Junior nursing student in trouble with clinicals

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    OK, so I'm the stressed father of a nursing student who is sinking. They have a 3.7 GPA and is doing fine with classwork, but is having difficultly with med/surg. I can't believe they grade pass/fail and the pass seems to be stringent. Her first clinicals spring of 2010 had some issues, but were overcome. Currently peds clinicials is going well, but med/surg badly. She is having issues with being fast AND organized. At the beginning of the semester she informed her professor that she had some trouble last clinical but seemed to overcome it. So the professor promised to watch her for the first 1 or 2 clinicals. Apparently there was some miscommunication because she mentioned that she saw nothing unusual the first time, but it seems grew unhappy as time went by. So after the 6th clinicial mentioned to my shocked daughter that she was failing. I wish the professor had made it clear as she became apparently unhappy that time mgmnt was considered not acceptable and they needed to develop a plan to fix it. Some comments were made, but were taken as suggestions to improve upon, not as failing. Now with only a few clinicials left, it was stated that the odds are poor. She has made some mistakes, but I feel thats why your a student. And as the father, I'm paying a sizeable amount for the education of my daughter. We already have 75K sunk into this. How to you suddenly turnaround a bad clinical situation? She tried to get job experience over the summer but with bad economy and not having a CNA because BSRN schools don't prepare them or urge them to take the exam, she could only volunteer. It appears this could get her cut from the program. I'm an Electrical Engineer, and school was tough, but not brutal like the nursing programs seem to be. A Curry college nursing student giving flu shots at work who I had a discussion with stated "they seem to look for any chance to cut you from the program and we don't know why". I understand the desire for good nurses, but not trained for speed like robots. You guys are underpaid considering the program reqs and the stress, vs SW engineers. Of course all our jobs are going offshore. Sorry if I strayed a bit, but its tough with a daughter 600 miles away sinking. So ADVICE please, and if she gets cut, how do you proceed? Our plan is to get a CNA and a job, then try to transfer to a local state school. Not sure if they like junior transfers. Thanks
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  3. 18 Comments so far...

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    "We already have 75K sunk into this."

    If she just started clinicals in Spring of this year, how have you already 'sunk' 75k?. It sounds like you are referring to a company stock that you invested in and now it's tanking.
    Google 'helicopter parent' ...it's on Wikipedia
    Seriously???
    drmorton2b likes this.
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    You are not the only parent of a nursing student who has failed. I can guarantee that if you intervene and become known at the school, it will be even more difficult for your daughter. She needs to learn to sink or swim on her own. There are nursing students who succeed or fail on their own while paying their own way through school. Perhaps she should pay her own way from here on out. It might make a world of difference.
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    As a parent myself, I can certainly identify with your situation. Maybe I can provide a bit of perspective.

    Nursing is very different from other professions - so the educational experience must be structured differently also. Clinical education is multifactorial in nature. As an educator, I can assure you that no single issue (short of deliberate violation of patient safety) leads to failure. Time management, for instance is a combination of preparedness, confidence, and critical thinking. Students must be absolutely prepared to care for their patients - able to perform physical skills and knowledgeable about all facets of the care (disease trajectory, medications, therapies, etc). They must exhibit confidence and "professionalism" rather than continuously seeking reassurance and instruction from others. Finally, they must understand the big picture and be able to continuously prioritize tasks in an ever-changing environment. Yes, that is a tall order.

    You need to understand that nursing students are working with 'live' patients - not in a laboratory. The clinical instructor has to balance the needs of the students against the rights of the patient. Mistakes expose the instructor, the staff nurses, and the host facility to lawsuits. Nurses are expected to be able to enter real world paying jobs when they graduate. Yes, standards are very high -- and as a potential patient as well as a nurse, I am OK with that and you should be also.

    Now for the hard stuff - while I admire your commitment and concern for your daughter's welfare, it may also be a negative factor. You are obviously paying for her (extremely expensive) education but how much is she having to invest??? Maybe she doesn't have enough skin in the game to motivate her to a higher level of performance? Do you always rescue her whenever she gets in a bind or do you step back, let her make her own decisions - including the consequences. It's her life and she needs to own it while you put on your game face and let her fly.
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    SuetheStudent, Your comment as a helicopter parent is rash, incorrect and rude. She had a 4.0 GPA after the freshman year and 3.7 after the sophmore year. She is a great student with a sister that has Down Syndrome which is one reason why she wants to be a nurse. Her mother was an ICU unit nurse 20 years ago. At 30K per year, this adds up. College costs have vastly outstripped inflation. If you looked and saw she is a junior, its easy to hit the 75K mark. I am paying someones salary to teach my daughter how to become a nurse. She may be slower than some(others are failing too) but I'm sure it can be learned.
    SilentfadesRPA likes this.
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    Well guys, I have a very different perspective than you do. One from an engineer. Its sounds like I made a bad impression mentioning the $. caliotter3, she will be paying us back for half the cost, so its not about her getting a free ride. I personally went to school where 66% were eliminated. HOWEVER, if you failed a course in EE, you weren't kicked out of the program. You could take the course over next semister, while you carried on. At this college at least, you are out of the program, need to reapply for the next year, and its a much bigger cost to time and money. Lets face it, its a job. I doubt any of us would show up if they didn't pay us. I'll give you guys credit, but believe they should have more mentors for clinicals. I can't believe that anyone that has a reasonable of intelligence can't master clinicals.
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    this is my first time posting but i had to respond.
    i am a student having clinical problems as well.
    i also had a solid gpa just as your daughter did.

    i am at a point now where i am not failing clinical but i am finding it very challenging
    for the same exact issues your daughter is having. i have learned that book knowledge is totally different from critical thinking skills. i think the point is not really that your daughter is failing but what does she feel she needs to fix so that she can be a safe nurse when she get's out. clinical is an exact replica of her job when she gets out of school. in my school they usually fail you out of clinical because of safety.

    i don't think this has anything to do with her getting a 'free ride', like myself she just has a longer delay in taking book knowledge and putting it together so that you can critically think.

    i don't know about this idea. if it is pretty much written in stone she is going to fail out in clinicals can she withdraw instead and perhaps find an internship, perhaps your wife has some connections.

    i agree money is important but what is the point if she gets out of school and loses her license or even more importantly her sanity because she is uncomfortable in clinical or felt pressured to rush and finish. ultimately she is probably like myself and knew she was doing poorly before the professor said anything to her.

    2nd option make an appointment with the professor and lay her cards on the table, as a jr. there are some high expectations i am not sure that will work. perhaps the professor has some ideas. she also might ask around and look for students that are a yr ahead of her to see if anyone has had any experience in her situation.

    i am sure it will all work out.
    FatherOfStudentBS likes this.
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    I am sure that her school wants to hang onto every pupil willing to pay $30k/yr, so if she is failing out of clinicals it is likely because her instructor feels that HER license is in jeopardy. Are you aware that a student operates under someone else's license? You stated that "she made some mistakes", well those mistakes must have related to clinical judgement/safety which is why she is on the chopping block.
    Book-smart does not mean you will pass clinicals. Critical thinking is not exclusively related to intelligence. You may not like the truth but there it is. Do with it what you may.
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    Quote from FatherOfStudentBS
    I can't believe that anyone that has a reasonable of intelligence can't master clinicals.
    I was in your corner, Dad, until this last remark. That's like me saying, "Anyone with half a brain can be an engineer." Wouldn't you find that a little insulting?

    Not everyone is cut out to be a nurse. Some very smart people are not good at the clinical aspects of nursing. Nursing requires "book smarts," but it also requires a lot of other things, too -- and a lot of students who do well in one aspect of nursing (e.g. classroom skills) struggle with mastering some of the other aspects (e.g. clinical skills). More mentors/instructors would be nice, but it would also increase the costs of nursing education dramatically. Most students are not willing or able to pay much more than they do now. Doubling or tripling the number of faculty would be very expensive.

    I truly hope that your daughter gets her act together and passes this clinical. If not, I hope that you can support her efforts to analyze what she did wrong so that she can make a good decision about what to do next. It's usually very difficult (if not impossible) to transfer nursing credits from one school to the other. She may be able to do that and start as a junior at a new school, but maybe not. If she starts a new school, she may need to repeat some classes -- IF -- she can get accepted. Some schools simply do not accept students who have flunked out of another school.

    Be prepared for the possibility that her best option -- assuming she still wants to be a nurse -- might be to simply wait the year and return to her current school. If that's the case, she should use the time wisely. Perhaps she could take a nursing assistant course and work in a hospital or nursing home to get more comfortable in the clinical arena -- and earn some money in the process. She might also decide to take some courses so that she can lighten her academic load when she starts up with nursing school again. Or she might choose to take some courses that will give her a 2nd major or minor when she graduates, one that would give her an alternative career path should a nursing career not work out for her.

    I am sure that this is a very stressful time for your daughter (as were my college clinicals) and it's nice to see your efforts to support her through it. Unfortunately, you may not be able to "fix" this for her -- and may have to simply support her through this challenging time in her life.

    llg, PhD, RN-BC
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    workinghard09. Thanks for your input. She was concerned and realized she needed to improve her speed. That is why she asked at the very beginning for input. When she was told she looked OK, nothing terrible she felt better. She still was trying to improve and new there were areas to work at, but not that they were below passing. I expect that certain issues like time mgmnt or organizational skill weaknesses are seen in students on a semi-regular basis and that their would be strategies to deal with it and possibly they could get more help. She spoke to her professor who stated that if she had more clinicals she thought she would be alright. But of course you can't just add them.


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