Jump to content

Was my professor out of line?

My professor told me some things during a discussion that has really bothered me and I just wanted to get others' opinions on this. I had a meeting with her because I was struggling in class. She asked me what my priorities are and I said #1 is my husband and kids and #2 is nursing school. She was not happy with my answer and said I need to move nursing up on my priority list, meaning nursing school should come first and not my family. I have 2 young kids and they and my husband will always be number one no matter what, and I told her that. She seemed displeased with my answer and said school will only be 2 years of my life. Anyways, ever since I went against what she thought my priorities should be, she has treated me differently. Should I be putting nursing ahead of my family? Nursing is a very high priority to me, but nothing is more important than being there for my family. I don't know if she started treating me differently because she thinks I don't care or the fact that I did not budge on something I feel very strongly about.

Another thing that has been bothering me. I had a discussion with her about how I was having difficulty balancing my family life with nursing and that I felt guilty about not spending as much time with my kids. After I said that she asked if I was Catholic. I said no, why do you ask. She said she asked that because I seem to carry around a lot guilt. I was really shocked by this. I don't understand why she would ask me about my religion in the first place and how does it have anything to do with being Catholic?! Am I looking at this wrong or were her remarks inappropriate?

FloridaGatorRN

Specializes in Intensive Care.

They were very innapropriate as is her treatment of you. I would address it up the chain of command at your school. You deserve an environment that is conducive to the learning experience.

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.

I think her inquiry about whether you were Catholic was a tad bit inappropriate.

However, do not take this wrong: in some instances we must tell people what they want to hear. Some self-righteous folks may want to shout me down for my views. However, total honesty is not always the best policy.

People, such as your instructor, claim to want the truth. However, they cannot always handle the truth in an unbiased manner. Your instructor wanted to hear that school was your number one priority.

Perhaps your instructor heard your response and has twisted it to fit her inner narrative. Many people who hear that school is second on your priority list might be thinking, "Hell, then she must not really care if she flunks out."

Here's a dirty little secret: adults with families who return to school shift their priorities all the time, and the kids are not damaged because of it. Many people increase the amount of time they spend on school and decrease the amount of time they spend with spouses and children. It is a temporary shift, and things return to equilibrium once school ends.

Good luck to you.

So, you were meeting with a professor because you're struggling with class, and she *gasp!* suggested that you make school your priority?! Outrageous! No, but seriously... IMO, she was giving you good advice - if you're struggling because you're stretching yourself too thin and prioritizing non-school related activities, then it would be logical to suggest that you shift your priorities (temporarily) while in school. I assume you were asking for her advice on how to succeed with school, and she offered you a perfectly reasonable opinion.

As far as introducing religion into the conversation, well, here I think she was out of line. It's none of her business which religion, if any, you are affiliated with, and certainly none of her business to offer her personal opinion about it (assuming she was not asked for her opinion on that topic).

If you are struggling and want to finish nursing school and become a nurse, you and your family need to all make sacrifices. Otherwise, stay in everyone's comfort zone, relax with your family, and let nursing slip away.

Of course, your kids will see your example.

She's treating you like this because nursing is a very demanding profession. Some people will always have different opinions than yours. You need to choose what your priorities are.

So, you were meeting with a professor because you're struggling with class, and she *gasp!* suggested that you make school your priority?! Outrageous! No, but seriously... IMO, she was giving you good advice - if you're struggling because you're stretching yourself too thin and prioritizing non-school related activities, then it would be logical to suggest that you shift your priorities (temporarily) while in school. I assume you were asking for her advice on how to succeed with school, and she offered you a perfectly reasonable opinion.

As far as introducing religion into the conversation, well, here I think she was out of line. It's none of her business which religion, if any, you are affiliated with, and certainly none of her business to offer her personal opinion about it (assuming she was not asked for her opinion on that topic).

I did not ask for her advice on any of those things I mentioned. I did bad on a test, she said come to my office, and asked me those questions. Also, as I mentioned, school is my priority, but I am not going to put my children lower on my priority list. Never, ever in any situation. As a mother also, I would think she would respect and understand my dilemma. Would you mind keeping the condescending undertones to a minimum? I truly would like honest opinions that can be given in a respectful manner.

She's treating you like this because nursing is a very demanding profession. Some people will always have different opinions than yours. You need to choose what your priorities are.

Did you read my entire post? I have chosen my priorities. I can't have 2 number one priorities. If my child needs me, and it conflicts with school, I choose my child. You are right. People will have different opinions than me, but when my opinion is asked for, and I give it, and then told I'm wrong, what am I supposed to do? I told her I understand where she is coming from, but that being a good mother is something my children will always remember and is what will matter when I look back on my life.

Of course if your child really needs you, you'll be there. I doubt your teacher was implying that you should disregard your children's needs in order to be a nurse.

What I think she probably meant is that you shift the smaller aspects of your priorities...like nursing school should be the priority over taking your kids to a birthday party the weekend before a test, or staying up making cupcakes for a fundraiser when you have clinicals in the morning. Not so much that since you're in nursing school, your kids have to eat popcorn for dinner every night and you need to cancel their doctor's appointments, because you have to study.

It's okay to be selfish sometimes, and it sets a good example for your children to see you working hard to accomplish your goals. Even if they are too young to understand now, they'll be proud of you one day!

It's only two years, hopefully you can enlist the help of your husband, so you kids are getting what they need, even if it isn't from you!

And the Catholic thing...Catholics carrying around a lot of guilt is a stereotype. People usually use the phrase "Catholic guilt" in a tongue-in-cheek type of way. Although it may have been inappropriate, I'm pretty sure she meant it as a joke, not as a genuine inquiry about your religion. I wouldn't read into that too much.

Good luck! Don't get discouraged, just about everyone fails a few tests!

Alisonisayoshi, LVN

Specializes in LTC.

I am a wife and a mother, I agree with your instructor. Nursing school is priority one while I'm here. In doing this my children are learning the value of hard work, dedication, and education. My family has come together as a support system for me. My children have become more responsible. My husband has picked up more than his fair share of responsibility as well. All to make my goal number one. My goal is all of our priority really. It's a really short period of time for me and my needs to be the most important thing in our family. But you know what? I figured out I'd been putting myself second for way too long anyhow. It feels amazing to feel like a priority in my own life, and I plan to keep myself a priority long after nursing school is done. I don't need the world on my shoulders, my needs can come first, I'm not a martyr to my family. Putting nursing school first (translation my wants and needs) taught me that taking care of me isn't selfish, it's actually rather necessary.

The remarks about religion were out of line. I don't know what you expected of her reaction to your priorities. There is such a thing as telling a person who has the upper hand what they want to hear or saying as little as possible. Nobody said you have to practice the baloney you tell her. If her demeanor toward you bothers you that much, then, complain about her and see how that improves matters.

Edited by caliotter3

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.

If my child needs me, and it conflicts with school, I choose my child.

I'll repeat that millions of loving moms and devoted dads temporarily shift their personal priorities to their studies when they make the decision to return to school. And in the long run, millions of children love and respect their parents even more because they saw mommy/daddy make their futures a little brighter by getting an education.

We must all sacrifice something if we want to succeed. If you're willing to miss clinical practicum or perform poorly on exams so you can tend to a sick child, that's a respectable choice. However, your child will not remember the sick day 10 years from now, but you will have constant reminders of the once-promising career that never came to fruition.

We all have choices to make and sacrifices to take. Good luck!

Regarding the first part of your query, whether your instructor was out of line in suggesting that your nursing education needed to move up on your priority list: no, she was not out of line. She saw you struggling, she sees that you might not make it....heck, maybe she feels you WILL NOT make it, but believes that you could if you put more time/effort into it. Seems to me if she didn't care about the outcome on your end, there'd be no "come to my office to talk" moment.

You told her that your family was your #1 priority, and that's not unreasonable. It IS unreasonable, however, for you to expect that this response will go over well with an instructor who is making it HER priority to talk with you about how you can improve and whether you'll survive this program.

Everyone makes choices, and you are free to make yours. Just realize that your choice might not result in a good outcome in your coursework. That's simple reality: if you were in law school, you could expect the same conversation. Why should a nursing instructor be more understanding of their curriculum taking a backseat to other things any more than a law professor would?

Regarding the second part of your query, as to whether you were Catholic: I believe she was shooting for a joke ("you seem to carry around a lot of guilt") but it fell flat. No, she shouldn't have 'gone there', but I wouldn't think her evil for saying it. I don't think I would read much into it. And this is coming from a Jew ;)

Your school successes and failures rest with you. In the end, it's YOU who has to get through all of this....or not.

Good luck!

Remember, if you do become a nurse your employer will also expect you to put your job high on your priority list. That means no excessive absences for your kids, or you will face disciplinary action or possible termination. Remember, we all made sacrifices to become and remain nurses, so don't expect sympathy from us, we are too busy trying to juggle our own lives.

As far as the Catholic comment, I'll bet the bank that your instructor was raised Catholic, that's why she felt free to say that.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

I agree with most of the previous posts. Coincidentally, my colleagues at work were talking about similar problems we are having with a co-worker just the other day. She is so "into her kids" that we can't rely on her to do her fair share of work. She is losing the respect and support from her co-workers. That's bad.

At one point the conversation went like this:

1. I said: "She's totally focused on being a mommy right now -- not on doing a good job. She always puts her family first."

2. Colleague said: "Hey, I'm a mother! I put MY family first!"

3. I said: "Yes, for the big stuff. But you've also told your kids that sometimes, they have to wait because 'mommy has to work now.' She won't do that."

4. Colleague said: "You're right. Thank you for putting it that way. We all value our families, but they need to learn that I have other responsibilities, too."

That lesson might be one you, the nursing student, need to learn. As previous posters have said, being a good mother involves more than just always being there to make cookies and kiss boo-boos. It means setting a good example of a strong work ethic and being successful in school and in the workplace. Kids need those positive examples in their lives, too. Working mothers who tell their kids they have to wait, or make a few sacrifices have been successfully raising kids for generations. If that is something you want to do, then work with your family to help them make the sacrifices they will need to make for you to devote a little more time and attention to school (and eventually, to work). If you choose to not make that investment in your career, then be prepared to face whatever consequences come from making the lesser investment in your career.

As far as the Catholic comment ... I agree that she is probably Catholic, tried to make a joke, and it fell flat. Move on. It's not worth making a fuss over it. You'll be subjected to a low worse out there in the work world. Let it go -- and if you want to be successful in school, show her that you are committed enough to do a good job.

bsyrn, ASN, RN

Specializes in Peds, School Nurse, clinical instructor.

Honestly, it sounds like this might not be the right time for you to be in nursing school. Maybe when your kids are a little older...

Am I looking at this wrong or were her remarks inappropriate?

I do think her remarks were a bit over the line. However, she might be concerned for you and maybe is one of those people that doesn't express herself well. Maybe she was trying to be funny with the Catholic remark (I thought it was Jewish people who were guilt ridden??). I'm Baptist and get lots of guilt from the family. haha.

I had one of those instructors in nursing school. She was always on me. Picking me apart, giving me the evil eye. I felt she had it in for me. I sucked it up, said nothing and went to her AFTER graduation to ask her about it. She told me she was harder on me because she knew I could do better, that I just needed the extra pressure. Actually, she was right. And that pressure helped me buckle down at a time in school when I thought about quitting.

Anyway, about you. Maybe your instructor sees something? Maybe not. I agree with you about priorities. Since you are married your husband and family should stay number one. But as you've already discovered nursing school is tough. Between class & clinicals, it's really tough. Something has to give if you're going to survive. It might have to be you being super mom. I'm not being harsh, just realistic. You need to call everyone you trust: husband, friends, relatives -- everyone needs to be in your corner to help and support you and your family through this time. Don't feel bad about asking. It will take a huge burden off your shoulders if you have a plan in place for your kids if they are sick and you can't be with them. They will survive (trust me. I've been there).

If you are unwilling to do this, as others have suggested, this might be the wrong time for you to finish school. Most programs have very restrictive policies on absences and tardies for any reason. In my program we lost about 10 people due to excessive absences & tardies (some due to kids being sick, no babysitter, some for their own issues).

As others have suggested you maybe just need to make some temporary adjustments. We've all been there and know it's a huge balancing act. Stay true to yourself, keep your priorities straight and you'll be fine.

Remember this is a short-term problem which will get better as you become more and more confident in your abilities, learn to keep more balls in the air with a smile on your face and a grumble in your mind and, of course, as you finish school. There are my happy nurse platitudes for the day.

Hang in there!

Edited by TexMex22
spelling

LoriRNCM, ADN, ASN, RN

Specializes in Hospice.

the catholic comment set me back..... But the rest of it, I am thinking maybe what she means is that just temporarily, you need to put school first. In that vein, doing so means making sure there are alternate arrangements for sicknesses in the kids (coughs and colds and not major illnesses obviously), like alternate childcare so you can still make class and clinical. And maybe getting some help with the kids to spend more time studying. Surely she didn't mean that school is "more important" than the well being of your kids or that you love school more than your kids.

la_chica_suerte85, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.

Are you Catholic? Lol, what a weird question -- it smacks of social awkwardness to me.

I guess your prof was inappropriate. It doesn't seem like there was an attempt at a resolution on either side but I think that is sometimes how that goes. Here's the thing, you should probably learn discretion and what it means to be honest when it counts. Would it have really hurt you to say that nursing was your #1 priority? No, it wouldn't have. In fact, it would have at least given the idea that you are really trying and that this is of the utmost importance to you. That really probably should have been the strategy. I mean, I can say nursing is my #1 priority but to someone on the outside, it may not appear that way. But, I make it work out so that it at least looks like way -- but the reality is that I gotta balance it and ultimately, family and nursing share the #1 priority title. I gotta be on board with them so they'll be on board with me.

If the prof is treating you differently because you refuse to budge on your position, then that's how that is going to be. If you're struggling but you are saying something that to them sounds like you have limitations on how much you can give them, then what can they really do for you? They're there to work with you, not you and your family. While this is very dismissive of the prof if true, that's the reality unfortunately. If you can kind of "walk it back" and demonstrate in some way or another that you live and breathe nursing, then that might help.

psu_213, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency, Telemetry, Transplant.

If my child needs me, and it conflicts with school, I choose my child.

If you child is critically ill/injured and in the ER--I think 100% of the people here would say that you should be with you child. (Your instructor would probably agree with this too).

However, there are times when school (and later work) has to be the priority. For example, your child is performing in his/her first play. You have clinical that evening. Guess where you have to be if you want to be successful in school? It's your anniversary. The next day you have an exam. Unfortunately, you are going to have to pass up dinner with your husband. Once on the job--you are scheduled to work a holiday. You attempt to trade with someone, but there are no takers. It stinks, but you will not be there for the family get-together.

In a perfect world, family would always be #1 before school or career; however, it is just not the case. Sacrifices need to be made--and that may have been part of what your instructor was trying to tell you.

(As for the Catholic comment--not really appropriate, but I don't see much of a point in getting worked up about it.)

×

By using the site you agree to our Privacy, Cookies, and Terms of Service Policies.

OK