Tuesday, November 14, 2006

educator not policewoman

I’ve decided to observe the bluffing graduate (of previous post fame) a little more closely. That combined with asking experienced staff for feedback has been enlightening. It really is bluff and bravado being put on show – there are some significant deficits in the grad’s practice.

Yesterday I hung around them for a fair bit of the shift, assisting and generally keeping an eye on what was happening. A lot appeared to be happening, but somehow not much got done! At least some of the essentials didn’t get done.

How to approach the problem? How to raise it in a sensitive manner that was constructive and helpful? Last week those were my big questions. The first thing I had to do was work myself up to even speak with the graduate – they irritated me and I would quite happily have ignored their issues and left them to their own devices. (Yeah that’ll work!)

Yesterday I forced myself to pop by and happened to find the grad in a bit of a pickle. Every time they tried to attend to a task, a patient would deteriorate and need quick intervention, or some other interruption would occur. They were getting behind so I offered to help.

In that moment their whole attitude changed – they were appreciative of my assistance, and after dealing effectively with a bradypnoeaic patient, suddenly they seemed to have more respect for me.

As their attitude towards me changed, my attitude towards them also changed. I decided that the kindest thing to do was inform them that I had heard some less than favourable feedback, that my observations had confirmed this, and ask how they would like to approach the situation.

It worked! At the end of the shift we got together for a chat and the graduate opened up. They accepted the feedback, almost tearfully acknowledged their problems, and admitted to a large dose of stress. Somehow they’d become so focused on completing a tick list, that their patient care had suffered - they were so intent on achieving certain competencies that they let the basics slip.

What a relief – for me and them! They were able to share the burden that their sliding practice was placing on them, while their openness allowed me to offer support and suggestions for change.

It all reminded me of something I read in a book by Ci Ci Stuart (2003). She wrote that:
Monitoring progress is not about policing the learner. It is
very much about finding out the quality and quantity of learning which has taken
place and any difficulties the learner may be experiencing so that further
learning activities can be discussed and planned for further learning and

I’d been approaching this from the perspective of policing the graduate – “you aren’t doing this and you should be. Get your act together”.

When I decided to be honest and discuss how the graduate could best learn and develop, my attitude became more supportive and understanding and they were able to receive my feedback and discuss it honestly.

Our meeting ended on a good note. I ticked off some competencies for them, and we developed a plan for improvement.

And the bluff and bravado? One big cover up by someone who just needed to be understood and supported. Next time I’ll take the supportive approach from the start!


At Friday, November 24, 2006 1:43:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am really interested in your thoughts on feeling like a policewoman in your job. I am currently in a nursing education position and although I haven't found the issue with the students or grads, I have found the issue of having to confront qualified staff members with their techniques that are less than best practice.
It is comforting to know that my feelings are not unique and that others have the same concerns.


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