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.
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."
Appreciation for a System - The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog