Nurse's Watch: Conversations on contemporary nursing,
nursing education, leadership, spirituality and blogging.
~Start date February 2010~

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A letter to my nursing instructor ...

As a nursing educator, I have watched students struggle with the numerous challenges modern day education exacts upon them. These students often have jobs, families and an abundance of responsibility, in addition to their life as a student. I watch and pray as many of them groan under the weight of all these pressures, tasks and deadlines.

Since it was not so very long ago that I was a student, I tend to feel a great deal of empathy for their plight. I find I can still see many things through the eyes of a student, even though I now peer through the lens of an educator.

In support of these aspiring nurses, many who are working diligently to attain their degree, I have written the following suggestions to nursing instructors everywhere entitled...

'A letter to my nursing instructor':

Please do not call me out in a class of thirty people and tell me I am ‘wrong, wrong, wrong’. I am an adult. In other areas of my life, I am secure and confident. People trust me and come to me for advice and assistance. In this new environment, I am insecure. Calling me out in front of others does not teach me anything except to trust you less and to take fewer chances.

It helps me when you organize yourself, your class and your time. You are the teacher; I am the student. I often juggle 12-18 hours’ worth of classes each semester, while simultaneously working a job and caring for family. If your class is well planned and organized, I am able to plan and organize my time appropriately as well. 

Give me a chance before you label me a whiner, lazy or a cheat. I realize there are students who whine. I also realize that there are lazy students and students that cheat; I am not one of them! However, you will never know this because you assume when I have a question, suggestion or complaint that I am trying to get out of work or find a way around the system. It could be you are missing some excellent suggestions for improvements for your class because you will not listen. 

Be mindful of my student level. As a first semester junior, I may be afraid to touch a patient. I have not seen a lot of naked bodies. Changing an occupied bed and giving a bath is still huge at this point. I understand that you may have been doing this for years and thus are way beyond this apprehension but I am not.

As a senior level student, I may no longer break out in hives at the thought of giving a bed bath or emptying a catheter but I may be freeze up when dealing with a patient in critical care. I have a long way to go to become confident in all these settings but rebuking my anxiety will not lessen it.

Could you refrain from intimating you are ‘babysitting’ and reminding me I am ‘not in kindergarten anymore’. I am painfully aware of this; kindergarten was safe. Here, I feel I am experiencing lateral violence firsthand. 

May I suggest you major on the major. Do not pull insignificant facts from a textbook to test. The NCLEX will not do this. Licensing boards expect me to be able to provide safe, effective care. They will assess my ability to critically think, not my ability to memorize. Testing for non-relevant information is akin to jumping through hoops. I can do it but will learn nothing from it, information in, information out.

Please do not say, “You know what I mean….” I absolutely do not know what you mean or I would not be sitting here…

Remember that I am paying to be here. Take the time to explain and teach; do not waste my time. If you are simply reading the text, PowerPoint’s or posted notes, I can do this at home. Understand that I may be paying a babysitter so I can attend your class. If you were in my shoes would you be pleased with the service you are providing? 

If you teach an upper level class, investigate and be aware of the content in previous courses. Communicating with fellow instructors will help ensure a smooth continuum of learning for me. 

It would be best not to teach the class on the fly. If you are not committed to me and this class, may I suggest you find an alternate livelihood? In nursing I hear you speak about evidence based care, how about evidence based teaching? Do you revamp and improve? Have you kept up with current research? Do you know what it says about creating a strong, well-prepared student? I hope so because I am depending on you and so are the patients that I will care for someday. 

Do you realize I am going to be your colleague one day. I will look back on these days with either fondness or loathing. If you treat me the way you would like to be treated, I will do the same should I come across you as a patient one day. Remember, it could happen; be careful what you sow.  

Lastly, I am so excited to be on this journey to become a nurse. Help me to be successful. Share your wisdom and passion. Don't extinguish my fire for learning, squelch my enthusiasm for caring or smother my idealism for humanity. Life with all it's difficulties will do this soon enough; please help me be successful. I am the future of the profession you hold so dear. 

Deanna Hiott MSN, RN 2013

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this will never know how i needed to read this tonight...Father bless your your teaching its coming from a balanced view....a nursing student who almost gave up today...