Please help...How can I handle my professor?

  1. Hi,

    I need some advice. I have a problem with my nursing instructor and I don't know how to handle it.

    We were having our clinicals, 6 am, on Tuesday and as usual, we did our VS and PA on our patients. My 2nd pt was d/c on Tuesday, so I have to pick a new pt. I did all that for both pts, charted before 8 am. It was our 2nd day of giving PO meds, and I was all excited, and at the same time, nervous bout it. I totally forgot to do pt care such as bathing the pt and changing the linens. My professor was in charge of 12 of us, and she was not always with me. So I was waiting for her to give PO meds, but she was not available.

    Around 10 am, I started gathering clean sheets and was ready to do pt care on my first pt. All of the sudden she appeared in front of me, and asked me if she had done PO meds with me, and I said no. So I put the linens aside and start showing her the meds that the 2nd pt needed (1st pt went into the bathroom to shower at that time, so we couldn't give the meds to her).

    Since the meds are beta blockers and ACE inhibitors, we went into the room and did her BP before deciding giving the pt's meds. A CNA walked into the room and told me that she had already changed the linens for my 1st pt. My response was, "OK". She asked if I wanted her to do the 2nd pt's bed, I said "It's OK, I can do it myself"

    After clinicals we had a small conference at 11:45 am before going home. It was at the hospital lobby. I was running a bit late because I was still helping the 2nd pt doing a bath as she was slow. At 11:50 am, I went down stair and my professor and the rest of my class were waiting for me. She stared at me like she's gonna kill me. She stated, "the next time, if pt care was not done by 8 am, you're getting a probation.".

    I started to explain to her the reason why I didn't do pt care earlier because I was trying to prepare for meds and was anxious. She didn't want to hear me and threaten me saying, "do you want to get a probation NOW?" in front of all my classmates with all the visitors in the hospital. I stood there dumbfounded and quietly replied no.

    The next morning she came in with her usual bad mood and handed me a probation. She wrote on the probation saying I didn't follow the routine of care. But the thing I couldn't believe was she stated that I was being "very defensive" and having "bad manners". I was not satisfied and didn't want to be accused for something that I didn't do. So I went up to her and tried to explain to her, and she cut me off again by saying, "I heard what you said to the CNA, you said 'OK' should've said 'THANK YOU'", in front of all my classmates. I was almost choked with tears. She said, "if you don't like what I wrote, you can go to the dean and change you want that?" I stood there, frozen, and speechless. And at the end I gathered courage and said no, she forced me to sign the probation.

    I find her to be so unapproachable and intimidating. She threatened me, and to all of us, but none of us have the courage to complain because we waited so long to get into the program and we didn't want to lose this opportunity. During winter session, she even made racist remarks on me in front of 60 students because I'm an Asian, until I stopped her. She's not nurturing at all, and she threw her tantrum on us without reasons. I don't understand this, but I haven't seen a professor like her in all my college and university life.

    Now the question is...what should I do?

    I heard the dean was even harder to approach. Someone suggested that I could approach the dean of the academy and explain the scenario to him/her. I didn't want to feel unsafe and intimidated anymore because we are all adults, and we should have the right to express our feelings. I have been a good student all the while and have been getting good grades. It's against my culture to fight against a professor, but at this point, I have no choice but to do something because I do not want to have anymore sleepless nights just because of this issue. I rather have sleepless nights for studying hard for my exams.
  2. Visit toriphile23 profile page

    About toriphile23

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 19


  3. by   puggymae
    Check to see if your school has an ombudsman - if there is one contact that person and tell them your story. At our campus the ombudsman mediates between students and faculty when there is a problem, and even goes with the student to meetings with the instructors or dean.
  4. by   moongirl
    you are being bullied. Go up the chain of command.
  5. by   cherokeesummer
    I would ask to speak to the guidance office or guidance counselor.

    The fact is she said the next time you will get a probation but yet she gave you one anyway...that was wrong. I don't agree with you getting a probation for a one time thing such as late patient care. Often patients (at least in my experiences) don't always get it directly before 8am, some prefer not to, some wait for their loved ones to come do it, etc. Sometimes we are still in report waiting for the nurses report to finish before we can get in there and do patient care. So things happen, and linens and a bath, while very important are not something I would consider a probation offense on a first time...but I understand some schools are different.

    If she made a racist comment you should report that from the get go, should not be accepted.
  6. by   laurainri
    There are going to be some clinical instructors that are going to be like that and you dont want to get on their bad side. The semester almost over. keep your head down, no direct eye contact, dont speak unless they ask you a question, remember your please and thank you's at all times. I know I am going to get replies over this message but lets be truthful. Some teachers try to "beat you down" and whittle away at the weakest student. Be strong show them that you are NOT that student. try to make a mental plan of action. we have to have all of our pt care done by 9am and charting by 10. Now i am not saying all the teachers are like this some are wonderfull, helpful, encouraging. But to do it in front of other students, nurses is not acceptable at all. You have to feel them out and understand what they are looking for in a student. somebody in my clinicals got reprimanded the other day for drawing up a med the way out last instructor showed us how. Now we are doing it wrong. After your next clinicals eat some crow. I know it is hard but they can toss you out in a heartbeat. Good luck.
  7. by   Thedreamer
    Sometimes things can get outta control and very quickly turn into a bad situation. Just try to stay under her radar for the time being. I do not agree with her methods. I gave meds for the first time yesterday via PEG. We got to the floor at 0830, my patient had 8 meds to be given at 0900. Two more at 1100 and five at 1200. I am on the ICU step down, so everyone has vents, trachs, PEGs, and other various serious issues. We have to know everything about the meds we are giving before we give them, and we have to give them on time, ect, and do full patient care. Its hard sometimes but with some good time management it can be done.

    I can see where you had issues with timing it all and getting everything done, its happened to me before also, and might happen in the future! Unless you made a medication error or completely neglected your patients needs there should be no reason your instructor is being so hard on you. Saying simply "OK" can have many other aspects to make it a positive or negative remark. If you said "Ok" with a smile on your face and said it honestly, or were in the middle of something very important that needed your concentration, I can undersatnd you saying that instead of a full "Thank you very much for helping me today." which might have been more preferable. If you said simply "OK" monotone and with a negative attitude, that might have been why your instructor was upset. I doubt that the latter was the case since you seem like a nice student.

    Roll with the punches, stay down, choose your battles. In 5 years it wont matter how your instructor was, as long as you passed and got your liscence. P.s. The fact that she scolded you in front of your classmates was highly unproffessional. So was the fact that she wrote you up after clearly stating she wouldnt unless provoked. Just do your best and try to keep positive! *hugs*
  8. by   Alloramadai
    Remember the adage "nurses eat their young?" It begins in nursing school. I think it's part of the toughening up project. The instructors who gave me the hardest time at the beginning of school are now my strongest advocates in our final semester.

    Pick your battles wisely - it could become a very long process to get through nursing school without the instructors working with you!
  9. by   toriphile23

    Thank you all for replying and your valuable advice.

    Yes, we were supposed to do our prep work the night before our clinicals (which was Sunday). On Monday, everything went well. I did the best I could in my pt care and giving insulins and PO meds. Unfortunately, on the 2nd day, when I went to do VS and assessment on my pts, I realized the 2nd pt was d/c. I asked my professor if I should take another pt, she said no. But I feel like I needed to take care another pt, so I asked my resource RN if I can take another pt next door, and she agreed. So I have no clue, or whatsover, the 2nd pt's VS, meds, dx, etc. So that's why it took me quite a bit to do the VS and assessment on her. After finishing that (around 8 am), I had to look up my drug books to find the her meds - names & classes, indications, doses and routes, side effects cause I have to explain why the pt was getting such and such drugs. So it took me a while to do that, and I totally forgot bout my pt care.

    Btw, my 1st pt just started eating her breakfast at 8 am...was I suppose to ask her to sit on the chair and do the linens instead?

    When the CNA came in and told me that she did the linens on the 1st pt, I was in the middle of taking BP with my instructor beside me. I am only a first semester student, and I got anxious, so I gave her a quick reply of "OK" instead of the full "thank you so much for helping me" which I believe I always did to anyone - resource RN, CNA, even the pt. I always courteous because it's totally against my culture to be rude to somebody. I don't think I deserve a comment of "bad manners" on my probation because of saying OK. If I do something wrong, I WILL ALWAYS ADMIT. I don't put the blame on someone else like, "so and so didn't do this, so I couldn't do this..." I was trying to explain to her the reasons behind all this, but she shut me off. She was practically threatening me in front of all the students. What was I suppose to say? She just didn't want to listen to ANY of my excuses.

    On the 2nd day, she gave me the probation. I wasn't happy because of the comments. She said I didn't do pt care, OK, maybe I have to admit I was not managing my time properly (Yes, she mentioned before in the beginning of clinicals that we had to do pt care by 8 am), so I was wrong on that part. But saying that I was being defensive on her when I didn't even have the chance to talk, and saying that I was having bad manners when the fact that I was nervous and didn't say "thank you" to CNA were a bit out of line. The conversation went like this when I went up to her and asked for explaination.

    Me: Professor xxx, can I talk to you in private about the comment on my probation?
    Prof: No, you can talk here, nobody's listening
    (Half the class were siting in the room)
    Me: When you said that I was being defensive, I was actually trying to explain to you that...
    Prof: I heard what you said to the CNA, you said "OK"...You should've said "thank you".
    (I stood there speechless)
    Prof: IF you don't like what I wrote on the probation, go to the dean and change probation.
    (speechless again)
    Prof: Do you want that?
    Me: No.
    Prof: Then sign it!

    Some of the students witnessed that. They were even shocked with what she said to me. Every one was quiet and dare not speak a word. All I could do was to keep quiet and sign the probation.

    I told my partner about this incident and he said I have to go to the dean. I told him that a lot of student told me that the dean was not easy to manage. In fact, the dean would never pro the students. He was mad at me for not wanting to take actions on her. He said you should never suck it up (like what most of my classmates told me to) and moved on cause she will take more opportunities to bully me since I appear to be "weak".

    I talked to a nursing professor in my previous college, and asked for her opinion. She said she heard a lot of things about my professor and a lot of students had complained bout her. She said if I didn't manage to do what my professor had asked me to do, I should've told her or my resource RN and asked someone to help me. She said timing was very critical sometimes and I needed to be very careful on that. She also said that it is always a courtesy to say "thank you", no matter who helped you - CNA, LVN, another student nurse, etc, and I must bear in mind that never, never forget to say those words, so that it would make me appear to be "bossy". She told me not to talk to the dean of nursing first, because I might be getting into more trouble. I might need to talk to someone higher than the dean, such as the dean of academy...or a counselor, who's not from the nursing department.

    I requested help from a school advisor, but he said I had to make appointment to see him. So I had to wait. But when I told him that it was regarding a nursing instructor, he said, "nursing has the toughest discipline in this school. Sometimes, they might do it their ways, because only the nursing department knows what is right and what is wrong for the students. I can listen to your stories, but I can't promise to find a solution for you."

    I don't know, I feel so helpless now. I couldn't concentrate at all on my studies just because of this incident. If I can suck it up, I will. But it's just a matter of time for me to forget bout this issue...but I will NEVER forget her.
  10. by   schroeders_piano
    I'm sorry that you feel bad about this situation. I read the part in your post where you said you took on a second patient. When you asked your instructor, she told you no. If you hadn't taken the second patient, then you could had plenty of time to complete your work. You where the one that took the second patient.

    You are a first semester nursing student. I advise you to choose your battles wisely. I also suggest you consider when you finish school, you are going to be yelled at by docs, nurses, PT, family members, etc. in front of coworkers, patients, visitors, boses, and whoever else is around. It's not right but it does happen, and again you will have to pick and choose your battles. I suggest chalking this up to experience and doing the best you can for the rest of your clinicals.
  11. by   Psqrd
    I feel for you, I believe that your answer is somewhere between the extremes of advice that you have been given. Your time managment may have been off and your communication may have been lacking but I do believe that you didn't deserve to be treated with disrespect. What I would do is an written appeal of the probation and give your reason why you feel that you may have been treated poorly. I would then submit it to be added to your perm file with a cc at the bottom listing that you have given it to the Dean of nursing as well. I would not discuss it with your instructor any more unless your Dean was present. Then at least if you have to go to arbitration later on you have something on file to defend yourself. Make sure you get the letter stamped received and keep a copy for yourself. The only other advice that I have for you is when you asked to speak to her in private and she said no that you should have halted the conversation, by continuing to speak to her you gave up your right to privacy and she would defend herself on that point for those school has a policy for any student punishment that 2 instructors are present, if I had to meet with her in the future I would certainly request a second instructor sit in. The problem that you now face is that she will now (I hope not for you!) poison the waters with other instructors, if this happens and you feel that you have run into a brick wall then sometimes the only thing you can do is withdraw and go to another school if possible...much better than being kicked out and trying to explain that to another school. What you are facing is a bully...a bully with power over others and it is about the worst thing you can face in life...they are all over, sometimes they are police...sometimes the DMV...not say all but they are out there and you can't let them have an inch or they own you forever. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
    Psqrd...4 weeks left of Second semester of my ADN...yippee!!!
  12. by   laughing weasel
    keep a log of incidents actions taken to resolve them and witnesses. DO NOT provoke a battle your instructor will almost always win. It sucks but there is also a shortage of instructors so the school will always assume that they are right. They also have more experience with the people and the procedures that handle these incidents. the log is a last ditch effort tool that may make things worse but can be used to show a pattern of your attempts to resolve the conflict and as a rebuttal to the probation statement. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. take whatever learning that you can from the instructor even if it is only what not to do. stay under her radar and graduate. good luck.
  13. by   NurseLatteDNP
    Quote from toriphile23
    Unfortunately, on the 2nd day, when I went to do VS and assessment on my pts, I realized the 2nd pt was d/c. I asked my professor if I should take another pt, she said no. But I feel like I needed to take care another pt, so I asked my resource RN if I can take another pt next door, and she agreed.
    I don't understand why you took another patient, if your instructor told you not to do it. I would get in major trouble for that too.
  14. by   ZooMommyRN
    I'm not taking the side of the professor here on all accounts, but you might as well said to her face "you don't have any authority" when you went literally behind her back after being told no, to someone that would give you a yes and give what you wanted, and because of that you 'forgot' about patient care, yes things get hectic and sticky and pt care gets delayed but it should never be forgotten and I'm willing to bet from years of experience on the instructor's part, she knew if you were assigned a 2nd pt with al new dx, hx and meds that you would become consumed with looking up on that pt, so yes while you got fried by it, probably a bit on the overboard side, there is another person you are forgetting entirely. The patient whose care was 'forgotten' in my own warped corner of earth I feel that person had the harshest punishement that day.