Last night, my first class of nursing students graduated. It was a momentous and beautiful moment that really got me pondering the challenges and triumphs of being a nursing instructor. I decided to sit down and write out all of the things I wish my students could know, so without further fanfare…
1. Our greatest wish is for you to succeed.
It is a common misnomer that nursing instructors have it out for students. We really try to give you all of the tools you will need to become successful. It pains us greatly when you fail.
2. No, we cannot be friends.
Right now, I cannot be your friend. I am here to help shape you into a conscientious, critically thinking nurse. I would be doing a grave disservice to you (and possibly, your future patients), if I am easy on you. My job is to teach you and evaluate you on the concepts and skills that you have learned. One day we may be peers and that relationship will be different but right now, I have a job to do. I promise it does not mean that I do not like you.
3. Everyone has a unique and often difficult story.
I know that you work full time during the day, your car can barely make it here, and there is no one to watch your child. My heart really does go out to you, and I will help you in any way that I can for you to be successful. If you put 100% in in my class, and I know it may be hard, I will always be in your corner.
4. Respect is earned and reciprocated.
You are going into a noble, yet physically and psychologically difficult profession. Take it seriously. Take nursing school seriously. Respect your peers, respect your patients, respect your nursing instructors. It is a two way street with me, and I will hold you to your side. Insubordination is absolutely, unequivocally never okay, ever.
5. I see you texting.
Listen, if it is a special circumstance and you absolutely need to text or call, that’s fine- outside my classroom. You may use your phones for research purposes not involving texting, Snap Chat, Instagram, Kik, Facebook, etc.. I know sitting still for often three and a half hours is difficult and tiring, but please save the texting and phone surfing for your break.
6. Do not bother to cheat.
I am a mother of boys, I have eyes in the back of my head. Aside from that, you can’t cheat the NCLEX or for that matter, life. Just don’t do it. If I catch you, and there is a good chance I will, you will be expelled. It’s not worth it, besides, you do have it in you to pass the right way.
7. Please ask me questions.
I am here to tell you what you need to know, and if I do not immediately have an answer, write it on the board and I will find out for you. It’s my pleasure to answer your questions and explain the rationale as to why we do things the way we do in nursing. Thinking like a nurse isn’t easy, it is often a process and I am here to help you discover that process and help guide you to the other side, so to speak.
8. I will ask you questions.
I will absolutely ask you questions at random, often in the middle of lecture. Why? I want to know if you understand the information, and if not, I want to facilitate your discovery of that knowledge. It’s not because I want to embarrass you, or make you look foolish. I want to see and hear that you are learning.
9. I will hold you to the outlined academic program standards.
Please don’t ask me to not mark you late, or give you extra points when you haven’t worked towards them. It is not fair to the students who are on time and who turn in their work on time. Also, when you are in uniform, I expect you to abide by the program’s rules that you signed: no jewelry, no nail polish, hair up off the collar, white shoes. Yes, I check. Do not leave the unit floor unless I give you permission, and do not disappear behind the nurse’s station. You need to be with your patients unless otherwise specified. I notice when you are not back on time and where you need to be. Turn in your assignments on time and without a story. Do what is outlined in your program contract and you will be all right with me.
10. I was once you.
Yes, it may seem like 1000 years ago (actually, twenty), but I went through the very same program and had the same concerns, complaints, and stressors that many of you do. I get it. Because of this I am secretly cheering and rooting for you. I am really in your corner. When you do well on your test, I am happy for you, when you pass my class, I am ecstatic, and when you graduate, I am overjoyed for you. Words cannot express how wonderful it is to see my students on their very first day, scared and hopeful and to see them all the way through their journey. It is the best form of compensation, ever. When I see my students graduate, I see shades of what is to come- glimmers of the next wonderful generation of nurses in a sea of white caps, all smiles as they venture out into the amazing, yet intimidating world of nursing.
My students, I only wish for you to succeed and accomplish all of the goals you set out to. I believe in you, I know you can do it!
Your nursing instructor.