Interesting questions. Ever thought about becoming a talk show host?
I can say that as one of the 10 males out of 55 students in my class, I've never felt like I was treated any differently as a guy. I will say that I have had several instructors tell me that they preferred male students. When I asked why, answers ranged from "they're so much easier to deal with" to "they don't fight with each other like all the girls." I made a fascinating observation during my first semester. As all of the girls were making friends, choosing enemies and forming cliques, all of the guys managed to avoid the drama and get along. Many of us have nothing in common other than being male and in nursing school. But we all respect each other and I have never seen a single conflict between two male students. The girls? Let's just say I'm waiting for someone to produce a reality show on nursing school. (More backstabbing than Survivor).
As for nursing careplans, I think they are a great learning tool. I've learned a lot about how to assess, how to plan for care and the proper way to carry out the plan. That said, I've had more than one instructor grade our performance entirely on careplans, never looking into the actual care given to the patient. I have classmates who are going to be amazing nurses that can't write a careplan to save their lives. I've seen others churn out amazing careplans who shouldn't be allowed to give their own kids Tylenol! I think they should be used as a learning tool but that students should always understand that patients come first. I have literally seen patients neglected (ex.- pain meds being delayed) so students can turn in their careplans on time and avoid the wrath of an instructor.
One of the things I find most frustrating about nursing school is the idea that an instructor is either nice OR effective. These two are not mutually exclusive!!! You can be a very likable instructor and still challenge your students to do their best. It's all in the delivery and goes back to my point about self-esteem. Always consider a student's self-esteem when delivering feedback, positive or negative.
Testing? Oye. That's another thread! (And another book I could write). Same goes for how staff nurses treat students at the hospitals. I will say this. I wish more people understood the concept of karma- you put out good energy and it comes back to you. I realize there is little tangible benefit to a staff nurse being kind and helpful to students.. they don't receive any extra money, their supervisors are unlikely to acknowledge their extra work and some students don't even show appreciation. That said, I think it's good karma to be helpful and teach students. I have learned more from listening and watching staff nurses than I have from lectures, texts and skills labs combined!
One last thought. I was reminded of the worst thing I've seen in nursing school when I read over my description of a bad instructor. The worst thing I've seen (and trust me when I say I've seen many, many disturbing things) is when an instructor told a classmate "you're not RN material. And you never will be." Yes, it happened. And no, it's not true. She's turned out to be one of the best students in the class. I will be watching for a certain finger at graduation.