When you don’t “click” with your nursing instructor

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We’ve all got those teachers we love, the ones that make us look at nursing in a different light.  And then there are those instructors that we just don’t get. When you just don’t understand each other, and the more you have to work together, the worse it gets. What do you do? This instructor is plays an integral part of your nursing career, but you’ve also got to do what’s best for you. So what happens?

For me it was a clinical instructor. I will spare all the little details, but it was my second quarter (of 3) in my med-surg rotation.  Things were going well, but I was still feeling very nervous before each clinical day. I confided in my instructor that I was feeling anxious, and that even though I was very prepared for class each week, I felt like I had forgotten something. She was a very laid-back instructor, and so I thought that in telling her this, she would be able to help me out and that maybe I would start to feel a bit more confident.

Wrong! I guess she thought she was helping me, but she ended up babying me. Not having me take on challenging cases, or perform new skills. I felt lazy because I really wasn’t being challenged any more. As the quarter was coming to an end, my instructor basically told me that if I didn’t hurry up and “get more confident,” I would probably fail the next quarter. WHAT?  Really? No one had ever told me I was going to fail before. And it wasn’t like I was doing poorly, I was performing skills well and taking good care of my patients, but because I told her I was nervous, she’d lost confidence in me.

At first I was devastated, and I started to lose confidence in myself. But after mulling it over for a few days, I really started to get angry, and then I was just out right determined to prove her wrong. We didn’t click. She’s a smart woman, but I couldn’t have faith in an instructor that gave up on students so easily. I worked my but off to prove to her that I was confident enough and skilled enough to survive. And when the next quarter brought on a very challenging instructor, I knew that the only thing that would boost my confidence was not to prove it to my instructor, but to prove it to myself that I could handle it.

We don’t have much say when it comes to our instructors, and when you get stuck with one that you just don’t click with, there isn’t much that you can do.  If they’re telling you you’re not cut out for this, or that you won’t make it, remember why it is you are in nursing school. Don’t prove work to prove it to the instructor that you’re competent, prove it to yourself and in the end, no-one can doubt you.

Nursing Students: What are your thoughts? What has happened or what did you do when you didn’t click with an instructor?

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Ani Burr, RN

I'm a brand new, full-fledged, fresh-out-of-school RN! And better yet, I landed the job of my dreams working with children. I love what I do, and while everyday on the job is a new (and sometimes scary) experience, I'm taking it all in - absorbing everything I can about this amazing profession we all fell in love with.

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5 Responses to When you don’t “click” with your nursing instructor

  1. megan

    I totally can relate to your situation. I have two semesters left of Nursing school and I have had some of those moments. I find as an adult student it really bothers me when my instructors “talk down” to me as if I’m in elementary school. For the most part, I have had great instructors, but there are a few who do get under my skin! ugh…

    Great post!

  2. mary

    ani yes! i have definitely had a couple of these instructors.. the one i remember the most was my first semester.. it was like our third clinical and of course i was still insanely nervous and it was 6 am so i wasnt 100 percent chipper so she not even really knowing me or anything about me puts her arm around my shoulder all nice and cheery and says maybe you should reconsider nursing. i was just blown away

  3. Ani Burr Scrubs Blogger

    Megan – I think we all hate being “talked down” to… I mean REALLY?! It’s not like we’re in high school, we’re in nursing school to become professional nurses, and it’s hard work, so we deserve to be treated as such! :)

    Mary – oh my – I think I would have lost it. Moments like that make my blood pressure go up! I hope you were able to show her otherwise!

  4. Patty Mathis

    I had an instructor in Nursing shool that repeatedly worked medication dose problems wrong. When I corrected her she began to ride me about everything. Several times she pulled me into the broom or linen closet to yell at me. I made it and have been a nurse for 24 years now. Do not let them take you down

  5. chocolakat Student

    Wow! I had chills when I read your post. I almost quit nursing school because of one instructor and one clinical instructor I had the unfortunate opportunity to meet. My instructor told our class she grew up in the projects and was treated really bad by the girls that lived there (I never lived in the projects or ever set into one) so she projected onto me all of the fustrations she felt growing up living there. Next one of my clincal instructors told me I should stick with science or research because I will never be a nurse. Boy am I glad I didn’t listen to those two unhappy women. I have only two classes left and in my journey I encountered so many other instructors and clinical teachers who valued me not only as a person but also as a soon to be nurse. Thje patients and their famillies I have encountered over my course, have solidified what my friends and family have told me time and time again, “You are going to be a great nurse!”. So when I think back to my beginning, I am so happy because now I see that those two instructors taught me the strength to perserver in the shadow of doubt. I will be a great nurse because I claim it.