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The Weak Student

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Carpediem1012 has 7 years experience as a BSN, RN.

1 Article; 7,872 Profile Views; 315 Posts

What do you do when there is a weak student in your clincial group? I am very much a team player. I like my colleagues, depend on them to sound things off, and support them as well. But what about the weak student? The one that makes you think they could be unsafe? Where do you draw the line? I love to work with others, but when does patient safety and my own liability become more important. I guess I know the answer to that, but it feels wrong to "leave someone behind".

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367 Posts; 4,183 Profile Views

You are not responsible for determining another student is up to standards, your instructor is. If you have a specific concern that this student is doing something in an unsafe way you should step in and say something certainly, but unless this student is doing medications and procedures by him/herself, which would be a whole different issue, the instructor or RN the student is working with would undoubtedly step in if the student was being unsafe. If you just have a feeling the student is not as advanced as the rest of your group, you could always offer to help him/her practice skills or study if you are concerned.

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739 Posts; 8,142 Profile Views

It is not your responsibility to watch over or even instruct other students...that is why your instructor is there. I understand you want to help (and I think that is great), but maybe this is something you should bring up to your clinical instructor. And especially if you are seeing something unsafe, you certainly shouldn't feel bad for speaking up. The patient's safety comes first. Just go to the instructor out of concern and not to bash the student.

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Carpediem1012 has 7 years experience as a BSN, RN.

1 Article; 315 Posts; 7,872 Profile Views

Thank you for your replies. The instructor is aware, and in fact asked my opinion on this student. I do feel he/she is unsafe in the sense that there is no personal accountability taken by this person. This person plays the victim. And nothing is their fault. I have shared notes and mentored this person and I truly believe they are not on the right track. I guess I'm just sad because I hate to see someone unsuccessful. I do not believe, however that patients are safe in this persons' care. I have said as much to the instructor. I guess I have done what I can. Still feel bad.

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200 Posts; 4,999 Profile Views

You sound like a very caring person. I don't think there is much more you can do. Quite honestly though, I think it was pretty unprofessional for your instructor to talk to fellow students re: the proficiency of another student.

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Carpediem1012 has 7 years experience as a BSN, RN.

1 Article; 315 Posts; 7,872 Profile Views

Fair enough. He was just asking my opinion of this student though. I think that's fair in the context of how we feel about working with other members of our team. As soon to be RNs, we do need to be aware and proactive about patient safety. I think he is just seeing what sort of take we have on both leadership, and our own accountability. I do not believe there was anything unprofessional about his inquiry.

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TheNGTKingRN specializes in General Surgery.

208 Posts; 4,702 Profile Views

Fair enough. He was just asking my opinion of this student though. I think that's fair in the context of how we feel about working with other members of our team. As soon to be RNs, we do need to be aware and proactive about patient safety. I think he is just seeing what sort of take we have on both leadership, and our own accountability. I do not believe there was anything unprofessional about his inquiry.

It was still unprofessional and the fact remains that you are not a registered nurse, much less a nursing professor. If the professor is relying on his students to evaluate other students, than your own professor is unsafe. The professor should be relying on the input of other registered nurses and faculty. The fact remains that you're a student and have zero ability to evaluate another student. The fact remains the professor approached this the wrong way. The fact remains that rather than talk about the students abilities with other students, the professor should be discussing evaluations and deficiencies with the student and appropriate staff and faculty. That's the bottom line.

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icuRNmaggie has 24 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in MICU, SICU, CICU.

1,970 Posts; 25,244 Profile Views

You are morally and ethically obligated to report something that you personally witness that could be detrimental to a patient.

Other than that, it is not your place to comment on another student's abilities.

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90 Posts; 1,860 Profile Views

I want to preface this as the point of view from a current student in clinical rotation. To the OP: what about this student makes you feel like they're "unsafe"? Also, how does that translate into your thoughts on their strengths vs. weaknesses? (Thus your statement that they're somehow a weak student).

And "weaker" than whom? I'm saying this because although the other posters so far are jumping on the instructor.... it seems as if the instructor may have been testing YOU.

If you feel like this other student is "weaker" it probably has come out in your attitude (whether you'd like to admit that or not) toward your classmate. Did you stop to wonder why your instructor would ask you about another student's abilities? Clinical instructors are amazing at seeing the "unseen". Your apprehension towards this other student has probably been read & has now been clarified.

Think about it from an instructors standpoint...how do you have enough time to assess anyone else? Are your patients taken care of? Just be wary now of what you're saying & doing. You have to be "above the curve" if you're going to make statements about another persons practice techniques.

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Carpediem1012 has 7 years experience as a BSN, RN.

1 Article; 315 Posts; 7,872 Profile Views

I have to admit, I am somewhat confused with some of the responses. Maybe I am not clearly relating the experience. We are in our last acute setting rotation. We are expected to "look at the bigger picture" and our role in it. I think it may be short sighted to say that we need to be so busy with our on patients that we are not aware of what's going on around us. Situational awareness is a big part of our evaluation.

The student is aware that they are in trouble and has come to me for help. The instructor is aware of this. I have no doubt i am being "tested" as well, in my ability to support, but also to know when to say something to this instructor.

I am a very strong student and do plan to continue on in my education which will involve teaching. I am being encouraged to think about these issues and expected to contemplate them. This is not an experience unique to this clinical rotation.

The reason for this post was so that I might gain insight into others' experiences and I appreciate the comments. It has surprised me a bit, but that's a good thing- I like the perspective I have gained from this conversation, despite the fact that it is contrary to what I thought I might hear.

I think I will use this topic for my clincial reflection. I would hate to think I am simply acting superior to this student. That is certainly not my intent.

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10 Posts; 784 Profile Views

I have been in your position before, and I agree with all the comments posted so far. It is very obvious that you are caring, and you want to see everyone succeed in your group. It hurts to see someone struggle. You want to help. And you feel awful if you don't and just let them continue to fail. I had someone similar in my group, who kept saying the catheter goes into the vagina and was on the verge of failing. I volunteered 3 hours one day to help that student practice for our catheter sign off. I continued to support her and she passed that test, but ultimately failed the program. What I'm trying to say is that, you can help all you want and can, but ultimately it is up to the instructor's discretion on whether or not the person is fit for the program. All groups have that "weak student", and the best thing you can do is just try to help.

On the other side of the coin, I have found it frustrating to be helping someone who is struggling and then having that person be ungrateful and turn their cheek to me, as if they never knew me. And at that point (without trying to sound too harsh), sometimes you just accept that some people aren't meant for nursing, like how some aren't meant for law/business/graphic design/etc, and unfortunately sometimes it's not til the very end that they realize this.

Best thing that I think anyone can do for that student is just to either be neutral or be supportive. Never be demeaning to another student. Idk if it's because my cohort is 90% female or what, but I've seen heard some pretty demeaning and unpleasant comments made by some of my classmate towards another student, and that helps absolutely no one. We can get pretty aggressive with each other, esp being in a nursing program with all the stress and such.

Be supportive, you sound like a great classmate, but don't beat yourself up or feel responsible if that person is failing. Like the others have said, it is up to the instructor to decide on their performance, not you. And of course, if you witness something that can harm the patient, let your instructor know!

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windsurfer8 has 10 years experience and specializes in Med Surg/Psych.

1,264 Posts; 11,061 Profile Views

The issue is a RN who has been working for 10 years may feel you are "unsafe"...however you may argue you are new and learning. What credentials do you have to determine if someone is "unsafe"? As a nursing student one important role is to understand what you are able to actually determine is "unsafe." What does that even mean? Are you talking infection control? Are you talking med errors? If you have a concern you use your chain of command and express your concerns. You may not be correct in what you as a student feel is "unsafe." You say you are a "strong" student. What does that mean? Straight As? That does not mean anyone who is not straight As is "unsafe". Be VERY careful with words you use to describe others in the workplace. Instead of vague words like "unsafe" which means NOTHING....give specific examples of situations to your head nurse and/or instructor and let them make a determination if a student needs assistance. It is good to be perceptive, but how you go about dealing with situations professionally is very important.

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