I have been teaching for three years now. I love my job. From the time I was in my ADN program, I knew this is what I wanted to do. I attribute this to a couple of the instructors I had. They weren't' all sugary sweet and warm and fuzzy. They did their jobs, they criticized my careplans, they failed me when i needed to (in skills testing), they told it like it was and most of all- they made me think! I was only 18 when I started and a very sensitive 'little girl', and none of them ever made me cry. I was not a mature 18 yr old by any means, but back then I was the class minority, with most of the class being in their late 20's-early 30's (and then some, of course). But I knew, if I failed, it was my fault. I was not an a student, not even a b student, but i passed. I didn't blame any instructors for failing a test... I blamed myself.
So now, here I am on the other side of the fence. I love what I do, and I truly enjoy my approach of making the students think. From what I gather (and I may be way off base), I am liked by my students. Sure I have my moments, both in theory and clinical, where i get cranky. I have my quirks, and by now, my students know them (certain things I expect from them) but I am the first to show my humble side. Lately, i am just feeling drained by the negativity, by the defensiveness that a good number of students display toward us (not me per se, but us, in general). I hear students talking about my colleagues who are 'out to get them' and 'don't like me' because they are failing', and how I am "trying to trick them" with my questions. I think long and hard about the questions I use for exams, and look at as many resources possible. But being that I lecture 4th semester students, my questions are not easy. I use a lot of analysis, prioritization and delegation questions (just like they will see 2 months from now on NCLEX).
And to be honest, when I log on here, it is 100x magnified. I like coming here to try to get into the minds of students, to see what they are feeling, and what can help me to be a better professor. But there is so much negativity. Does anyone ever fail because they did something wrong? Or is it always the instructors fault? Why is it that failure automatically means a) we don't like them, b) we are out to get them, and c) we don't care?
I just started this part of my career, and am a young person. I don't plan on retiring any time soon. I just wonder if I will ever get used to this. I don't take it personally, but apparently many students do. I know what these students have one their plate, I've been there and done that. I was in grad school during one of the most difficult times in my life. I had financial, family, marital and work issues. But if I didn't do my work in a satidfactory fashion, I would have failed. I needed to do what I had to do to pass, or take a leave of absence. We all have busy lives, and it's not always the instructors fault if you don't pass.
I read the 'negativity' thread in the students forum and it made me think about it even more. I get that it is a response to the stress that they are facing. but the thing is, it never goes away for us. Because every year, it is a new group of students, with the same issues. We will always be dealing with stressed out students.
Any thoughts here?
I can imagine a lot depends on the student population you are teaching as well as the overall program you are part of. Certain student populations seem unwilling to take personal responsibility. And some nursing programs have a general culture that doesn't respect the students' abilities and feedback.
Personally, I was disappointed that most classes had NCLEX-style questions. While that strategy may have helped me ultimately pass the boards, such questions didn't help me LEARN what I needed as a PRACTICING nurse. What I learned best in school was how to do well on NCLEX-style tests... and write care plans. And personally, I don't think either are the best way to teach nursing. So when I did poorly on these tasks, I'd get very frustrated because they didn't seem to reflect my future potential as a nurse. And when I did well on such tasks, I was still frustrated because doing well also didn't reflect my future potential either... but at least it didn't mar my GPA and create seemingly unnecessary roadblocks.
I did have instructors who seemed to focus in on nit-picky critiques of different students at different times that, again, didn't really seem to merit the level of reprimand relative to other potential problem areas we as students faced.
I only had a few instructors who really seemed to "tell it like it is" in regard to "real world" nursing practice and to focus on skills and knowledge that would improve our practice and not just prepare us for the NCLEX and/or meet NLN content requirements.
Also, what we covered in class was often very different from how things actually worked on the floor. So oftentimes, what the clinical instructor or nurse preceptor said would run counter to what we'd studied or just weren't clear to us, and having been encouraged to really understand the rationale for all that we do, what else were we to do but ask questions when things didn't make sense? Yet instructors and preceptors would often seem annoyed and would take questions as challenges to their authority and experience and want us to accept their word without question.
So, you might do well to step back and see if any of the complaints have any basis.
Still, I imagine much student whining is just that, especially if they are younger students without much varied life experience.
On a side note:
I personally think nursing education is rather in turmoil at this time and instructors end up taking the brunt of it from students... on the other end, hospital nursing staff and new grad preceptors take the brunt of it as they orient new grads. If any educators out there knows how I could get more in touch with "the powers that be" of nursing education, I'd be very interested to find out more from the front on nursing education issues.
Last edit by jjjoy on Apr 5, '08