Ep38: Nursing Instructor Gives Me Anxiety . . . HELP!

teachers make me nervous

Resources in this Episode:



What is up? This is Jon with the NRSNG podcast. There, we’re going to do another question from one of the listeners. This question, I’m really excited about because I have some personal experiences that I haven’t shared before on the podcast. I feel like I may be able to help with this question quite a bit.

Thank you so much guys for joining the show. If you like the show, you can always head over to Twitter, to Facebook, to YouTube and you can watch more of our material and we love you sharing with people. That’s how we can help more students is by sharing. If you have some classmates who would love to share would be more than appreciated, you guys.

We want to reach as many students as we can. That’s the best way that we can reach more people as you guys, you guys sharing. Before we get started, I want to remind you, you can head over to nrsng.com/resources. There, you’ll find all of our books, our apps, a lot of our study guides and things that we have available for you.

You can find the RN Crush! App up there and the link to that as well as some of the things that we have in the works right now. Also, if you want to get access to the resources for this show, head over to nrsng.com/53 and you can actually listen to the show and read the transcript and stuff online. It’s nrsng.com/53.

Today, our question is a little bit different but I think there’s probably a lot of students struggling with this just based on the experience that I’ve had with other students. The student, this person says,

“I have a teacher that triggers my anxiety during clinical especially when I’m doing meds and it delays my thought process. She has lost my trust and safety. What suggestions do you have for me to stay focused and not let her gruffness impede my performance?”

First of all, thank you so much for asking that. I think a lot of people do struggle with this. It’s very difficult. I think unfortunately, you’ve ran into THAT professor in quotes. Every nursing school has one of these professors that seems like their goal in life is just to take their anger out on students for whatever reason.

Now, I’m saying this, assuming that you’re doing everything you can to be prepared and to do the best job possible in clinical. I know that because you’re part of NRSNG community and we are the best nurses out there. You guys are just the best students, best nurses out there. I’m fully confident of that and I appreciate you guys being part of this group.

Knowing that you’re doing what it takes to be prepared for clinical and knowing that you’re doing what it takes to learn and to do everything that you can, I’m going to say there’s every school has one of these professors.

My Experience with THAT Professor

I ran into this professor, my second to last semester in nursing school. This teacher had just finished her master’s degree from an online university and decided that she wanted to teach. I’m not entirely sure why she wanted to teach because it seems like it was the last thing that she really wanted to do. It seem like really more than anything, this teacher just wanted to live out some vengeance on somebody via nursing students.

The teacher was incapable of admitting when she didn’t know something. She was incapable of listening to students. She was not a very good teacher and she just wasn’t really fit to be a teacher. Unfortunately, I was stuck with her for a class and a couple clinicals.

Now, this built up, I’d done … I was a very good student. I worked very, very hard in nursing school. I really wanted to be the best nurse possible. This teacher just sucked that life out of me. I allowed it to affect me to a point that that was just completely unhealthy.

I don’t want this to happen to you. I want you to rise above. I don’t want you to end up … I let it drain me mentally, emotionally and academically. I just became so frustrated and angry and bitter about this professor to a point that it just completely affected my life as a whole. Don’t let this happen to you.

Here’s some suggestions that I’m going to give to you to not let this happen to you.

Show Up Early and Review Meds

First of all, I’m not sure how your school works. What I want you to do is I want you to see if you can get access to your patient’s meds, your patient’s medical record and everything the day before clinical. I want you to find out from your teacher if you can get that access, go to the hospital, whatever it takes for you to do that.

In my school, we were able to go to the hospital the night before and read through the patient chart, et cetera. I want you to see if you can get that access. I want you go up there. I want you to look at their meds, write each of them down that you will be giving during your shift and then in one column, write what the med is.

In the next column, write what the indication for that med is. In the last column, I want you to write some of the contraindications and side effects. I want you to do that with each of the meds and I want you to be able to identify why you’re giving the med and what would be maybe reason you wouldn’t give it. For example, if it’s Lisinopril or something, why would you hold Lisinopril? Why is the patient getting Lisinopril? What’s the condition that’s requiring them to get this?

I want you to do that for your own benefit. I want you to have that confidence that you know exactly why you’re giving each med, exactly how each is med is given and why you wouldn’t give each med. I don’t really care about the teacher. She can do or say or act whatever she wants but I want you to do that for your own confidence. I want each clinical experience especially giving meds to be wonderful for you.
I want you to do that. If you can’t get it the night before, I want you to show up on the unit 30 to 45 minutes early and do the same thing and just get through it as much as you can. At least for one patient, if you don’t have multiple patients, at least for one patient, do this. Write down each of the meds, what it’s given for, some of the contraindications and side effects.

140 Must Know Meds

Another thing that you can do is you can check out our book 140 Must Know Meds. If you go to nursingstudentbooks.com, you can find that book. That will help you. It has 140 of some of the most common meds with just the things that you need to know about them in there. I think it’s a really helpful book. It’s not full of text or anything like that. It’s not confusing. It’s exactly just what you need to know. It’s a really good book. 140 Must Know Meds, you can find that at nursingstudentbooks.com.

These People Don’t Go Away

The next thing that I want to tell you is that the people like this instructor are going to … You’re going to encounter these people throughout your entire nursing career. It sucks but it’s true. Whether it’s a co-worker, whether it’s a doctor, you’re going to have these people that for just whatever reason, they’re just angry, they’re just upset and they just feel that showing some form of superiority is how they’re going to prove to the world their value. I don’t know what it is.

We have a one girl that started working with me on the floor at the same time. There was one doctor that just for whatever reason, just love to harass her. I don’t know what his reasoning was but it was her. What I want you to do is that when these people approach you, you should approach them with confidence. You’re a good student. You’re working hard and you know what you need to know. I want you to go back at them with confidence.

Confidence in What You Know – Humility to Ask Questions

I want you to have confidence in what you do know. I want you to have humility to ask when you don’t know. If the teacher does ask you
something you really just don’t know, I really, really, really want you to say, “I’m not sure. Can you tell me? Is there … Can I look this up before we do that? I hadn’t considered that.” I want you to approach in that way. I don’t want you to be like, “Oh, I don’t know,” and stumble through some response.

I want you to be very honest about what you do know, what you don’t know. I want you to use your thought process as you’re thinking. If the teacher asked you something, say, “Well, I’m thinking maybe this is what’s happening but I’m not really sure. Can I go look it up really quick? I hadn’t really considered that before.”

What that’s doing is showing that you’re willing to learn, that you respect the teacher and their role as your teacher. At the same time, it shows that you have thought about other things. Maybe you had that one thing hadn’t crossed your mind but you had thought about other things.

Now, I’m not promising that that’s going to stop this person. I don’t know this person but I know, possibly from what you’re saying, people like this. They’re just … They’re there, they’re there in the nursing world unfortunately and for whatever reason, that’s just how they are.

I do want to tell you that nursing students and nurses that don’t ask questions are very scary. When we have new interns on our floor, the ones that don’t ask questions inevitably are the ones that struggle. I don’t know if they’re not asking questions because of pride or fear or whatever it is but you need to be vocal about everything you’re doing.

If the teacher wants to be standing over your shoulder the whole time you’re doing meds, then vocalize everything that you’re doing. For whatever reason, that’s just how she’s going to be and that’s what you need to do.

NEVER Forget Your Goal

The next thing I want to say is to remember your goal. Your goal is to become a nurse and your goal is to be the best nurse possible. What I want you to do is I want you to write that goal down. I want you to create affirmations for yourself. I know that sounds really floofy or whatever but what affirmations are is they are statements about yourself, about what you want to be and who you want to be.

I want you to write an affirmation, something to the effect of, “I am a good nurse who takes excellent care of my patients and to puts forth the effort to know everything that she can know.” That’s something to that effect is what I would write down for myself and I would read that every day before going to clinical. That would be my suggestion to you.

That becomes drilled in your mind. If these negative thoughts start to enter your mind and if you start to get hard on yourself because of this teacher, that’s already burned in your psyche and you’re not concerned about that. I would definitely write affirmations.

The couple more things, one of the last things I want to say to you is that this instructor, again, I don’t know them or anything, I don’t know the whole story but they may be trying to make you stronger. This might be the way that they do it.

I know there’s definitely some nurses and students that come to our floor that probably think I might be able a bit mean but what I’m really trying to do is I’m trying to assess knowledge level. I’m trying to get their attention to things that matter. I’m trying to take these new nurses and mold their thinking away from things that don’t really matter to focus on what does matter.

Sometimes, doing that might seem mean or might seem harsh. That might be what this teacher is trying to do. If she is pointing something out, maybe try to see why she is pointing that out, et cetera.

This Will Make You Stronger

Then the last thing that I want to say to you is just if nothing else, this is going to make you stronger. As you grow as a nurse, you’re going to have experiences that make you stronger. It may eventually help you on the floor. There may be some doctor on some floor, some other co-worker on some floor that just as like this also. It may be something that really makes you stronger.

Unfortunately, as nurses, we have to develop this shell around ourselves, around our emotions because this is an incredibly hard job, emotionally, physically, mentally, more than any other job out there. I’ve had a lot of jobs in a lot of fields. This is just a very difficult job.
If none of these other stuff works, if you can’t come to some understanding with this teacher, just look at it as this is going to make you stronger and this is going to make you a better nurse. It’s going to make you better able to deal with confrontation when it comes in the actual working field.

Countdown Calander

Then the very, very last thing that I want to say is if none of these other stuff helps, if nothing else that we’ve talked about helps, just create a countdown calendar. Make a day, a number for each day that you have left with this instructor. That might help the time go by faster. We’re about halfway through the semester so I’m hoping maybe this will be your last semester with this teacher.

Just do a countdown calendar until you can get done. You can do this. Meds are one of the things that I focus on very hard to when I’m with new nurses. They’re very important and I know you’re doing what you need to be doing. Keep doing what you need to be doing and just forget about everything else. Do learn everything you can about the meds. They’re very important to understand. You can do this.


For additional help, again, you can check out 140 Must Know Meds over at Nursing Student Books. We have the app RN Crush! that will be available in April 2015. All right guys, head over to nrsng.com/resources. Also, visit nrsng.com/53 for everything that we talked about in this episode.

You guys, you can do this. I have complete faith in you. Nursing is a very hard job. I’m never going to sugarcoat how difficult nursing can be but I’m going to tell you that you can do it. It’s the most rewarding experience and the most rewarding job that I’ve ever had. All right guys, I hope you have a great day and happy nursing.

Your Thoughts

Do you have another suggestion that I didn’t cover? Share it below!

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