Nursing insturctor terrifying students


  • Specializes in LTC. Has 5 years experience.

My daughter is a sophmore in high school. She is enrolled in the biomed. academy at her school and most of what she is learning is geared toward becoming a nurse. Her instructor is a retired nurse and takes great joy in making her students feel inadequate and afraid of becoming nurses. My daughter comes home from school several times a week upset to the point of wanting to drop out of this program. This week the instructor told her she is unteachable and that if she does manage to graduate nursing school and make it into the field, "We will weed you out!". This was while she was attempting to teach my daughters group to do blood pressures and my daughter couldn't hear the B/P. I showed her how to take a B/P and she has no problem with it now. I don't understand this womans way of thinking... Why would you attempt to frighten high school students out of entering a field that they want to be in. The kids in this program are coming out of Jr. High knowing what career they want to be in and working towards it all thru high school. When my daughter graduates from high school, she will have a AA in Science. These kids are ambitious and driven so why would a teacher try to derail them? Any suggestions on what I should say to this teacher/retired nurse when I speak to her?

Emergency RN

544 Posts

Specializes in ED, CTSurg, IVTeam, Oncology. Has 30 years experience.

IMHO, instead of writing this here, I would suggest that by informing or complaining to the program that employs her, it would be a lot more productive. As the parent of a high school student, you should have a hell of a LOT of say over the quality of education that your child receives, and most schools usually bend over backwards to investigate parental complaints. I suggest you also write a letter to your local board of education, too.

As for the instructor, this kind of belittling drill sergeant attitude may have been the way that she herself received training back in the boot camp styled nursing schools of the 1930's. But thankfully we've come a long way; we've learn to communicate effectively not only with our patients, but also with our peers, subordinates and the public at large.

Unfortunately, there are some people in the world who can't feel good about themselves unless they make others feel bad. It has nothing to do with nursing, but rather is a character issue with some people and can be in any field or calling. If this is the instructor's style of teaching, then perhaps this retired "nurse" needs to be put out to pasture too.

Tell your daughter good luck, and I wish her a long successful nursing career ;)


48 Posts

Specializes in LTC. Has 5 years experience.

I wrote this here to get some insight from MY peers. I'm a nurse too. I'm not just some schmoe who jumped on allnurses to complain about my daughters NURSING instructor. I thought I might get some helpful replies as to why some nurses like to see their young fail.

babyNP., APRN

1,921 Posts

Specializes in NICU. Has 15 years experience.

Are you a nurse? Haven't you ever had this experience? I wouldn't be so surprised, as I've had my own share at school. I came out of it telling myself I would NEVER treat anyone the way I've been treated at times by fellow nurses while in clinicals and I go out of my way to help out nursing students who may be visiting my unit and do some teaching about my specialty.

Definitely second Emergency's advice, though.

edit: why do some nurses like to eat their young? I have absolutely no idea. I suggest that you do a search. Dunno if that will help out your daughter though.


1,987 Posts

At first I thought you were referring to university students, not high school. This is very wrong. I wanted to go into PT since 8th grade. I went into an athletic training program in HS to prepare for college. The coach who determined who was going to stay and who was going to go relished his position of lording over students. Long story short, he told me that I'd never make it and it took me a long time to discover my lost confidence which is essential at that age.

As the OP said, I'd write to whoever employs this person. I'd even say that she has confidence issues herself and she enjoys picking on those who are under her.

I'm so sorry this is happening to your daughter.


1,246 Posts

Has 36 years experience.

Go directly to her boss. But, first, have your complaints in a list that you can refer to. Get anecdotal evidence from as many students as you can, and maybe speak with some other parents. These are still children, after all, not adults.

She may be an excellent nurse, but that does not mean she is a good teacher for teenagers.

Best wishes!

BTW - - I was told TWICE to rethink my choice of a career! Once as a freshman when the unexpected odor of vomitus made me throw up in the patient's wastecan, and again as a senior when I rebelled about all the ICU info we were being taught. I went on to work in ICUs and acute care for much of my career.....! And my mother was originally horrified that I wanted to be a nurse - "Why do you want to get your hands dirty?"

Best wishes to your daughter!!!


56 Posts

I am pretty fresh out of nursing school and unfortunately it seems to be a common failure of nursing schools. They think "old school" that frightening us will toughen us up. Although I do not agree with this strategy I understand the logic of it. Many students have no idea what being a nurse involves and that you have to have tough skin, but especially in the scenario you described, where she is not even in nursing school yet, this is crazy, especially in an era where we need more nurses and we are all working overtime like crazy!

Flare, ASN, BSN

5 Articles; 4,431 Posts

Specializes in school nursing, ortho, trauma.

The instructor probably won't change her manner of thinking. I suggest your daughter chalk this up as one of those life lessons meant to thicken her skin against the people in the real would that will try to chop her down.

Your daughter is lucky to have a resource in her own home to get extra instruction and clarification. Imagine how the students that are treated the same way but don't have a nurse parent to go home to must feel.

When you speak o her ask her about her philosophy in teaching. Is she the sink or swim type? Is she the type that once she sees failure she assumes it is permanent and that success will never come?

It's unfair to expect that a 15 yo student in high school would pick up the concepts the first time around. That type of learning comes with patience and maturity. Heck, I know 40 year old students incapable of picking up seemingly basic concepts. I don't think that the determination as to whether a person would be weeded out of the nursing profession can realistically be made when they are still a child.

classicdame, MSN, EdD

2 Articles; 7,255 Posts

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

Determing why she is a schmuck will not benefit your daughter. I would either talk to the teacher's supervisor or have the students do it. She is teaching them a really hard lesson - we cannot change the world but we do not have to let the world change us.

Otessa, BSN, RN

1,601 Posts

Has 19 years experience.
I wrote this here to get some insight from MY peers. I'm a nurse too. I'm not just some schmoe who jumped on allnurses to complain about my daughters NURSING instructor. I thought I might get some helpful replies as to why some nurses like to see their young fail.

I think it is quite valid for the first responder to your post to state that you should go to those that can truly change this(writing letters, contacting the school). It is hard to say why this particular nursing instructor is choosing to scare her students-there are many reasons-inferiority complex, etc.


88 Posts

Specializes in ICU, ED, Trauma, Transplant. Has 8 years experience.

Right after I graduated high school, I took a job at a business owned by a nurse. I thought I had it made, the job was indoors and comfortable, and I mistakenly assumed that I would be working for someone who might support MY aspirations of becoming a nurse as well.

I was never trained appropriately by the owner (who wanted every single task done a certain way), but rather by two other employees that didn't really care about training me well. They'd give me conflicting information and confuse me. And it was no surprise that I did everything completely wrong. It didn't help that the cash registers would malfunction, causing my til to be off every night. I wouldn't argue with anyone who said I was a lousy hire (I was only 16 with no work experience, after all!) but what I experienced was off the charts inappropriate.

Because of these mistakes, I would get reprimanded by the owner right in front of customers and co-workers. And it was mean stuff too, from, "Do you need your eyes examined?” to “Did you take special classes in school or something?” Right in front of people! And I thought she was just being terrible on purpose, because she knew that I was a bright kid and I graduated high school early. Her behavior just made me clam up and I'd mess up even more.

She'd boast about how easy nursing school was for her and how she was a "born nurse". She said I'd only make it if I was "wiser and more mature". Her very helpful advice was, "Grow up and try to get smarter, then you can try applying to nursing school." She'd tell me if my performance there at that job was any indication as to what kind of nurse I'd be, I shouldn't even try. She would tell me many times and in many ways that I would struggle throughout a nursing career due to my stupidity.

I ended up getting fired after a few months for incompetence (big surprise!), but I got the last laugh. A few months after I was fired, the place went out of business. I heard from one of my favorite co-workers there that the owner had to go grovel to get her old job in order to work off the huge mountain of debt accumulated from the failed business.

But the best part of the story is that I never listened to her. I listened to my parents (who had no idea I was treated like that until afterwards) and my friends and everyone else who told me that they thought I'd be a good nurse. I ended up graduating from nursing school a few years after that, and I think I'm doing okay! I think my story is a good example of how you should listen only to supportive people who really care about you and NOT people who just seemed get pleasure about of making you miserable. For your daughter to be admitted into a techincal school like hers can only mean she's smart and very capable of going down any path she wants to.


184 Posts

Specializes in ED. Has 7 years experience.
I wrote this here to get some insight from MY peers. I'm a nurse too. I'm not just some schmoe who jumped on allnurses to complain about my daughters NURSING instructor. I thought I might get some helpful replies as to why some nurses like to see their young fail.

I've been to a couple of CE classes on "Nurses Who Eat Their Young." I'm not sure what point it really serves. Most of us are out there trying to do the right thing. She's just an example of the older way of thinking...if you toughen them up, they will be stronger. That kind of thing. Nowadays, most nurses don't behave that way. Fortunately your daughter has you. Be an advocate for her and her fellow students, contact the school.