Why are nursing instructors so intimidating?

  1. Why do nursing instructors feel the need to be so intimidating and humiliating? I am really struggling with this in my nursing class. Is there a good reason for this that I am just not getting yet?

    I was in a BSN program prior to LPN school, and those instructors were the same way. So I hoped that maybe it was just RN instructors that were that way, and maybe LPN instructors would be different. WRONG!

    My instructors have pushed students to the point of tears, yell at students right in front of the nurses station, not to mention in front of classmates. Seriously these women will question you until they find something that you don't know the answer to and pounce on you like a freakin pit bull and make you feel like a total idiot for not knowing what your patient's RBC count was ten years ago.

    I mean really, we are STUDENTS! Why does it have to be this way? I just don't get it.

    This attitude from my instructors has really ruined my clinical experience, and makes me dread every single clinical day.

    I have serious doubts about returning to school to get my RN, and am seriously thinking about going into another field entirely. I just can't deal with such a negative learning environment.
  2. Visit beeenieweeenie, RN profile page

    About beeenieweeenie, RN, ADN

    Joined: Dec '06; Posts: 35; Likes: 10


  3. by   NewStudentGirly
    If you really want to be a nurse, don't let them get you down. Keep in mind that yes, they can be intimidating and probably even mean (I have heard a lot of stories about that) but at the same time, they don't know everything, they are not better than you, and maybe they are trying to scare off the people they think can't hack it. You can do it! Prove them wrong and show them them that you are not going to crack under pressure. BTW imho instructors should not be yelling at students, it's unprofessional and uncalled for.
  4. by   rnmomtobe2010
    To weed out the weak...Only the strong will survive....
  5. by   Daytonite
    Question. . .why didn't you know what your patient's RBC count was ten years ago? Did it turn out that it was an important thing to have to have known? If so, then who should rightfully be upset here, the instructor because the student didn't do a thorough and appropriate assessment or the student because they failed to realize the importance of realizing how assessing the prior labwork was going to figure into learning critical thinking skills?

    I understand that you were emotionally upset, but what did you learn about assessing patients--anything at all?
  6. by   hotpotato101
    Well i think because some Instructors are so full of themselves. they feel like they're the greatest of all just because they are license holders and the students are not. best thing to do is dont let their insecurities bother you. think about the reason why you are in the classroom and dont waste your time on them.
  7. by   missjennmb
    Here's how I've come to see it (I even have a post around here somewhere asking why they have to be so negative during orientation). We are responsible for people's LIVES once we walk out that door, and so every student they graduate, they are partly responsible for. If the instructors graduate students who are not exceptional, or let potentially exceptional students do less than their very best, then the resulting nurse is in part, their fault, for not pushing them harder/weeding them out.

    Or maybe we're kind of like their children... some parents use positive reinforcement to try to get their children to succeed, and others use the paddle...but they both have our best interests at heart.

    Just try to focus on getting past it. I know its harder done than said, and I can't imagine what I will do if my teacher yells at me like a child, (atleast I cant imagine what I would do other than get myself kicked out for putting them in their place). Tough spot to be in. I hope my NIs are not like that. I have a pretty brutal math teacher who is quite.... grumpy I guess you would say, but I just pick on him and it seems to soften him up. They're just people too, so getting through to..or atleast understanding... the person behind the teacher-shield can go along way towards making things more tolerable.
  8. by   lindsey.erin
    Someone said it's to weed out the weak and as callous as that sounds, it's probably true. My instructors...well, actually just one of them. But she was SUCH a bull the first semester. Everyone dreaded coming back from lunch because her classes were in the afternoon. And we held our breath when it came to clinical assignments because no one wanted to be put with her for the longest rotation. Then the second semester came around and we noticed she lightened up a smidge (small smidge!), but then the third and final semester came around and she actually turned out to be really great. The second to the last week of class, she actually told us that that's how she does it. She is a bull the first semester to weed out the people who don't want it enough or just aren't ready. She said that we are going to deal with some real pains in the work field and that was her way of preparing us for it and making sure we could handle just about anything people threw at us.

    And you know, her plan worked. The first semester, we lost eight people. Half of them dropped out within the first week (one after orientation!).

    Please don't let it get to you. If you can survive this class, just think of how strong you will be once you enter the field to start working! No one will be able to intimidate you.
  9. by   beeenieweeenie, RN
    Well I guess I just didn't realize that a ****** attitude was required for nursing.

    I always thought that the weeding out was to get rid of the people that were deemed unlikely to pass NCLEX.

    And yes, I realize we are responsible for people's lives. However, being intimidating and yelling at me is absolutely not required for me to realize the importance of what I'm doing.

    I want to learn the best way to take care of my patient for the patient's sake. When I get an instructor that likes to yell and bully students, my only motivation at that point is to do just enough to pass, because nothing you do is good enough to please these types. So what happens when you got the license and the teacher isn't on your back anymore? Poor nursing care, we see it all the time.

    I just did clinicals on a med surg floor and we were always there for morning report. In the entire time we were there, only twice did I see a nurse listen to the patient's breath sounds in her am assessment. A few times there were nurses that didn't even see the patient at all until time to give meds.

    Something is broken somewhere.
  10. by   uglyrunt
    Don't quit beeenieweeenie.
    You obviously care about your patients and
    the patients need caring observant nurses like you.
  11. by   Daytonite
    Quote from beeenieweeenie
    when i get an instructor that likes to yell and bully students, my only motivation at that point is to do just enough to pass, because nothing you do is good enough to please these types. so what happens when you got the license and the teacher isn't on your back anymore? poor nursing care, we see it all the time. . .something is broken somewhere.
    please! read on. i have answers for you.

    when i get an instructor that likes to yell and bully students, my only motivation at that point is to do just enough to pass, because nothing you do is good enough to please these types.
    doing just enough to pass just to please a misbehaving instructor sounds very childish. we used to do this with my mom who was a belt wielding authoritarian. is doing just enough to pass because your instructors who gave you emotional grief a legacy you want others to know about you and your school? is that what you are going to blame when you make nursing errors at work? is that how you are going to pass the buck? do you know how many people are actually going to sympathize with you when you use that as an excuse for your shortcomings as a professional nurse? -0-

    so what happens when you got the license and the teacher isn't on your back anymore? poor nursing care, we see it all the time.
    i was a manager. if i was sitting down and giving you any kind of evaluation and you told me that the reason you were not as good as you could be was because you had an instructor in school who used to yell and bully you so your only motivation was to do enough to pass and you just didn't learn as much as you should of i would be kicking myself for wrongly determining at your hiring that you (1) were capable of professional development (2) flexible and were able to adapt to the situation you were in (3) had the ability to learn from your mistakes (4) lacked a positive attitude (5) failed to take responsibility for your own failure, and (6) lacked initiative. i would (a) have to decide if i wanted to rehabilitate you in order for you to keep the job which required that you needed to do some learning, but an employer's job is not to provide you with what you should have learned in school, or (b) consider cutting our losses (terminating you) eventually because the cost of the mistakes you are going to make is too great.
    i'm not excusing the behavior of your instructors. i abhor it and think its wrong. i never treated an orientee like that in my life. but i had a mother who was a strict authoritarian (she threatened and used a belt on us many times unfairly) and one real witch of a professor in the bsn program that i went through. and, after all that education this is what i can tell you: these are behaviors that effect your emotions and self-esteem. they effect your learning only if you are looking for an excuse to explain poor grades or poor performance. that's failing to take responsibility. you may fool some people, but i see what you are doing. don't sell yourself short. you can still learn what has to be learned despite mean instructors. there are plenty of examples in the world of people who overcame negativity in their lives to become champions and leaders in their fields. but you have to have a positive attitude and initiative, flexibility, look for alternative sources of help (allnurses has a lot of help for students), and learn how to profit from your mistakes.

    i am not being mean here. i am trying to show you something about yourself that can make a big difference in how you are viewing this situation and how you can come out successfully at the end. don't you see nursing school is all about you and you are making it all about them (the instructors). get your head on straight and get your focus shifted and pointed in the right direction here. let the instructors walk their path whatever and however messed up it seems and you walk and stay on yours. both your paths cross/mingle for the next months and then separate. find common ground between you and respect their boundaries.
    Last edit by Daytonite on Jul 30, '08
  12. by   beeenieweeenie, RN
    I'm sorry but I disagree with you. Everyone learns differently. Some people are motivated with intimidation tactics, some are not. We don't treat all of our patients the same, what works for one may not be effective for a different patient.

    There is a healthy level of anxiety that is good because it makes you study a little harder, read that procedure a few extra times, etc. Many nursing instructors take that way too far and it really just doesn't help at all and makes things way more stressful than they have to be.
  13. by   Daytonite
    And I'm not disagreeing with you, but some students who are spoon fed and coddled will end up failing because they needed instructors who offered more control. You almost never hear anyone who fails complain that they weren't pushed harder to do better, do you? That's because this is all an emotional and judgmental issue. We are quick to dismiss the actions of someone we perceive as "nice" and condemn those who come across to us as tough or unfeeling.
  14. by   leslie :-D
    i think we all have war stories about some of our instructors.

    in hindsight, i even appreciated the battleaxes.

    it was good prep/forewarning in what the real world was comprised of.