sitting over your shoulder once you're free, and from what I've seen as an RN- MD's sometimes need the RN to think for them, sometimes we're telling THEM what to do as much as visa versa. And you'll know the nurses who were only trying to break you in and not on an ego trip because by the time your program is over they will interact with you as colleague, not as subordinate. If they still have a superiority complex, well, then they're the arrogant type. Don't waste your time.
  7. 0
    I would hope that the instructors I get are hard on my for a good reason! I'm not confrontational at all and I hate to be singled out.
  8. 0
    Quote from beeenieweeenie, RN
    Why do nursing instructors feel the need to be so intimidating and humiliating? I am really struggling with this in my nursing class. Is there a good reason for this that I am just not getting yet?

    I was in a BSN program prior to LPN school, and those instructors were the same way. So I hoped that maybe it was just RN instructors that were that way, and maybe LPN instructors would be different. WRONG!

    My instructors have pushed students to the point of tears, yell at students right in front of the nurses station, not to mention in front of classmates. Seriously these women will question you until they find something that you don't know the answer to and pounce on you like a freakin pit bull and make you feel like a total idiot for not knowing what your patient's RBC count was ten years ago.

    I mean really, we are STUDENTS! Why does it have to be this way? I just don't get it.

    This attitude from my instructors has really ruined my clinical experience, and makes me dread every single clinical day.

    I have serious doubts about returning to school to get my RN, and am seriously thinking about going into another field entirely. I just can't deal with such a negative learning environment.
    Intimidation and control are not a part of good education. I learn better with someone who is willing to teach, not discipline. We all make mistakes and we are human. I fear my last instructor when I see her teaching others as a nurse on the floor. Barking is for dogs. Communication is for humans. I don't want to make mistakes, I also don't want to hurt anyone's license. I worked hard for mine. They protect their license for a reason, but they don't have to be so mean. This is healthcare like, being concerned for others holistic being. We are nurses, we hold the future so don't do onto others like they did to you.
  9. 0
    Reflecting back on my clinical experience I was fortunate. Most of my instructors were wonderful. I had a couple that were intimidating, but overall they were focused on teaching and wanted us to get the most out of our learning experience. Some of my friends had instructors that would eat you for breakfast, and Im not sure I would be sitting here if I had gotten one of those.
  10. 0
    I wouldn't worry too much about it. First of all... It's their job to hype up the program and "weed out the weak" or whatever. They're just getting you ready - psychologically for what's to come. Have you ever noticed that any nurse you talk to tells you that their program was the worst, most brutal, program.. no matter where it was? Yes, they are responsible for lives, but unfortunately... any and i mean ANY time there is a situation or profession that involves human beings, mistakes can be made. This is because noone is perfect, no matter how hard we try or how prepared we might be. We can get pretty damn close to perfection, but we won't ever BE perfection... not in this lifetime anyway. That being said... In my estimation, YES nurses DO have a very vital and important role in regards to how the quality of someone elses life depends on how well they do their jobs., and there is probably good reason for their no-nonsense, borderline mean attitudes. But remember this - Nursing and this type of work comes and flows from an undercurrent of genuine caring and a real yearning to give quality of life. I know this sounds cheesy but if you always keep that in mind, and approach every potential hardship and obstacle with that attitude, of "i'm going to go into this always concsious of that understanding, that i am an honest person, who wants to do my best to give good quality of life" then i've always found everything works out just fine.

    good luck.


Top