I recently conducted a workshop titled, “Preventing the Next Generation of Nurse Bullies.” In this workshop I discussed the importance of setting behavioral expectations in the academic environment. If we don’t address bad behavior in nursing school, these nurses graduate and enter into the work environment behaving badly. Why? Because they think it’s normal.
During this workshop I mentioned an article I read several years ago titled, “Failure to Fail: Facing the Consequences of Inaction.” By Julie Scholes and John Albarran.

In this article, the authors provide the readers with a down and dirty look at why we continue to allow students who do not meet academic standards to pass and the impact it has on the public.
Common barriers to failing students:
·      Procedurally and emotionally difficult
·      Time consuming
·      Concern of being judged as an instructor

·      Early identification of students who are struggling and provide focused support
·      Helping instructors to become more confident in the process of failing students
·      Clear documentation of performance
My experience: I’ve been an adjunct clinical instructor many times. Once, I had a group of senior students on a neuro unit. Within 2 days I knew that one of my male students was a problem. He was unsafe – period. After a while, I realized that I owed it to the human race to fail him! But I was adjunct faculty and didn’t know their process. Over the course of a few weeks, I worked with the program director who helped me put the documentation together that enabled me to fail him from the course and ultimately the program.
Here’s the problem – he was a senior student about to graduate. When I asked about his past performance, every single instructor who had him identified concerns but NOBODY took the time to do the right thing and fail him. Needless to say, he was irate! Even though he threatened to sue the school and me, the director didn’t back down. He was removed from the program and not allowed to reenter. Kudos to the program director for backing me up!! It was painful, but it was the right thing to do.

As the authors in this article state, we have to stop allowing poor performers to graduate and enter into the workforce. After all, we have an ethical responsibility to our public to ensure that the nurses who enter into the nursing profession are competent and safe to practice.

The authors make a great point by asking us to ask ourselves –  “Would I want to be cared for by this nurse?” 

Thanks so much for reading. I’d be very interested in hearing about your experiences with this topic.

Take care and stay connected!

If you’d like to read a copy of this article, please contact me through my website at www.rtconnections.com.
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