Are you thinking about applying to a nursing school? After all you have a high GPA and have always dreamed of being a nurse. Your heart is in the right place because you are a moral person and know that you will make a difference in a person's life. You are a kind and caring soul who believes in doing things right. Hold that thought right there.
What you don't know about nursing school now may cause you to have a moral dilemma and make you rethink if nursing is the right field for you later on. Did you know that nursing schools have a dirty little secret that you will only find out once you are in the program? That secret is that some of the instructors are bullies. You read right-bullies. The nursing profession is full of bullies both in nursing programs and in the workplace. One reason for this is that nursing schools allow the instructors to teach however they please. The instructors themselves learned how to bully from their bully nursing program instructors and when they entered the workplace they saw bullying as the status quo of normalcy.
Even though bullying, harassment and horizontal hostility is legally wrong and if done in the workplace opens the door to a lawsuit by the victim; it is not that way in university and college nursing schools. Nursing schools are not held to the same legal standards as an employer. Even though the student is paying tuition to learn and gain a degree, it is not a contract situation. Therefore if a student is harassed and or bullied and the student complains, the nursing department can retaliate and not give the student their degree. The student can appeal through the proper administrative steps, but unfortunately, the student usually is stonewalled and still will not receive their degree.
The goal of nursing school departments is to make money for the college. The unwritten rule that the nursing student finds out once they are in the program is "You will sit down, shut up, take what we dish out, and if you question how we teach or complain you will not pass". A student can and will be subjected to intimidation, verbal abuse and harassment from some of the instructors because that is currently an acceptable behavior in all aspects of nursing.
The following are examples of the bullying that I endured while in the nursing program I went through. I had a 3.54 GPA, passed all the lecture courses with a B+ average and passed all clinical until I reached the last one. I was in a first semester nursing lab class and the instructor was talking about an assessment procedure that I wanted clarification on. I raised my hand and asked a question. The instructor lashed out and stated, "Do you know how silly you sound, Laura, even your classmates are rolling their eyes".
In one lecture class I received a B+ on a test and during a class break I went up to ask the instructor about a question on the test. The instructor's face became angry and she snapped back at me, "If you would have listened better and not asked so many questions you would have gotten a better score!" My classmates in the front row stopped talking and their mouths were hanging open. I walked back to my seat sad and about ready to cry.
In another lecture class I raised my hand when the instructor was taking questions and she answered everyone else's questions but not mine. In the last clinical class I had, the instructor had a narcissistic personality and it was all about her. She regularly cussed, degraded and embarrassed us in front of each other in every post clinical conference because we had made her look bad that day.
In a closed door meeting this instructor tried to find out what other clinical instructors had said about me so she could help me pass. When I did not disclose the information she put me on a work plan as punishment. The week before the instructor had given me permission to give the hospital floor manager my resume. After I did not disclose what other instructors had said about my performance, she said "how do you expect to be hired when you can't perform the job, which makes me look bad".
This instructor constantly would correct us in front of patients. If we were late in giving reports to the instructor because we were taking care of a patient situation, she would get angry and blame us for delaying her from doing what she had to do. She would never ask what was wrong with the patient. I and another student at different times finally complained to the nursing department about the bullying we were receiving in the last clinical. We both were pulled out of that clinical and put into other secondary separate clinicals. However, the instructors were also bullies whose goal was to find as many errors as they could to fail us both as retaliation for reporting the bullying.
In that clinical, the instructor was one who had passed me in a previous clinical and interacted with me in all aspects of patient care. The second time around she only interacted with me when I had to pass medications and she always found errors. Even when I did it correctly and she gave me the okay to give the medications to the patient, she then would come into the room and ask me a question she knew I could not answer. She then said it was a med error in front of the patient. This left the patient uneasy and I had to reassure the patient that the instructor was just being safe. She in turn said the patient's uneasiness was due to my lack of knowledge and created a safety hazard for the patient. I observed that when she was doing medications with my classmates, if they did not do something correct she never said that was a med error and taught them about the medication.
In her quest to prove I was an unsafe practitioner, she one time said she would wait by the patients open wall computer chart and medication bin while I administered the medications. This open bin had two vials of heparin and a needle package in it. When I came out into the hallway after I was finished, the chart and medication bin was unattended. She knew that anyone could have come down that hall and seen the open chart and taken the bin. I felt this was a set up because according to school policy, this situation would have been an automatic student failure. However, I caught it before a staff member did and I said nothing and I heard nothing further on it. Every clinical day she told me I was an unsafe practitioner, unintelligent sounding and was not critically thinking. She would write out weekly error sheets for our group. Mine was always a page and a half, while my classmates were a half page even though she spent more time with my classmates teaching, talking about sports and her social life.
By the fourth week she said "If I had to today, Laura, I would have to fail you". By the fifth week I was put on a work plan and told me I had to be perfect and by the sixth week, two weeks before I was to graduate, she said she was failing me. However, I withdrew before that grade went onto my transcripts. The other student was told by her instructor that the student had deeper issues and she needed to be evaluated by a mental health professional before continuing. However, she was not allowed to return for missing too much time and was failed two weeks before graduation.
Bottom line is when considering nursing school; find out if the school has a history of bullying. This may require talking to past alumni who in all likelihood will be honest because they are graduated. Do not be lulled into thinking that you will have no problem kow-towing down to the instructor so you can get through. If you are a moral, honest and God fearing person your resolve will be tested. You may face the moral dilemma of "do I risk losing my chances of passing by reporting the bullying or do I keep quiet". Remember, if your moral self wins out and you report it-you will lose just as I did. And if you think you have legal recourse-you don't.
There are attorneys that will take on your case but for a hefty fee. Most attorneys charge $250.00 an hour. The reason that attorneys do not work on contingent is because the client usually does not win money. And because schools know this and have expensive attorneys who will protect the school's reputation at any cost, hence, that is why the student loses and nursing school bullying continues. It is recommended that all nursing students please read Kathleen Batholomew's book, Ending Nurse to Nurse Hostility; Why Nurses Eat Their Young.