Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Teacher’s Pet

I’m currently doing my second of 5 clinical rotations in psychiatry. My first rotation was a six week stint in neurology. I really loved the department and got to work with some amazing patients, but I can’t say I loved my practicum. So far, my current practicum has been pretty sweet! The major difference between the two rotations is mostly my standing in the group. Because of scheduling issues, my group was split into several groups for the first rotation so this is the first time we are all together. I’ve been matched up with some good students both times, but there always seems to be a pecking order. In my neurology rotation I was on the bottom of the totem pole while on this one, I’m the star pupil. The difference is amazing, yet somewhat disturbing.

In my neurology rotation we were 7 students and I would say we were all on an even playing field (somewhat anyway). The teacher assigned to us, we’ll call her Ginger, was teaching for the very first time so she had quite a few challenges. No matter how hard I tried I always got a bad vibe from her. I always got the feeling she didn’t feel I was doing a good job, even though I was doing exactly the same thing as the others. My friend and fellow student Sarah (not her real name) was definitely the star pupil in the group... and she didn’t seem to see why I was so frustrated. In her eyes, Ginger was an awesome teacher who gave us lots of freedom and didn’t ask much of us. Maybe it was because I was a more demanding student: I didn’t like when she cancelled our clinical (something she did 4 times) or cut them short (at least 2 hours every day) and would get frustrated because she never gave me any of the challenging cases. Sarah on the other hand got to do all the cool stuff: insert an NG tube, insert a couple of IVs, insert a catheter, attend a neuro surgery, etc. I did nothing but bath my patients... and I mean NOTHING. It was incredibly frustrating. All the other students got to try new things and each passing was just another week I didn’t get to do anything. I ended up with a B, which was the lowest grade she gave. Humph. Anyway, the clinical is over with so I’m moving on.

In my new rotation, however, I’m the one getting the special treatment. Whenever I make a mistake my teacher (Nadine), brushes it off saying something like, I know you knew better, so don’t worry about it. I get to do things no one else does too. On Friday I’ll be at the children and adolescent psychiatric unit; a privilege no one else ever gets. She’s also said that next week I can job shadow the psychiatric nurse in Emerg. She’s constantly praising me and telling me what a bright student I am and how much potential I have. It’s awesome to have all these opportunities, but I’m also feeling guilty about it. This new group of students isn’t as evenly matched as my previous group. Out of five students including myself I would say two are strong students, two are strong students lacking self-confidence and one is out in left field. Also, Nadine is the type of teacher who makes you suffer if you aren’t up to her standards or if you don’t stand by your convictions. She yells at students, degrades them and makes them cry and want to quit on a daily basis. It really sucks for the students who have a target on their back, but they also didn’t come prepared for the clinical either. One student in particular, “Linda” is a mature student who has been doing her Bachelor for-ev-er. She’s failed a few classes because, as she said, “the teacher made her fail”, and keeps screwing up on a daily basis. On our first day she showed up in street wear when everyone else was in scrubs. That same week she missed her assignment because “no one told her she had to go to the hospital to get it” and yet the other 4 students had clearly understood we had an assignement. It takes her 30 minutes to give meds to 2 patients when it takes about 5 to 10 minutes for everyone else. Nadine LOVES to pick on her and boy does she! The more Nadine screams, the more Linda flails. It’s really sad to see.

All this to say that it’s awesome getting special treatment, but I don’t want the other students to start hating me. I mean, for one thing it’s not fair and for another, we’re going to be together for another 4 months! I keep trying to remind myself to just take advantage of all the opportunities I’m getting (it is my career, after all) while remaining level headed as possible. I try my best to help out the students and encourage them, because two of them just need to know they are doing a good job, but even that doesn’t work because now Nadine has told me that she’ll be lowering my grade if I keep helping everyone else. Grrr.

Anyway, I guess I just have to remember to keep my ego in check because my next rotation could do a 180! It’s tough when so much of your grade depends on how well you “connect” with the prof.