'Borderline' students? - page 5

Ok, this is a vent. :( In school, we have to participate in a survey about predicted college success vs home support systems, class load, work hours, etc. This is to receive a grant, and those... Read More

  1. by   obeyacts2
    I think the reason students struggle is the way the programs are structured. At our school, you take all the prereqs first, naturally, then the clinical/lecture combo. I have discovered that I have a tough time with classes that are straight dry theory with no practical component. When I took anatomy (anatomy and phys are taught separately) I had a teacher who basically lectured and expected us to regurgitate the text for exams. No practical real life applications were brought up as examples. The reason, our teacher was not a nurse and couldnt have answered anyway. I remember the first question I asked in a class setting. She was lecturing regarding the structure of skin and said something to the effect that "all races skin is structurally identical, the only difference is the amount of melanin" I raised my hand and made this observation " If this is so, why is it (from my 12 yrs of CNA work) that I almost never see decubs on black of very dark hispanic pts, but mainly on the fair skinned patients? She gulped hard and said "I dont know, but if you find out the answer, let me know" I learned quickly dont ask too many questions. So, what I do now is ask around to see which teachers teach a more concrete handon example type teaching. I did great in Microbiology, as our teacher was a former male nurse with a PHD in biology. He lectured, gave practical examples from hospital or case stuudies, then we went to the lab and did hands on stuff. His final exam was 50% case studies where we had to interpret sx, dx based on info given. I say this to make my point, that it isn't necessary an indication of the academic capability of the student or the aptitude for nursing if the student get A's. Some of the people I see being admitted are going to be in deep%^% when they get to clinicals because they are great test takers, but haven't a clue as to thinking skills. BTW my high school SATs were 620 verbal, 500 math.

  2. by   mark_LD_RN
    i personally do not believe we should lower the standards so more can get in and/or pass. I would not want a borderline student or nurse caring for me or my family members. I know there is always going to be the arguement that someone knew a student that struggled and they turned out to be good at bedside care. well i personally think nursing in todays world requires more than just being good at the bedside. it requires knowledge and skill.JMHO
  3. by   sjoe
    Kim writes: "Our school doesn't round grades. Do you know what the difference between a 74.95 (failing) and a 75 (passing) is? One question on one test. "

    Wrong! It is ALL the incorrect answers, not just the one that triggers the passing limit. Arguments such as yours can be used to lower ANY standards that might be set, so that ultimately if the person spelled their name mostly correctly at the top, he/she would pass.

    Having standards requires defining limits, and to "fuzz up" the limits is to lower the standards, by definition.
    Last edit by sjoe on Apr 4, '03
  4. by   Q.
    Likewise, I don't see how we can demand respect, speak of how difficult our training is, but at the same time, demand lowering standards and rouding up grades to pass. You can't have it both ways.
  5. by   SmilingBluEyes
    I am sorry but I think it needs to be case-by-case. Some people freeze up when testing and still would make AWESOME nurses...my school made no exceptions and a lot of DAMN fine "would-be" nurses did not make it. (our attrition rate was greater than 50% in the late 90s). Then there were some who were geniuses by all didactic standards who scared the shyte outa me and I would not want touching a live human being.

    I am lucky, I test brilliantly, graduated with a 4.0, and never had a problem, but I saw some who could barely pass tests who ran circles around me in clinical-----I believe people who are earnest and hard-working and willing to go the extra mile to become a nurse SHOULD be given a chance. And I used to have study groups with these people to help them bring up their grades cause I believed THAT strongly they SHOULD become nurses. Just my opinion on this.
    Last edit by SmilingBluEyes on Apr 4, '03
  6. by   rebel_red

    We homeschool. The main impetus behind this decision was simple, the lowering of educational standards in our country. Please don't take this as a diatribe against teachers. I feel as parents we have failed to maintain and advance our educational system.

    I often wonder when teachers find the time to teach. Right now they have assumed so many parental responsibilities: i.e. drug awareness education, socialization skills, empathy training, sex education (actually I'm kinda ok with that, not really looking forward to having that convo with my son! jk :-) ) I looked at my son's school day subtracted the time spent on these subjects and the other little bits and pieces...(getting everyone settled in, addressing discipline issues, doing what I see as "in-services" for children etc.) and realized he received, at the most 3.5 hours of actual education a day. At home we begin our school day at 9am, have a half hour for lunch a half hour for exercise, and conclude at 3pm. He receives a solid 5 hours a day. And as the only student, I know when he doesn't know! (poor kiddo no one to hide behind!) Mean mommy that I am he also is assigned homework and special projects. And of course we take field trips.
    He is in 5th grade this year and at the end of last year (as a fourth grader) He tested out at an 11th grade level on the CTBS Terra Nova. (The standardized test utilized by the state of NJ) For a lark a gave him a copy of the GED to pass and he did with a 90% average. Okay I'll stop bragging and get back to my original point. (Oh yes he can also analyze and extrapolate not just regurgitate.)

    Point being most of his little buddies can barely read at grade level, have difficulty counting out correct change, and lack any kind of academic confidence. I attribute this to parental negligence. Teachers can only do so much with the time granted them. Parents often fight them each step of the way (i.e anything more than one hour of homework has been deemed "excessive " especially when it interferes with sports programs.)

    Currently NJ (where we reside) is considering lowering the passing standards. What will happen when these children come of age? As many have you have pointed out they are ill prepared for high school and college. What happens when theyattempt to enter the work force? Minimum wage is not a viable way to support oneself, let alone a family.

    I did try to work within the system. However no one else shared my perception. I realize homeschooling isn't for everyone. I am blessed to have a mother who shares these responsibilities with me.

    Just seems to me what is happening in nursing schools reflects the overall, now inherent, issues in our educational system. IMHO we need standards. They enable us to set goals, promote good study/work habits, encourage self responsibility, increase earned self respect, provide a sense of accomplishment through achievement and finally assist us in maintaining our part of the social contract (i.e. living as a mature member of our community).

    Ok, thanks for letting me rant on and on and on.........
    getting off of my soapbox now......
  7. by   suzielee
    Hmm- I know a student who got perfect on a couple of her exams and scored 90s on all the others. In pregrad she couldnt dispense meds to more than 2 patients and wound up double dosing a patient on digitalis! Is this who you want taking care of you or your loved ones? The scary thing is that they puther in emerg for the last half of her pregrad because her marks were so high. Heaven forbid anyone else gets hurt. How can you manage the fast paced load of emerg if you cant even dispense meds for 2 patients. Im thinking our university is not putting safety first. Shouldnt the students with glowing clinical reports get priority in hi risk fast paced enviorments?
  8. by   kimtab
    Gee, why don't we just start a campaign to get employers to print GPA's right behind the degree on our badges. Then we can all have a rousing debate about whether we want the ADN with a 4.0 or the BSN with a 3.5 taking care of us.

    MY POINT WAS not about rounding grades or lowering standards. I didn't realize we were talking about lowering passing averages.. Personally, I agree with most of you but ...I believe It is arbitrary to judge someone's worth by virtue of a number. It's our system God Bless it and it works pretty well most of the time but it just isn't definitive. And that "magic number" you have to make at your school is a "standard" for your school only, not for the profession of nursing. The Nurse who graduated with a 75 at my school would have failed without question at that school that requires an 80.

    To be fair, if a school is going to be putting resources in place they have to put them there for the entire student population to use, not just the people who are teetering. And if whatever vague future programs we were originally discussing helps those borderline students get the right answers on the test then what is wrong with that? I assume we weren't talking about passing them crib notes during exam after all--but something more along the lines of study skills and test-taking strategies?
  9. by   Nurse Izzy
    A couple of points here:
    1) about lowering standards - definitely not. This is, to me, the same debate about whether or not female police/fire/soldiers should have different physical standards to adhere to. If you're going to be on the "front line" you should have the same standards as everyone else who is also on that front.

    2) Nursing is a whole different world from "regular" college. I graduated with a BA back in 1996 and the studying I did then is completely different from what I do now. It's a different approach - you have to know the info, be able to analyze and rationalize and then apply. Knowing it simply is not enough.

    3) my school has a fail once you get to repeat policy. If you fail the second time, you have to wait and then completely reapply to the program - none of the prior coursework (except pre-reqs) counts. We have several repeats in there now - one who really frightens me. She failed med-surg last year. We just had a test and she barely passed (75 is passing she pulled a 77) and said that was all she cared about - at least she's passing. To me, if you're a repeat and all you can manage is barely passing, that says something, like maybe you need to re-think your focus and ambition.

    4) Another thing my school does is to counsel students who are in danger of failing. A 75 is passing. If a student has a 74.6 they will counsel them as to whether or not they really need to continue on rather than repeating the course. We also had a girl last semester who had a 74.48 for her final average. They didn't average in the clinical component because they said her theory wasn't strong enough. She was excellent in the clinical aspect but they emphasize that you have to have the theory foundation to progress on - if the foundation your house is built on is weak then it will eventually crumble is what they say.

    Just my .02...
  10. by   jude11142
    Originally posted by Shamrock
    Hmmmm, I know some kick-*^% nurses that struggled
    somewhat in the academic setting. I also know some nurses that excelled in academics but don't know their right foot from their left hand. My thoughts are that I would not want to work with judgemental people.
    I have to agree with you shamrock. I was a "b" student, sometimes though I did have trouble in certain areas and my lowest grade was "59"(ouch!!). Some of my classmates who were always scoring high 90's-100 on all exams, are not so bright when it comes to working with patients and other medical personnel. They are not very good nurses either. That's not to say that all of the high-scoring students became "bad nurses", it just tells me that because one student may end up with a 75 avg and another with say a 95avg has no bearing on how good of a nurse one will be. I used to get so angry when somebody would say, "I wouldn't want so and so to be my nurse, she can't get over a 85 on tests". Well tell ya what, so and so is excellent on assessments, recognizing signs and symptoms of many diseases/illnesses and more importantly is a compassionate and warm nurse and I would take her for my nurse.

    Anyways, just my 2 cents worth.

  11. by   ParalyzeDragon
    Sometimes it may be just helping a person in one area for one semester
    that helps them to pass. The may be hump that is overcome by tutoring. Something in the brain just clicks and then the student can make it on their won from there. I was in Pre Cal and then Cal I and needed a tutor...after this something clicked about math. I was able to then finish my first degree in engineering becuase I was helped out for a period of time. The students who are helped have to work hard themselves. Kudos to them.
  12. by   Nemhain
    Quote from canoehead
    If someone is willing to spend extra time getting help and working to pass I am willing to spend extra money to help someone that shows commitment. But I agree that if standards are set and people don't live up to them we needs to enforce them.
    Right On!!!
  13. by   rn/writer
    It's far better to "raise up the student" than to lower the standards.

    IMO, helping borderline students to improve their skills is a far better solution than watering down the requirements. I DO think that such help should be conditional on other things like attitude, punctuality, and demonstration of committment. What a student lacks in academic attributes they should make up for in other areas. I'm not for spoon-feeding anyone. If you lack the maturity to make use of tutoring, maybe you need to come back in a year or two.

    I'm curious about one thing. At the school I attended, you couldn't even get on the waiting list for clinicals without having passed a three part test that set minimum standards for reading comprehension, writing skills, and math. You could take all the pre-reqs you wanted but you couldn't get into clinicals (or even on the waiting list, as I mentioned) until you had proved that you could function at a certain level. For those who failed any or all of the test, there were many remedial options, some of them at low or no cost.

    Don't other schools do this? As I recall, the standards of this qualifying test were set fairly high and some complained. But what this hurdle did was to weed out those students who would have flunked out anyway before they took up clinical spots that were put to better use by the more prepared. In my class (1994) I believe we lost only two students and one was more due to a language barrier (she had actually been an RN in Central America) than lack of ability.

    Seems like it benefits everyone to weed out the ill-equipped before they get to clinicals. The remedial students can get the help they need before they're under the incredible pressure of clinicals. And other students who are ready can get into school in a more timely manner.