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Gripes Galore...Need ADVICE!!

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TopSecret TopSecret (Member)

This is gonna be long...

I'm in my first semester of an RN program at an older age. I was eagerly looking forward to it until I actually got into it and found that I don't seem to be getting the respect I think I deserve. Let me preface this by saying I'm in no way a prima donna type, but I am extremely accomplished, so would expect a certain amount of normal respect. I don't want to say too much and give away who I am, but I have a couple of undergrad degrees & a master's degree in very difficult subject areas. In addition, I come from a background full of people with doctorate degrees and other types of very decent accomplishments. When I first started the program, I was very quiet about my background although the instructors may have known (at least, about my education assuming they bothered to look). As I said, I'm not the ego-driven, braggart type. However, I'm wondering if I was too quiet since I seem to be getting bypassed for people in my class who have nowhere near on the ball what I have going for me. I'm actually starting to wonder whether maybe it's due to my age (in which case, I'd be pretty annoyed about any kind of age discrimination). Seems like either that or I've been too quiet about who and what I am - especially relative to some of my classmates who, although they have no previous degrees, are quite vocal about calling out answers trying to impress classmates & instructors. Btw, I do have straight A's so far in the program, so even if the other students didn't know that, the instructors do know. Yet, it seems I get no respect from the instructors - one in particular. Can't quite figure whether she's intimidated by me or what (I have more education than she does) - whatever it is, she has been rather rude from almost day 1. The first week or two in her class, I did ask questions and such - but she kept ignoring me and trying to shut me up. So I tried a different approach - just sat quietly asking no questions. Then I started getting annoyed that some of the class loudmouths were encouraged to get even louder by the instructors (especially this one). It's also to the point that she and one of the other instructors are actually flirty in class with one of the younger male students too. The male student seems OK but he's not a particularly good student - so I find myself sitting there thinking why are the intructors paying any attention to him at all. Well, I KNOW why - they're literally flirting with him as I said. Meanwhile, those of us who deserve to be recognized based on accomplishment take a 2nd seat to that. Smacks of not only unprofessionalism but also of gender and age bias. The instructor who flirts the most (gets all giggly and such around the male student, always calling on him, joking with him, and so on) is actually a great instructor (insofar as knowledge and teaching ability) and treats me well too, but I'm still somewhat shocked at her behavior in class. The rude instructor heaps attention on this (20-something) male student too (although she is old enough to be his mother and then some - she's older than me too and I'm 44 - guessing she's about 55 and the other instructor is probably late 30s to early 40s). What's even stranger yet, is, at times, these 2 get annoyed with the male student when he starts getting too rambunctious in class. Well, no kidding, they've been encouraging it, so of course he's going to get rambunctious. Even he seems confused - at times, he's really eating it up and then they pull the rug out from under him at other times, so he gets really quiet then. Adding to all of that, other students are starting to gossip about the male student being too loud in class now. Anyway, you get the idea: weird happenings in class with 2 out of my 3 instructors, classmates starting to flip out, and no respect from the rude instructor. I keep flipping in my mind between thinking they're complete idiots (the rude one especially) and just blowing it off, total shock other times, total irritation at other times (and on the verge of saying something I might regret), and at other times just thinking the whole program is totally unprofessional. The main thing I'm concerned with is that if these are the kind of people with whom I'll eventually be working, I'd better figure out a way to deal with them. I've thought about assertively approaching the rude instructor after class, but I really don't want to totally burn bridges (you never know who she knows - plus that also risks her rattling on to other instructors I may have in the next 3 blocks & I don't want to make my name "mud"). Besides, with such a wacky situation, not sure talking to anyone would accomplish much. On the other hand, I've been so irritated at times that I've muttered a couple of things under my breath that she probably heard. I've been thinking maybe it's better just to confront her assertively and professionally rather than risk my irritation coming out even more - but then I flip back to thinking I need to just keep my mouth shut due to the the burning bridges aspect. Then again, bridges may already be burned if the one heard my mutterings. Adding to all of this, I'm beginning to get very sheepish in class in response to all of this. Thinking this is going to be a long haul in the program if things are shaping up this way so early. As I said, my real bottom line is I don't want to burn bridges and screw up a new career before I even graduate. So, any advice on how to deal with the situation? Also, does anyone else think some of these nursing programs seem totally unprofessional?

Edited by TopSecret

Well I actually read all of that and as an older student who has degrees in another field, I'll give you what advice I may. And I should say I hope to get many more degrees :)

First of all, yor degrees in other fields don't really matter in terms of the degree you are pursuing now. Unless you won the Nobel peace prize, not sure why you would think a piece of paper would deserve respect. You, like the rest of your class, were able to get into nursing school which doesn't seem like a trivial task. So, you are on the same playing field as the rest of your class. Now having said that, I think if you are totally ignored by your teacher, I can understand your frustration. The thing is if you are getting good grades and not receiving negative comments then it may just be a personality conflict. If you approach her, I'm not sure it will change anything. I would say just keep doing what you are doing. Try your best to rise above whatever rudeness you perceive and do your best to avoid responding back negatively.

I would also remind you that your fellow students are your peers and there will always people sthat goof around as well as those that study. Align yourself with those that study and try to get to know them. You don't have to be best friends but I'd encourage some level of friendliness. I only say this because I know being an older student is difficult but this is something that has helped me thus far. You may already be doing this but I know for us older students it may take more effort to fully interact with fellow students especially if they are much younger than us.

bsyrn, ASN, RN

Specializes in Peds, School Nurse, clinical instructor. Has 21 years experience.

Accomplishments and degrees are great but don't = respect. As far as I am concerned you need to earn the respect of your instructors and classmates. Don't get caught up in nonsense and gossipy behavior, concentrate on what you are doing now. You say you're not the prima donna type... then stop acting like one. BTW I am pretty sure your instructors are not intimidated by your educational status...

Double-Helix, BSN, RN

Specializes in PICU, Sedation/Radiology, PACU. Has 9 years experience.

What type of respect are you looking for? You said that you feel your past degrees entitle you to some level of respect- what kind particularly? Do you want to be called on more in class? Complimented more? Treated differently somehow? It might help you to identify exactly what type of recognition you feel you need.

I highly, highly doubt that each instructor you have bothered to look at your CV, resume, or admission application. They are teaching as though all the students know the same amount about nursing, which seems accurate, since your degrees are in other fields. I don't think you're the only second-degree student either.

Certain things make some students get more attention and apparent preference. A couple of those things are personality and charism (another could be looks), which this male student seems to have.

You're only in the first year of the program and your instructors haven't had much time to get to know you. There were instructors I disliked my first year that are close friends now. My advice would be to always have a positive attitude, do your best work, as questions when you need to- regardless of the response- and find some friends in the program who will support you. If you want to approach the instructor- it's your choice, but I don't think it will get you anywhere. The instructor will probably feel you are being critical and asking for special treatment.

In many areas of nursing you might not feel respected- by patients, families, doctors, co-workers, etc. You can't gain their respect by confronting them all and explaining your qualifications. It's best to learn to be secure in who you are now- respect yourself and the opinion of others matters much less.

Respect is earned in nursing. Former degrees are worth pretty much nothing in nursing school besides having transfer credits. Study hard, come prepared to clinical and work hard, and follow the rules. Then you might start feeling some respect being given to you towards the end of the program. Most importantly, drop the sense of entitlement and aura of superiority - people probably pick up on that and it's negatively affecting the way they react to you, both instructors and students.

I, too, am an older BSN student with 2 previous degrees. The last degree I completed was in an allied health profession. I currently work in an acute unit alongside nurses, earning a much higher salary. I won't begin my first nursing course until June, but working with these nurses has introduced me to the kind of social structure I will encounter in school.

In my unit there are definite social cliques: the 30 year veterans who have never been on another unit, the new-comers, the social butterflies, the "popular" group... Sometimes it reminds me of high school! In my current field, practitioners tend to be both respectful and supportive of one another and universally very professional. I have worked in this discipline in multiple settings for 13 years and know that it will be somewhat difficult to adjust to the immaturity of certain colleagues within nursing. In fact, this has been one of my concerns in choosing to expand my skills into nursing.

But also in my unit there are several nurses who are simply respectful and professional and do not easily fit into any stereotypical social group. These nurses are highly knowledgeable, provide great care to their patients, and interact well with their teammates. I realize that they are the inspiration for me continuing my education, and I plan on following their example, both in class and once I am a nurse.

I think the trick is keeping sight of why you selected nursing as your next step in life and remaining true to your personal goals. Avoid getting caught up in any drama, while maintaining that level of professionalism you have already mastered. You will be an example to the students who have yet to reach your level of maturity, and you will stand out as a role-model in the eyes of your instructors. It's not about being given the respect you have earned through your previous accomplishments. It's about using these achievements to stand out as a true professional and model the respect you seek to receive. :)

You have a couple of undergraduate degress and a Masters and you give us a 1028 word mini-dissertation about nursing school and you have only one paragraph?

What happened to sentence structure??

Edited by NeedchangeofPace

KeeperMom

Specializes in ED. Has 10 years experience.

I agree with the above posters.

I just finished my BS degree this week and I am also an older student.

I don't care how many degrees or letters you (a collective 'you') have behind your name, everyone in nursing school is you EQUAL and the only respect you will get is that which you EARN.

Did you ever think that there are many others in your program that have earned previous degrees? When I started my program, I was very shocked by home many students already had degrees in other fields or even in a related field.

Out of 150 that we started with, four of the ones that I know of that haven't progressed with us as a group, already had degrees in a science-related field.

As far as being recognized goes, get used to the fact that you will not be recognized by your instructors in class.

Not trying to be snarky or anything here, but it sounds a bit like you are expecting a lot from your teachers and other students and that you think a lot of yourself. It is ok to be confident but being cocky and arrogant will get you no where fast in NS. Let me give you an example: there is an older guy in my program that always sits in the front of the class and monopolizes the class time, always answers questions w/o giving other students a shot - doesn't raise his hand, etc, asks a million and one questions, many of which have either already been covered or he asks them in such a way that he has to let everyone know just how smart he is and that he read the chapters. It is very clear that he already knows the answers, he is just making SURE everyone knows he is smart. Bottom line, he comes across as a HUGE kiss azz.

Does he get respect from any other student? NO. I can also tell you that in our senior year, even the teachers have wizened up to his b.s. and almost go out of their way to avoid him.

I just re-read your post and it does sound like you are, indeed, a prima donna and that you think a lot of yourself. It is time to get over yourself and realize that everyone is on equal footing. If you continue to think you are better than everyone else and that you deserve more than your fellow students based on those sheets of paper, your NS experience will be miserable. Do yourself a favor act like a student and no a know-it-all. No one likes the know-it-all.

Thanks for the advice so far. I do want to clarify that I absolutely do not display any sort of "superior" attitude in class. To reiterate, I am a straight A student in the nursing classes too (very high A's at that), so it's not as though I'm goofing around. I am entitled both morally and legally to at least the same treatment as other students are getting. I should also make clear from a legal standpoint, my attitude is completely irrelevant. For example, even if I decided to display a "superior" attitude, there is nothing illegal about that on my part. It is, however, breaking federal law on their parts to discriminate based on gender, age, and also the sexual harassment of the younger male.

An aside: someone brought up yet another gripe regarding big mouths who "azz lick" and try to impress with calling out answers. That's going on in these classes too, and the people who are doing it are not only getting away with it but the instructors are actually encouraging the big mouths. I am definitely not one of those types - the big mouths absolutely get on my nerves - even more so with these other things occurring too. If anything, I may have been too humble in class. Even in that event, there is nothing illegal about me being too humble in class. Basically, I sit there fairly quietly other than having asked legitimate questions in the first couple of weeks. Now, I simply do not ask questions. That brings up yet another aspect: I'm not getting what I paid for either insofar as instruction is concerned.

Back to othe original point: I'm basically really asking if there is a good way to stop it without resorting to legal action. I'm not really seeking advice regarding how to simply "put up" with it to get through the program. It needs to be curtailed on their parts - period. As I said, these people are flat out breaking federal law regarding age & gender discrimination (and stupid enough to do it while lectures are being recorded) as well as opening themselves up to sexual harassment charges should the younger male ever become annoyed. At this point, I don't want to find myself marching into anyone's office and overtly threatening legal action, yet I will not be subjected to this kind of illegal behavior. The real question is how to curtail it without resorting to lawyers and the like, yet not compromising my own standards by simply "putting up" with it?

Edited by TopSecret

2ndyearstudent, CNA

Specializes in CNA.

So, any advice on how to deal with the situation?

You don't deserve any of the respect you appear to be expecting early in the program. You haven't done a thing. You are the exact equal to a kid outta high school who got into the program same as you. Nursing school is like boot camp in a lot of ways. They break you down and they build you up. Go with it. These judgements you are making, the resentment of instructors, the muttering under your breath need to stop. Immediately.

When I made a decision to change careers to nursing, I knew one of the things I would have to do is leave my "old self" behind. I was no longer a seasoned professional with almost two decades of getting things done in the real world. I was making multi-million dollar decisions before many of my classmates were out of diapers. You know what that is worth in nursing school? Nothing.

I was a complete newbie with a CNA certificate and no experience. On the first day of my first CNA job, I kept my eyes and ears open and my mouth shut. I had a lot to learn before I could make any judgements. This experience is humbling, but it has great returns.

In doing this, I earned respect from my peers and my superiors with my current actions, not my past accomplishments.

When I started Nursing School sometime later, I used the exact same approach. In addition to attacking the material and working hard on all the skills, I focused on being a good resource for my fellow students and the instructors, assisting them with technical issues and acting as a liaison between them and the students. I have talked countless students terrified they weren't going to make it down from ledges.

I ignored all the "Nursing School Drama" and noticed people tended not to bring you into it when they notice you aren't interested. I earned respect and in some cases downright adoration not for who I was before, but for how I conducted myself in the program.

I graduate next Monday. Nursing school was tough, but it was a blast. I made some great friends in the class and among the staff.

You can do this too, consider changing your thinking a bit.

Good luck!

How do you know you are being discriminated because of your age? I'm quite sure that they are used to having older students go through the program. Do you feel you are truly being ignored and it could potentially be a problem to your success? Do you have legitimate questions, things that you are unclear about and attempt to clarify and they are ignoring you? If so then I would make an appointment to speak to the instructor and without accusations, address the matter. However, if its just that you want to ask questions or speak up to get recognition, then there is nothing that needs to be said.

KeeperMom

Specializes in ED. Has 10 years experience.

Thanks for the advice so far. I do want to clarify that I absolutely do not display any sort of "superior" attitude in class. To reiterate, I am a straight A student in the nursing classes too (very high A's at that), so it's not as though I'm goofing around. I am entitled both morally and legally to at least the same treatment as other students are getting. I should also make clear from a legal standpoint, my attitude is completely irrelevant. For example, even if I decided to display a "superior" attitude, there is nothing illegal about that on my part. It is, however, breaking federal law on their parts to discriminate based on gender, age, and also the sexual harassment of the younger male.

I'm basically really asking if there is a good way to stop it without resorting to legal action. I'm not really seeking advice regarding how to simply "put up" with it to get through the program. It needs to be curtailed on their parts - period. As I said, these people are flat out breaking federal law regarding age & gender discrimination (and stupid enough to do it while lectures are being recorded) as well as opening themselves up to sexual harassment charges should the younger male ever become annoyed. At this point, I don't want to find myself marching into anyone's office and overtly threatening legal action, yet I will not be subjected to this kind of illegal behavior. The real question is how to curtail it without resorting to lawyers and the like, yet not compromising my own standards by simply "putting up" with it?

Ya know, I'm just gonna throw this out there.... Maybe it isn't what you say but how you say things to people and the attitude and 'air' that you exude. Sounds to me like you are LOOKING for ways to be unhappy and not play by their rules.

I you are looking for legal advice, you are barking up the wrong tree. Heck, you are in the wrong dang forest! By the TOU, we cannot give you any legal advice.

You have two choices as I see it. You can either change your attitude and play by their rules or get out. It really is that simple.

I can give you a list of things from my program that really bug the snot out of me but guess what? I kept my nose clean, played by the rules, did what was required of me and now I have a degree. A second degree at that.

If you get all caught up in the negative things about nursing school and you stir the proverbial pot, you WILL be unhappy and miserable and, in turn, the teachers and admin will go out of their way to help you get there.

Again, do yourself a favor and GET OVER YOUR SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT and learn to play nice with others. You are their equal and the ONLY thing you are entitled to is the chair in the classroom and the grade you EARN while sitting there. The sooner you realize that, the better off and happier you will be.

Double-Helix, BSN, RN

Specializes in PICU, Sedation/Radiology, PACU. Has 9 years experience.

i am entitled both morally and legally to at least the same treatment as other students are getting. i should also make clear from a legal standpoint, my attitude is completely irrelevant. for example, even if i decided to display a "superior" attitude, there is nothing illegal about that on my part. it is, however, breaking federal law on their parts to discriminate based on gender, age, and also the sexual harassment of the younger male.

i'm basically really asking if there is a good way to stop it without resorting to legal action. as i said, these people are flat out breaking federal law regarding age & gender discrimination (and stupid enough to do it while lectures are being recorded) as well as opening themselves up to sexual harassment charges should the younger male ever become annoyed. at this point, i don't want to find myself marching into anyone's office and overtly threatening legal action, yet i will not be subjected to this kind of illegal behavior.

let me clarify- there is nothing illegal/discriminatory in the behavior that you have described.

i don't know the specifics of the flirting behavior but "sexual harassment, is [color=#0645ad]intimidation, [color=#0645ad]bullying or [color=#0645ad]coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors" unless this is taking place, there is no sexual harassment, the male student is an adult, and it's his responsibility to do something about it, not yours.

and as far as illegal discriminatory behavior- did you get denied acceptance to the program based on age or gender? no. are you getting poor performance marks based on your age or gender? no- as you stated, you are getting high a's.

no, what's happening is you feel you are entitled to more respect/preferential treatment because you have all these other degrees. you stated you think you should have been more open to instructors and students about "what and who you are" especially relative to other classmates. that right there tells me you think you are better than other students and think that if they knew all your previous degrees, they would automatically give you more respect.

one instructor was rude and discouraged you from asking questions. two pay more attention to a male student. this is not discrimination, nor is it illegal. i've attached the age discrimination in employment act. maybe it will help you realize that you are not experiencing discrimination. http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/adea.cfm

no, there are no legal grounds for you to go on. you can talk to the instructors about there behavior, but i suspect it would only make things worse. you can keep quiet and earn respect like the other students. or, you can leave the program and go to another school.

I am entitled both morally and legally to at least the same treatment as other students are getting. I should also make clear from a legal standpoint, my attitude is completely irrelevant. For example, even if I decided to display a "superior" attitude, there is nothing illegal about that on my part.

What this boils down to is that you're behaving like an entitled, self-righteous blowhard, people don't like you because of it and are treating you accordingly, but now you're whining and playing victim. Nothing illegal is going on from what you described. Stop acting like this and that should solve all these problems. I'll warn you that if you don't, you won't get anywhere at all in nursing.

i think you are looking for someone to affirm your feelings, not give you advice. so far you have gotten really good advice. you know it is possible that there are people in the world who just don't like you, your instructor being one of them. so what? she doesn't have to like you. your grades aren't suffering. you are not being kicked out of the program. i'm wondering why it is you feel you are being discriminated against because of your age? could it be that you have insecurity about being an older student and are therefore projecting it on to others? you said you don't have a superior attitude but you mentioned that “i come from a background full of people with doctorate degrees and other types of very decent accomplishments.” what does your families accomplishments have to do with you or the amount of respect you deserve? so basically, the answer to your question is the change has to come from you, since i believe the heart of the problem is your view of the issue. an attorney would just be a waste of your money.

btw, to those posting advice in general, i definitely appreciate the advice, but try not to get caught up in feelings of resentment or in making assumptions. most posters aren't doing that, but a few are and the overall effect is to obscure useful advice. i'm looking for matter-of-fact, emotion-free advice if possible.

regarding the legalities: i've actually spoken to a family member who is a labor attorney, and although this isn't an employment situation, a lot of the laws apply. basically, he told me to keep recording for now. vvv

let me clarify- there is nothing illegal/discriminatory in the behavior that you have described.

i don't know the specifics of the flirting behavior but "sexual harassment, is [color=#0645ad]intimidation, [color=#0645ad]bullying or [color=#0645ad]coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors" unless this is taking place, there is no sexual harassment, the male student is an adult, and it's his responsibility to do something about it, not yours.

and as far as illegal discriminatory behavior- did you get denied acceptance to the program based on age or gender? no. are you getting poor performance marks based on your age or gender? no- as you stated, you are getting high a's.

no, what's happening is you feel you are entitled to more respect/preferential treatment because you have all these other degrees. you stated you think you should have been more open to instructors and students about "what and who you are" especially relative to other classmates. that right there tells me you think you are better than other students and think that if they knew all your previous degrees, they would automatically give you more respect.

one instructor was rude and discouraged you from asking questions. two pay more attention to a male student. this is not discrimination, nor is it illegal. i've attached the age discrimination in employment act. maybe it will help you realize that you are not experiencing discrimination. http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/adea.cfm

no, there are no legal grounds for you to go on. you can talk to the instructors about there behavior, but i suspect it would only make things worse. you can keep quiet and earn respect like the other students. or, you can leave the program and go to another school.

This is not the situation.

What this boils down to is that you're behaving like an entitled, self-righteous blowhard, people don't like you because of it and are treating you accordingly, but now you're whining and playing victim. Nothing illegal is going on from what you described. Stop acting like this and that should solve all these problems. I'll warn you that if you don't, you won't get anywhere at all in nursing.

Can you give some specifics about why you feel you are being discriminated against? Maybe it would help us understand better. You have not said anything that points to age discrimination. Instead you've provided us with lots of info about your background that really is irrelevant to nursing school.

Can you tell us how the instructor was rude to you? What was said?

One person in my clinical group used to hate being criticized and swore the instructor had it in for her if you listened to her tell her story. What I saw was constructive criticism when she messed up yet she felt the instructor was belittling her. So sometimes its a misunderstanding or some people just being too sensitive.

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