Dear Nurse Beth,
I'm a student nurse and am in the last semester of nursing school. I'm a lot older than most students where I go to school; often over a decade and a half and its been eye-opening experience seeing how the younger generation are learning today. I work very hard to achieve my grades and when I'm in clinical, simulation lab, and skills lab (where I need the most help in obtaining experience).
I find my instructors want me to help the other students who are freezing during procedures, not being able to do proper and through focused assessments, or even helping them explain to the patient about devices in their prescribed care; like chest tubes, incentive spirometers, etc. I have to also add that I have over 18 years experience in corporate business so my business acumen is professional, dedicated, and always prepared.
With that being said, I'm not getting the growth from my level that one would expect which is building my weaknesses so when I go into preceptorship and then a job as a new RN grad, I'm not eaten up on how some of my skills are (which some are kinda so-so). I'm frustrated because I work really hard and have to help others with their weaknesses but when it comes to my growth the teachers don't even help me achieve improvements. I've communicated this on several occasions and it never changes. It's very frustrating.
Has anyone experienced this? Do you have any guidance?
Congrats on being in last semester!
It's not uncommon for instructors to ask students who are competent to help a fellow student in the classroom or in a return demonstration situation. That's because it helps the instructor keep the class on track and get through on time. It also helps the student who is selected to help, because explaining to someone else hardwires the learning for the "teacher". It's the old "Watch one, do one, teach one".
Since you're in last semester, it sounds like this is happening not in the classroom but in the clinical setting, which throws a different spin on it. Is your clinical instructor stretched too thin, and relying on you, her best student, to fill in? When you are asked to do this, I take it you are saying "Yes"? At the point of being asked, have you considered saying "I'm sorry, I'm not able to right now, because my patient is being discharged and I want to learn how to do a discharge". This puts your learning needs first.
Likewise, you have to speak up clearly when you need help. This will continue to be important when you work as a new grad. You say this is age-related, and it could be, in that the younger generation is transparent about their learning needs, while some of the older generation value appearing competent over asking for help.
Practice asking for help, especially when you are performing a procedure for the first or second time. "I've already been checked off inserting a Foley, and I'd like to review it with you one more time to make sure I'm doing it correctly". You will get the support you need.
Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!