What to do when a professor is insensitive

  1. I have some advice that I wish I had received weeks ago: It's okay to quit a course when a school tolerates a professor who plays with students and believes that she is "facilitating" when she chooses to withhold information from the students. This article would have helped me see that the phrase "Winners never quit and Quitters never win" does not always apply. I have "strategically" quit to focus on a more positive approach. I invite comments.

    What to do when a professor is insensitive

    My first year in nursing school began with high hopes. I'm passionate about helping those in need. My motto is "we are all here to serve each other." I thought that I should become a nurse because so many nurses that I've met in hospitals are generally caring people who give all of their attention to me and the people I accompany to the hospital.

    DISCOURAGED BY THE WALL

    Imagine my surprise when the first course in nursing school (after the 18 months of pre-requisites like Philosophy, Writing, Math, A and P, Biology and the HESI entrance test were behind me) was to hear, "I am the CEO of this classroom!"

    Professor Christine (I'll withhold her last name) has been teaching for 11 years. She was teaching my first course, Fundamentals of Nursing (introduction to nursing), for only the second year. Most of her teaching career had been in higher level courses. So when she was assigned the entry-level students, she treated us like higher-level students.

    "I'm here to facilitate you. Not teach you. You need to read and figure things out for yourself. That's called critical thinking."

    She assumed that giving a lecture about how to build a "Plan of Care" was enough. "When I don't finish a chapter, because I run out of time, I expect you to cover the rest of the chapter by reading. Then you will be ready for the exam."

    Instead of giving us practice questions to assist in preparing for the exam, she highlights the parts of each chapter (the "learning objectives") and then created detailed questions "click on all that apply" ... and if we get 3 out of 4 correct, the entire question is marked incorrect.

    It's like she has built a tall wall and she's waiting on the other side of the wall to see who gets over. When one of my classmates wondered aloud, "I wonder what sign of the zodiac she is...", another classmate muttered, "The dragon."

    Readers, this is when it's a good idea to take a deep breath and look at the options. There is little use in asking to switch to a different professor... Professor Christine is the only professor for the entry level course. (2) There is little choice but to drop the class and try again next semester... (3) transfer. Yes, there is power in strategic quitting. The entry level course is typically paired with another course and it's OKAY to focus on one course, rather than struggling to keep up with both courses. This is what it takes to survive a course with a dragon.

    OH, THERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS THAT ARE STUPID

    We often hear that "there is no such thing as a stupid question." Well, Professor Christine hasn't heard that aphorism. "Billy, you are not doing me a favor by showing up today. I don't need any of your questions." Can you imagine what the mood in the class was while she berated Billy?

    I decided to take an F for the course and re-take the course later. I kept attending to learn the head to toe assessment. Professor Christine was my evaluator and said, "Oh, since this is not going to count for points, you don't have to do this assessment." ... that distracted me so much, I missed several items that I knew by heart.

    In short, she is a person who delights in cutting down students. "I like playing with you all. You know that it makes you stronger." ugh.

    EXPECT MORE

    I'm writing this article for the audience of first-year students. Please don't assume, as I did, that all nursing programs are alike. "We just have to accept what they are doing to us." Don't accept a dragon professor. Go to the program director and share your experience. If you don't get relief, find another school. Some schools tolerate such professors and that is just the system. These are not bad people. W. Edwards Deming, the quality control expert, once said that 94 percent of errors made by a company are caused by procedures and rules. Only 6 percent comes from bad actors. Most mistakes are caused by the expectations of the organization.

    I'm shifting to the Chamberlain program in September 2018 in Miramar, Florida. I'm hoping to connect with current Chamberlain allnurses.com readers. Please leave me your comments. a) do all nursing programs have a dragon professor? (I hope not). b) at Chamberlain, is it possible to retake a course if things get tough and I need a re-do? c) If I'm taking a course as an audit (not for credit, just for practice), would any professor say what Professor Christine did? "Oh, since this is not going to count for points, you don't have to do this assessment."

    REFERENCES

    Retrieved at Appreciation for a System << The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Jul 12
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    About gatitasrn

    I'm a former medical billing person. I hurt my back so I can't sit for long hours, and decided to become a nurse ... this is my view from the classroom in 2018

    Joined: Jul '18; Posts: 6

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    23 Comments

  3. by   Tacomaboy3
    Besides the comment to Billy, I think she sounds like a reasonable instructor. It's reasonable to read the chapters even when it's not covered in lecture. It's reasonable that you must get SATA questions exactly correct to receive a point (this mirrors the NCLEX). Also, it's reasonable for her to not evaluate your head-to-toe assessment when you failed the class - it's a waste of her time.

    I think I'm missing the core concept of your post...even if an instructor were super dragon-y and harsh, I'd still bust my butt, study the content and try to ace the exams and assignments.

    Sounds like she got into your head and you're trying to rationalize why you failed and changed programs.

    Failing a course is 99% of the time because of the student, not instructor.
  4. by   Neats
    Well it does sound like this instructor is harsh and belittles each student she has. Well you cannot control others so you need to approach them differently or stay away from them like you did. I do not agree with you withdrawing but it maybe a generation thing or the way I grew up. The only time I quit was because I was going through breast cancer and just could not complete my tasks physically or mentally.

    I would have taken this as a challenge to work with difficult people and I would win. I remember I was trained by a terrible nurse in Utilization review who ate the young of anything that came into her view. One day I felt so low I put my pointed finger near her eye/side and said to her I'm not touching you. The look on her face was priceless and I cracked myself up for my own mental health. She softened up after that too.

    What you did was avoidance of something that makes you feel uncomfortable, although this is OK in the real life you will be coming across many walks of life that make you feel uncomfortable, why not learn in the safety of the class how to deal with that. Life is not fair, not all get a trophy nor a fair shake. You alone determine the way you want your life to go and you have to work very hard for it. If you feel this is the case look at what you just went through to get where you are now despite you quitting. Your avoidance really was not one in that she had such an impact on you to do what you did. I would have focused on the class content rather than the instructor, refocus your instructor and teach her. You missed an opportunity.
  5. by   Neo Soldier
    I will always say: your instructor isn't there to make your life as painless as possible.
    These people have lives and don't care for you that much; that's the harsh reality.

    I've had professors that I absolutely disliked, in fact, one shared some prejudiced/racist sentiments which made me dislike her even more.

    You need to realize that getting into nursing school takes a lot of focus and effort and once you get in, you need to stay in if you can help it. It sounds like you gave up your seat to appease your ego. That's almost inexcusable.

    So you've found another school, an expensive one at that. What will you do if you happen to have another insensitive instructor?
  6. by   IzzyJ
    If I am being completely honest, besides the belittling, this sounds just like my experience in my first semester of nursing school/Fundamentals this summer. I actually was thinking, "Someone lectured her class on care plans! Wish I had had that!". We have gone over 42 chapters of Fundamentals, a ton of dosage and Pharm, and had a total of 7 lectures the entire year. SATA questions are wrong if you do not answer all that are correct, which I think is typical. We have had to learn much of the content alone. Some of this had a lot to do with fitting a ridiculous amount of information in a shorter summer semester.

    I would say to expect a lot of what you experienced wherever you go. I have been overwhelmed quite a bit, but very quickly realized that my complaining wasn't going help me learn, or make me a better nurse long term. Nursing school is no joke, there will always be a reason why you can't do if you are constantly looking for it. Although I feel for you, I really do, I think the expectation you have is potentially unreasonable.

    Final note. Having a good support system who are patient and willing to listen to your complaints/stresses/venting to get it out (my husband and sister are mine), and then push forward and succeed. My 0.02 at least. Good luck!
    Last edit by IzzyJ on Jul 11 : Reason: missed a word
  7. by   Mavrick
    Quote from Neo Soldier
    I will always say: your instructor isn't there to make your life as painless as possible.
    These people have lives and don't care for you that much; that's the harsh reality.

    I've had professors that I absolutely disliked, in fact, one shared some prejudiced/racist sentiments which made me dislike her even more.

    You need to realize that getting into nursing school takes a lot of focus and effort and once you get in, you need to stay in if you can help it. It sounds like you gave up your seat to appease your ego. That's almost inexcusable.

    So you've found another school, an expensive one at that. What will you do if you happen to have another insensitive instructor?
    You've stacked all your hopes on a school that may not be any better but will sure load you up with student loan debt?

    Doesn't sound like a very good choice for such a sensitive student.
  8. by   JKL33
    Glad you made a choice you could live with, but boy I would never let one of "these" get the best of me. I have zero respect for such. The only way I wouldn't get an A would be if I had trouble returning my eyeballs back to their functional position after her CEO comment.

    No offense but I think my advice is better: Never let miserable people make you miserable.
  9. by   caliotter3
    Be careful. A student I went to school with was prevented from entering other programs once she left the one we were in together because of the school's opinion of her behavior and their ability to block her transfer. Just like getting blacklisted in the work world. It would be terrible to think the school might encourage your dragon by making people like you untouchable by other programs.
  10. by   Oldmahubbard
    A friend of mine attended an ADN program not long ago. Apparently nursing school has gotten extraordinarily selective now, and this program only accepts people who either graduated near the top of their high school class, or already have a college degree.

    By definition, every student at that school can do the academic work, yet they treat their students like bad little children, and they have a 50% graduation rate.

    Truly, I wonder how they can get away with it, because the majority of these students will now have tax payer subsidized loans that they can't repay.

    High academic standards, yes. Having to know information not taught in class, but in the reading, yes. But some of it sounds like verbal abuse.
  11. by   Kristenlaurenw
    This sounds a lot like my experience in nursing school. In fact, only 14 out of 40 actually graduated. It was awful but no way I was voluntarily quitting and taking an F. That's horrible advice to someone who wants to transfer to another program. You're lucky you got accepted somewhere else.
    Although I disagree with the giving up method, I do see a problem with instructors who don't try to guide students at all. I just accepted a faculty position and while I want to prepare my students by making sure they have what it takes to think critically on their own, I definitely dont want to be a dragon!
  12. by   TalleyGirl
    Instructors who don't want to teach shouldn't be instructor. I cannot believe how accepted it is. If I wanted to take an online course I would do that. Why is she even there if she is not willing to be a teacher.
  13. by   broughden
    Sorry for the harsh assessment but the only problem here sounds like you (the OP). Neither the class nor the professor sound overly difficult.

    she highlights the parts of each chapter (the "learning objectives") and then created detailed questions "click on all that apply"
    So what's the problem? She has literally handed you the test on a silver platter. Study the learning objectives then and pass the test. If you are having a hard time with this I would question your studying habits or ability to successfully complete nursing school.

    I decided to take an F for the course and re-take the course later.
    Brilliant.

    "Oh, since this is not going to count for points, you don't have to do this assessment." ... that distracted me so much, I missed several items that I knew by heart.
    Her simple comment distracted you that much from doing a simple head to toe assessment? The more you write and the more you say the more Im questioning your ability to be nurse. How are you going to react in an ER or clinic with a patient in pain, upset family members and all the craziness of a busy hospital or clinic?
    Have you considered a career in hospitality management?

    I'm writing this article for the audience of first-year students.
    Please dont. Your advice is horrible.
  14. by   Orion81RN
    Quote from broughden
    Sorry for the harsh assessment but the only problem here sounds like you (the OP). Neither the class nor the professor sound overly difficult.


    So what's the problem? She has literally handed you the test on a silver platter. Study the learning objectives then and pass the test. If you are having a hard time with this I would question your studying habits or ability to successfully complete nursing school.



    Brilliant.


    Her simple comment distracted you that much from doing a simple head to toe assessment? The more you write and the more you say the more Im questioning your ability to be nurse. How are you going to react in an ER or clinic with a patient in pain, upset family members and all the craziness of a busy hospital or clinic?
    Have you considered a career in hospitality management?


    Please dont. Your advice is horrible.
    While I felt like you chewed my head off in another post, this one has me cracking up.

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