How Should I Respond to a Bad Clinical Eval?

Updated | Posted
by lcb Member Student

Has 1 years experience.

asking-about-clinical-eval-without-coming-across-as-defensive.jpg.f4351aeca0321b5202b6b687034e2696.jpg

I am a rising senior and I just got my first poor clinical eval. The problem is, I have no idea why. She did pass me, my overall grade is satisfactory, but she said in the eval that I'm argumentative, unprofessional, uncivil, unwilling to do tasks she delegated to me, and that I don't accept feedback. I'm dumbfounded because she didn't ever once give me feedback during the clinical. The clinical was only 4 days and we didn't have a midterm eval. Never once did she say one word to me about my performance. I honestly didn't do anything in the entire clinical other than change bed linens, take vitals, and give a few oral meds (under her direct supervision, of course). This criticism is totally out of left field. I honestly have absolutely no idea what she's referring to -- like, I'm wracking my brain and I can't even think of what interactions I had with her that she interpreted this way. Was it because I asked her for advice on how to better count pediatric respirations when she told me to go back and count them again?  Was it because I asked if I could finish a task I was in the middle of for my assigned patient before I followed her orders to change the bed linens for several other patients on the floor? 

So my question is: Should I ask her? The clinical is over and I don't expect to ever see this instructor again. I feel like even asking what she's referring to is going to sound like I'm being defensive and, you know, "not accepting feedback." But obviously I can't learn from it when I literally have NO IDEA what I did that she didn't like. Feel like I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't. 

Should I ask for clarification, and if so, how would you word it? Or should I just let it go? I'm supposed to put my own comment on the eval and I have no idea what to say. I feel like if I say anything along the lines of "I truly don't know what interaction/incident/behavior on my part this is referring to," then -- again -- I'll sound defensive, thus proving her point. But if I say nothing then I'm afraid my professor will think it's true and that I agree with it, which I definitely don't (at least not without further clarification seeing as I truly don't even know what I did!). The professor for this class is the one who does placements for senior practicum, so I DO care what she thinks.

meanmaryjean, DNP, RN

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia. Has 45 years experience. 7,899 Posts

"I would like to take this evaluation as a learning and growth opportunity. Would you (instructor) be open to a meeting to discuss your comments and recommend ways in which I might improve?"

amoLucia

Specializes in retired LTC. 7,641 Posts

My first thought was to think if OP was mistaken for some other student by the instructor ???? While very rare, it can happen. In today's academic milieu, much is in flux. So .... ???? 

ThursdayNight, CNA

Specializes in Wiping tears. Has 4 years experience. 190 Posts

If the instructor resists your request, email your program director. 

JKL33

6,129 Posts

23 hours ago, lcb said:

Was it because I asked her for advice on how to better count pediatric respirations when she told me to go back and count them again?  Was it because I asked if I could finish a task I was in the middle of for my assigned patient before I followed her orders to change the bed linens for several other patients on the floor? 

Probably.

 

23 hours ago, lcb said:

So my question is: Should I ask her? The clinical is over and I don't expect to ever see this instructor again.

NOPE!!

23 hours ago, lcb said:

I'm supposed to put my own comment on the eval

Well, shoot.

I guess in that case you might contact the instructor who wrote these comments and ask for a meeting. Not sure what exactly you'd say, though. IMO someone who writes things like this after the fact, after anyone has any chance to do anything about them, after all opportunities for immediate clarification have passed....people like this are a plague upon the nursing profession. Just general troublemakers and havoc-wreakers because they don't feel good about themselves.

If I was going to write things like this on someone's evaluation you can be sure it wouldn't be the first they'd heard of it, and they would not be passing the clinical. On the other hand, if I had minor but legitimate criticisms I would offer them constructively.

So I guess at the meeting I'd just say that the comments were distressing and I hadn't perceived that things were going poorly until reading them and would like to review the circumstances that lead to the comments because improving is important to me (??).

Good luck.

 

FashionablyL8, CNA, LPN

Has 1 years experience. 129 Posts

You've received great advice on how to handle this. It's really too bad that you didn't receive any feedback from the instructor before this evaluation. Perhaps she does have the wrong student. Do you remember how she acted toward you; does anything in particular stand out? If she was that unhappy with you in the 4 days of clinical, IMO she should have been direct and addressed it then. That eval sounds pretty harsh to come out of nowhere.

 As a senior, I would think you would already have been made aware of major issues with your attitude/behavior in clinical. I know I would have been really shocked and upset to get an evaluation like that after doing well throughout school. Whether the instructor has some valid points that you can learn from, or this a mistake/inaccurate perception on her part, I think it will be good to find out what this is all about. Hopefully you'll get some clarification if nothing else.

TriciaJ, RN

Specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory. Has 41 years experience. 4,291 Posts

I'd certainly be putting my comments on that eval.  I would comment that the eval was a list of adjectives without specific examples.  (This is tantamount to name-calling.  It's unprofessional and does not support learning.)

State that you have always been receptive to feedback but did not receive any.  Reiterate that the eval is not only not helpful, but dumbfounding (your word and it's a good one).

This is not being defensive; it's being assertive.  If you get called out for your response, say that you take your reputation seriously and you would like an honest eval because you can't learn anything from just being called names.  Good luck.

lcb

Has 1 years experience. 23 Posts

Ah, thanks for all the support — I wish I’d checked this thread again before my comments were due! After talking with other students who saw me in clinical and a friend who’s a nurse and had a similar experience as a student, I decided to let it go. I really didn’t want to do anything in my response that would potentially support her statement that I don’t accept feedback, and after talking with other students who were with me in clinical, I feel pretty confident that this was just one person not liking me and that I’m not really gonna be able to learn anything valuable from her. (As others said in this thread — if she wanted to offer constructive or useful feedback, she would have said something when an incident happened, not called me names after the fact like that!) Also, there was an incident — which to me was so minor I had forgotten it — where I questioned her use of white-centering language to describe skin (she INSISTED that in report we should always say skin is “pink and well-perfused”…I asked “wouldn’t it be more appropriate to say “skin color is appropriate for ethnicity? Because not everyone has pink skin?” and she insisted no, you have to say pink, and the discussion moved on). But yeah, me essentially implying that she was being racist in front of all the other students is probably what she meant when she said I was argumentative and uncivil. I’m not ashamed and I would do it again. ??‍♀️? After talking with my friend who’s been a nurse for years, I realized that it really doesn’t matter — I got a passing grade overall, and she probably just wanted to punish me for questioning her. But trying to discuss it now is likely not gonna benefit me — it’s not even gonna show up on my transcript, and the program director would undoubtedly take her side, because it would basically be my word against hers on whether I was argumentative or not. I certainly DID argue with her when she insisted that everyone has pink skin, because that’s some white-centering racist BS, and if that’s what this was about then that’s not about me. I decided it’s only gonna exhaust me to to try to get clarification, and it’s not gonna benefit me, because if she actually had valuable insight to offer me about my behavior and ways I could improve, she would not have dropped it on me unexpectedly like this— she would have discussed it constructively when I still had a chance to improve. 
 

After final grades are in, I might email the course professor and just let her know that this instructor dropped this criticism on me out of the blue, and that I felt I couldn’t ask for clarification without sounding like I was confirming her accusation that I don’t accept feedback. That prof is a sweetheart, and I think if I offered her that info in good faith, in a kind way, she might share it as constructive criticism with the instructor, which I think would be helpful for future students. I don’t feel comfortable saying anything to the instructor because I feel like any interaction I have with her, she’s gonna perceive as argumentative and uncivil…seeing as I have no clue still what I did to get that on my eval. 
 

But most likely I’m just gonna let it go. It doesn’t actually affect me at all, and there’s a limit to how much I can advocate for future students. 

Hannahbanana, BSN, MSN

Specializes in Physiology, CM, consulting, nsg edu, LNC, COB. Has 52 years experience. 1,183 Posts

Don’t you have a faculty advisor?  For, like, advice and advocacy? 

LindaGracie, ADN, BSN

Specializes in geriatric, home health. Has 7 years experience. 4 Articles; 29 Posts

On 7/24/2021 at 10:19 AM, lcb said:

Ah, thanks for all the support — I wish I’d checked this thread again before my comments were due! After talking with other students who saw me in clinical and a friend who’s a nurse and had a similar experience as a student, I decided to let it go. I really didn’t want to do anything in my response that would potentially support her statement that I don’t accept feedback, and after talking with other students who were with me in clinical, I feel pretty confident that this was just one person not liking me and that I’m not really gonna be able to learn anything valuable from her. (As others said in this thread — if she wanted to offer constructive or useful feedback, she would have said something when an incident happened, not called me names after the fact like that!) Also, there was an incident — which to me was so minor I had forgotten it — where I questioned her use of white-centering language to describe skin (she INSISTED that in report we should always say skin is “pink and well-perfused”…I asked “wouldn’t it be more appropriate to say “skin color is appropriate for ethnicity? Because not everyone has pink skin?” and she insisted no, you have to say pink, and the discussion moved on). But yeah, me essentially implying that she was being racist in front of all the other students is probably what she meant when she said I was argumentative and uncivil. I’m not ashamed and I would do it again. ??‍♀️? After talking with my friend who’s been a nurse for years, I realized that it really doesn’t matter — I got a passing grade overall, and she probably just wanted to punish me for questioning her. But trying to discuss it now is likely not gonna benefit me — it’s not even gonna show up on my transcript, and the program director would undoubtedly take her side, because it would basically be my word against hers on whether I was argumentative or not. I certainly DID argue with her when she insisted that everyone has pink skin, because that’s some white-centering racist BS, and if that’s what this was about then that’s not about me. I decided it’s only gonna exhaust me to to try to get clarification, and it’s not gonna benefit me, because if she actually had valuable insight to offer me about my behavior and ways I could improve, she would not have dropped it on me unexpectedly like this— she would have discussed it constructively when I still had a chance to improve. 
 

After final grades are in, I might email the course professor and just let her know that this instructor dropped this criticism on me out of the blue, and that I felt I couldn’t ask for clarification without sounding like I was confirming her accusation that I don’t accept feedback. That prof is a sweetheart, and I think if I offered her that info in good faith, in a kind way, she might share it as constructive criticism with the instructor, which I think would be helpful for future students. I don’t feel comfortable saying anything to the instructor because I feel like any interaction I have with her, she’s gonna perceive as argumentative and uncivil…seeing as I have no clue still what I did to get that on my eval. 
 

But most likely I’m just gonna let it go. It doesn’t actually affect me at all, and there’s a limit to how much I can advocate for future students. 

I've had similar experiences with a few people in authority over the decades and have learned that these people tend to have certain characteristics in common. They tend to be micromanagers, take offense if anyone questions them (insecure and misinterprets questions as criticism) and feels threatened by anyone who shows any type of leadership traits who is a subordinate. They are very hard to deal with and causes folks needless stress. Don't let them discourage you. Hang in there and complete your nursing program. Maybe one day you will be the supervisor of a person like this and you can help mold them into a better person.

 

NurseKatie08, MSN

Specializes in Geriatrics, Transplant, Education. Has 14 years experience. 754 Posts

On 7/17/2021 at 9:48 AM, meanmaryjean said:

"I would like to take this evaluation as a learning and growth opportunity. Would you (instructor) be open to a meeting to discuss your comments and recommend ways in which I might improve?"

I was going to suggest the same!

CommunityRNBSN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community health. Has 4 years experience. 741 Posts

Sounds like you made a good choice to let it go. I don’t know how your discussion about skin color went— since you did, on here, use the words “racist” and “BS,” I’m guessing the discussion didn’t exactly go well. But at any rate, she had it out for you after that (and maybe you weren’t as diplomatic as you could have been, or maybe she’s just a person who takes any questions at all as a personal attack) and now you can ignore and move on. And congrats on being almost done with school!