Nursing School Politics and Social Media: Another Example of Nurses Being Bullies

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There has been a lot of talk recently among the nursing blogs about a very unfortunate scenario involving an eager nursing student and social media.

Those Emergency Blues Wrote about How to Get Yourself Arbitrarily kicked out of Nursing School.

And Not Nurse Ratched talked about How A Nursing Student can be Expelled for a Facebook photo.
The article in the Kansas City Star Discusses How Ms. Doyle Byrnes found herself expelled after posting images of herself and a placenta on Facebook.

It really is an unfortunate circumstance and chain of events that has led to an obviously passionate future nurse. What’s even worse is the fact that our nursing schools are obviously not delivering the right message to our students. As medical professionals we should all be familiar with the report published by the Institute of Medicine that reinforces the fact that to put it quite simply, To Err is Human. And while, many of us are incredibly confused by what is so appalling and deemed unfit unprofessional about an unidentifiable of medical waste, it is understandable what offense it might cause in some, and what objection an nursing school might find to this image. However, I do not feel the appropriate action is EXPEL the student for posting, and then promptly removing the image, especially after she and other students ask for permission to do so.
In a strongly worded letter to the student, just a few months prior to graduation, the director of the Johnson County Community College School of Nursing, Jeanne Walsh, states: “Your demeanor and lack of professional behavior surrounding this event was considered a disruption to the learning environment and did not exemplify the professional behavior that we expect in the nursing program.” And if this is the letter that the student received, I can only imagine what the faculty member, who gave the students permission to post the photos, received… actually no I can’t, because from what I have read, even though her influence and responses to students, or lack their of, are the clear and definite reason for this whole nursing school facebook photo fiasco to begin with.
This is crap. Pure and utter crap. Passionate and excited nurses are what we need in order to ensure we can deliver prompt and innovative healthcare. This photograph does nothing to disrupt learning. I would argue that it inspires learning. I mean, seriously not everyone is going to get giddy over medical wastes, but nursing students, and nurses alike, do, well at least the ones who are still passionate and excited about their careers. The ones that don’t get excited about healthcare are the ones who need to step away from the bedside and go administrate something somewhere… I guess that’s what Mrs. Walsh choose to do when she lost her compassion and gained an inability to care for what is obviously an eager nurse with a bright future.
My heart is broken by what Those Emergency Blues points out as being another example of nurses eating their young. Opportunities like this should be used as ways to writes policies and develop protocols to follow regarding healthcare and the growing involvement we are all having with social media, from nurses to doctors, to grandmas, and great aunts. Everyone is connected.

Is the problem really that she posted it on facebook or took the photo to begin with? I myself have battled the urge to photograph various things in the workplace, all of which would be completely unidentifiable in relationship to a patient, but something always makes me question: could this get me in trouble? Should I have to question this so heavily? I mean really, what harm was done in what she did, and how is it unprofessional to show a professional (or in this case, future professional) doing their job and participating in learning? In fact, I would argue that this image should be used as promotional material to recruit nurses into healthcare. Ms. Byrnes is obviously excited about that placenta, and you will be too when you’re a nurse!

Mrs. Byrnes, I am sorry for this injustice that I feel has been unfairly brought upon you and your classmates. I do hope that the right thing is done here and that you are allowed to complete your program, pass boards on the first try, and successfully land your dream job with your future husband. I hope that whomever has an opportunity to be in you company as a nurse sees your passion and desire to be a healthcare provider above all else and that you have a successful and fulfilling nursing career.

Don’t let the bullies win.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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10 thoughts on “Nursing School Politics and Social Media: Another Example of Nurses Being Bullies”

  1. I need some help with how to handle anesthesia providers in the OR. I am a recent grad and work in the OR as a circulator where I use to work as a Surgical tech. I feeling bullied by them and that I am on constant display and being criticized at every opportunity. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    I left today crying and upset and wondering why I went into nursing. Also, what really is my responsibility to anesthesia? I thought we were suppose to work together as a team. I am not feeling that.

    1. Amy, the best advice I can personally give you is to have confidence in yourself when you know you are doing the right thing.

      I wrote about an article on medscape that was very enlightening to me, and really felt like they had written it about me. It has given me some of the best insight into the how, why, and who, and you may find it helpful.
      Also, if you can muddle through the HUNDREDS of comments, you may also find some more helpful hints.
      http://www.thenerdynurse.com/2010/10/respect-and-dignity-nurses-guide-to.html

      There are those who will tell you to quit, but I personally think that this is not the best action. If you are in a place you want to be, doing what you want to do, then do your best to follow the chain of command.

      It is always about teamwork, but somestime theres are people who need to make others feel less of themselves in order to feel better about themselves, and that has been the common thread in bullying I’ve experienced.

      I firmly beleive in standing up for what is right and defending yourself, but if you can avoid making smart remarks in retaliation for their insults, it will make your battle and easier one to win. That was the one thing I couldn’t ever do, I just had to get a word in, and it made it harder in the long run.

      Things are better now, those bullies all still work together, and all all still miserable, and no one can stand to work with them.

      If I can be of any more assistance, please let me know, but that article, and the comments associated with it were incredibly helpful to me.

      We can stop this is we decide as a profession not to tolerate it!

  2. A clever “investigator” could easily determine the source of that placenta…there goes HIPAA! “Ardent” and “passionate” are not the words that describe the actions of those students…. “unjustified,” “foolish,” “unprofessional,” and “unethical” are the words to describe them. “Uneasy,” “reluctant,” and “distrustful” are the words that will describe the feelings of patients in the hospital in that community whenever a nursing student is assigned to take care of them. LBoyd

    1. really?

      honestly, how many people are going to care enough to investigate the original habitat of said placenta? I mean is anyone going to say “OH MY GOD THAT LOOKS JUST LIKE CINDY’S PLACENTA!!!”. Surely not.

      I know I am not alone when I say that I would much rather have a passionate, excited nurse who thinks outside of the box caring for me than someone too afraid to share their excitement about nursing with their friends and loved ones.

  3. The Nerdy Nurse

    Drake – I agree. There is much Ass-hattery being had here and its stupid. You're right, they are causing this girl an insane amount of grief and are going to make career opportunities difficulty.

    rnraquel – agreed, there were many mean professors at mine as well. One was downright evil. A students 16 year old son was tragically killed in a car accident and student missed a test. She was forced to sit for hours and do a written out test, about 10 care plans, and a multitude of other ridiculous requirements in order to be able to gradate, all because of one teacher.
    The lack of caring and consideration for someone in a tragedy was absolutely appalling to me.

    Not Nurse Ratched – thats because we are Twins separated at birth!

  4. Not Nurse Ratched

    "This is crap." It seems we have similar blogging styles.

    @Mary…that's absurd reductionism. There are about a million things you can take pictures of in a hospital legitimately.

  5. The Nerdy Nurse

    So if I draw up medicine in a syringe, and it looks particularly cool to me, and I want to take a picture of it… who do I ask for consent to take a picture of it?

  6. The school I went to had a clause that pretty much allowed them to free reign to "punish" whatever acts they saw as "unprofessional," which was part of the contract every student had to sign. Although I don't agree the student should have been expelled, I CAN say that I would be thoroughly pissed off if I found out someone took an unauthorized picture of me, or any of my "medical waste." The possible lawsuits alone, and probability of losing priviledges for the school to use that hospital, are likely the cause of the expulsion. The instructor should have been fired! I think the student should have been pulled from course, and had to repeat the next semester, and write a research paper on nursing ethics.

    I understand you point, but I have to disagree with this being labelled as bullying. Because, honestly, when is it okay to take a picture of ANYTHING we see in the hospital without written consent!?!

  7. I had some sort of mean nursing professors, but the majority of the nursing school administrators were absolutely cold and cruel. I guess maybe that is universal. Sad. This is a shame.

  8. A dean at the school calls it “a lesson hard learned.”

    Yeah, that sounds fair. Ruin a woman’s life for posting a harmless picture. I fail to see any lesson here except what total asshats people can be over the more trivial and unimportant things.

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