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Dealing With Difficult Nursing Instructors.

Updated: Nov 19, 2018


Nursing school is tough. The amount of information that nurses are expected to master in a short amount of time is overwhelming. What makes nursing school even harder for many students is having to deal with difficult instructors. While there may be many reasons why teachers are hard on their nursing students, this article is written to help encourage and motivate students on how they can appropriately deal with instructors, regardless of the reason why the teacher is being difficult.


#1. Be Assertive.


If you don't understand what assertiveness means yet, you will most likely go over it during your leadership classes in nursing school. But for a simple spark note version, assertiveness is a perfect balance between being passive and aggressive. There are benefits to both passiveness, and aggressiveness in certain situations, but in nursing school, if you find yourself in a situation where you and a teacher are not getting along, you need to be assertive. If you are aggressive with your instructor, there is a possibility that the teacher will be impressed that you are able to hold your ground, and can fight for what you want, but there is also a chance that you will just come across as annoying, disrespectful, or arrogant to your teacher. If you are passive, you might avoid some negative interactions with your teacher, but there are possibilities of you being dropped from the program, receiving lower grades that you could have fought to be raised up, or possible harassment that doesn't get reported.



Having the balance of being assertive and honest with a teacher, telling the teacher, or teachers, your concerns in a civil way will bring an added measure of respect to you as a student. The teacher will know that you are passionate about your collegiate career, and that you will be a good nurse that sticks up for themselves when needed. If you have a situation with an instructor, let your emotions take a backseat and try to think as logically as you can. It is easy when you are not the student under fire to be upset and give emotionally heated advise to other students. Odds are if you take such advise, or you have an emotionally heated conversation with an instructor you could face trouble with your nursing program. It is an amazing accomplishment to be admitted into a nursing program. Don't forget that, and don't jeopardize the opportunity to be a nurse because you were either passive, or too aggressive when dealing with a tough situation. Think rationally, and when you are thinking about a possible confrontation with a teacher, think assertive.


#2. Be Transparent.


Nursing school is not like regular college classes. You will/are with nursing instructors sometimes multiple times a week, many hours a day, for possibly multiple semesters. By the time of your pinning ceremony, you will have built a relationship with your instructors. Whether that relationship is good or bad is mostly up to you. Let your instructor know how you are feeling. If you are struggling with a nursing instructor, ask good questions to try and be on the same page as they are. If there is an instructor that seems to undermine everything you do, and it feels like every decision you make as a student this teacher criticizes you for it, try and understand where the teacher is coming from.

If you can ask good questions, and make reasonable and good conversations with a difficult instructor, you will build an emotional tie between the two of you. This might be really hard, especially if you feel like your instructor is satan, and you are nothing but a rotting corpse to this teacher, but if you can open up yourself, and show that you are willing to be an open, transparent, and honest student, you will have at least done your part to build a relationship with your instructor.


#3. Seek appropriate help.


Although nursing instructors are well educated and inspiring people, they are still human beings. Human beings capable of abuse, and mistreatment. If you are ever in a situation where there is an instructor that you feel is being abusive, you need to seek help as soon as possible. Keep the information confidential, don't share something serious with your entire class. If you have a claim that could potentially be marked as abuse, or harassment, the consequences towards the instructor, or yourself could be severe. Your college will have counselors, and resource officers that are trained for these types of situations. Even if the situation is not severe, such as sexual abuse, talking with a counselor may help you think clearly about how to handle a stressful situation with a teacher.



Seeking help is not always a passive solution to a problem. A smart person is someone who understands that they are smarter with the knowledge of everyone around them. You are not alone in nursing school, and you have a large amount of resources all around you. You may be a really smart person, (you are a nursing student after all) but there may be information that someone else has that will enlighten your understanding, and help you combat your situation in a more assertive way, than if you try to go about it on your own.


Remember that if you have a serious abusive situation such as physical violence, sexual abuse, emotional, or negative racial comments, seek help immediately.



Key Points.


#1. Be Assertive.

#2. Be Transparent.

#3. Seek Help.


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