Ask Richard: Atheist Nursing Students Treated as Pariahs by Fellow Students January 22, 2010

Ask Richard: Atheist Nursing Students Treated as Pariahs by Fellow Students

Hello Richard!

I’m currently enrolled in nursing school in a college with no particular religious affiliation, but I seem to be having an existential crisis. My lab partner and I gave a (if I do say so myself) well thought out and very neutral presentation on the roles of spirituality in nursing. As a nurse you have to be prepared to encounter all types of spiritual beliefs, and sometimes we’re forced to answer some pretty hard questions. E.g: Why does god hate me? Why is he punishing me, etc. As an avid atheist, I was thrilled to write about this topic and presented it to the class with enthusiasm. At the end of the presentation, the topic of not judging a book by its cover was touched on, during which my partner and I asked the class, “What religion do you think us two are?”. When we mentioned we were atheists, the mood immediately turned sour. (Luckily it’s only a class of 13). During our Q & A segment, we were belted with questions that were accusatory and mean-spirited, but we took it in stride.

The next day, a classmate whom I had personally tutored that normally sat by me now refused. She sat on the complete other end of the classroom and refused to make eye contact. Hilariously enough, she was still able to tell someone else to ask me for my paper so they could copy the notes off of it, but that hypocrisy is beside the point.

During the 10 minute classroom break, I was walking to leave the building to get o my car when I could hear another 2 of my classmates screaming about how we were atheists and how wrong it was. I was in shock. I exited the building and they just stopped talking and glared at me.

Lately it has been harder and harder to get any of my classmates (except for the only other atheist in the class) to work with me. I don’t know how I can deal with this issue tactfully, either. A lot of the students are very very Christian/Baptist, and are downright bullying me. A lot of the staff have beliefs like that as well, so I don’t feel like they are safe to broach the topic with. Do you have any ideas how I can deal with their intolerance and bullying? I still have 12 more months with these people after all!

Thank you!
– Hopeless

Dear Hopeless,

It’s amazing how so many of the devotees of the Prince of Peace can instantly transform from adults with college-level intelligence into spiteful, sulking, snubbing, screaming pre-teens. Maybe they missed the Sermon on the Mount because they had a head cold that day. Or perhaps they all are without sin, as indicated by the stones they’re casting.

Unfortunately, so far I have never seen the tactic of confronting Christians with the un-Christian quality of such mistreatment to work. They merely dismiss it with an ad hominem argument that an atheist cannot credibly tell a Christian that they’re not living up to their creed’s precepts. That reasoning is faulty, but it also seems to be impermeable.

I shudder to think how as nurses they will treat their atheist patients who are helpless and at their “mercy.”

You mentioned that after the initial incident there has been subsequent “intolerance and bullying.” I don’t know what the severity of that is, but if it remains at the social snub/shun level, you may just have to endure it.

But do not return spite for spite. Basing your standard of conduct on others’ standards of conduct is a spiral that only goes downhill. If it does not put you in jeopardy or a disadvantage, continue to be available for tutoring the others, and continue to generously share your class notes for them to copy. Although this might have the effect of softening their antagonism toward you, that is not really the point. Continue your good natured helpfulness because it is your nature to do so.

However, being good natured does not include being a passive victim of serious discrimination.

Regardless of how mild or intense the acrimony is, I strongly suggest that you document everything. Nurses have excellent skills for documentation. Create a medical chart for this “patient,” your situation. If the condition worsens, you’ll have a history to show patterns and identify the specific pathogens. Meticulously write down dates, names, exact words and actions, the context of each incident, and how it is affecting you professionally and emotionally. Write everything keeping in mind that you may have to show this to people in authority or even a judge. Keep it professional and mature. Get your atheist comrade to do the same, and compare your notes so you don’t have glaring contradictions. Do not tell anyone else that you’re doing this.

If the animosity rises to an intensity where it unavoidably interferes with your ability to complete your tasks as a student, or to fulfill your assignments, or if it prejudicially affects your grades, then you should take your well-documented case to the Dean of the nursing school and the Dean of the college simultaneously. Whether or not they have similar religious beliefs as those of the pious students, the administration and the faculty still have the professional duty to provide all students an environment for a fair and equitable opportunity to learn, to excel, and to contribute to their field. If they do not respond satisfactorily, make it clear that you’ll be consulting a lawyer, perhaps from the ACLU.

If such a formal complaint to the Deans is not warranted, then maybe years from now your “patient’s” chart will make an interesting chapter in your memoirs.

In the meantime, stick with your god-free comrade. See if there is a secular student group in the larger college, and look for moral and social support in an atheist group outside of campus as well. Your nursing school may remain a hostile environment on a social level for the rest of your year there, and you will need emotional nursing to stay healthy and strong.

Atheists strive to base their behaviors on observable reality. We can think about, talk about, and work for a world that ought to be, one of fair treatment for all, but we must not be naïve. As wrong as it is in principle, the reality is that atheists in the U.S. are pariahs, socially acceptable targets of abuse. If we decide to “out” ourselves, we must be fully prepared for, and not surprised by, the ferocity of the consequences.

We can react to these painful experiences by becoming bitter and cynical, or we can learn from them to become more empathetic toward the downtrodden of any cut of cloth, such as despondent patients who, as you’ve described, are wondering why God hates them. We can respond with the good will, mercy and compassion that Jesus urged all people to show, even though we don’t believe he was divine.

I wish you the best in your education and your career. I think your future patients will be lucky to be in your care.


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  • It’s amazing how impossible it is for these morons to see their own hypocrisy.
    Are they going to give quality care ONLY to those with the same beliefs as theirs?

    I’d report the bitches for every little thing once you actually get on the job.

    But, then, I’m a spiteful bitch 😉

  • Your school almost certainly has an anti-harassment policy and that policy almost certainly protects against various forms of discrimination based on religion. While atheism may not be a religion in the strictest sense of the word, it will be treated as one by the school’s EEO office.

    If you file a harassment or EEO complaint, you should treat it like it is a very big deal. Richard’s advice is good in the event you go down that road — you should also be prepared to back up your claims and demonstrate a consistent pattern of discriminatory treatment. Ideally, you should also be able to point to instances of how your colleagues’ treatment has harmed you — hurt feelings count but a complaint is best when there is something more tangible than that to point to.

    In the meantime, make it a point to try to talk to your colleagues in a friendly manner. If the subject of religion and your lack of it comes up, tell them that you respect their religious preferences and beliefs and you would like it if they would treat you the same way.

    Finally, if your school offers a class on ethics or interpersonal skills for nursing (if it doesn’t, it should) make it a point to find the instructor and ask for a short appointment with him or her. Describe the incident and ask whether the class touches on things like dealing with religious or cultural differences between nurses and patients. Your colleagues will go on into the profession too and I hope that they at least are given some training in tolerance while dispensing medical care.

  • Siamang

    I’d probably just do passive-aggressive stuff like say things like:

    “yeah, I always though about becoming a Christian. In a lot of ways, it makes a lot of sense. But I don’t know. Are Christians always like you guys?”

    I’d just play on their ever-present guilt of not being a good enough Christian. It’s drummed into them that they’re responsible for getting as many souls signed up as they can. So if they’re down on their monthly quota, you can make them really nervous.

    Especially if you play some against the others. Find one to “confide” in. Be nice to them and get their sympathy. Get them to agree with you that the other one is a “bad example of Christian” and get them to show you that “not all Christians are like that.” They’ll turn on each other soon enough.

    You might get lucky and get someone who’ll be nice enough and mellow enough about the conversion thing to actually wind up being a true friend. And then they can defend you against the others. Nobody can wage the “You’re not being a good enough Christian” guilt trip better than a Christian.

    Of course, then they’ll face the same charge, that they’re not being a “true Christian”. But it won’t feel so bad, because you’ll be their friend.

    This is totally not the Richard kind of advice. You’re probably WAY better off doing it his way, especially as mine starts out being false and controlling.

  • littlejohn

    “Adults with college-level intelligence”?
    Nope. I realize this sounds elitist, but most nursing students are nothing of the sort.
    Most nursing schools are vo-tech schools for kids who couldn’t handle college-prep high school classes.
    The students are no more intellectual than the guys down at Joe’s auto repair school. In both cases, it’s generally a one-year program with no instruction outside of technical stuff. I live down the road from a community college with a nursing program and I’ve read their handbook. Useful for learning the task at hand, but hardly a well-rounded education.
    It’s not fair to expect one’s fellow nursing students to be philosophers.

  • TychaBrahe

    Littlejohn, you have no idea what you are talking about.

    There are many levels of nursing, there is a Nursing Assistant, which is the nurse equivalent of a Medical Assistant, which is very much like what you are talking about. There is a Licensed Practical Nurse, sometimes called a Licensed Vocational Nurse, which requires 18-24 months. And there are Registered Nurses, who have at the minimum a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. There are Advanced Practice Nurses such as Certified Nurse Midwives and Nurse Anesthetists, who have further training in their field, and Certified Nurse Practitioners, who have the equivalence of a Masters degree in nursing and have prescriptive powers in most states.

    Nurses are in general, highly trained and well educated.

  • Kit

    I am not sure how it is in the United States, but here in Canada my university offers a full four-year degree in nursing. Yes, some community colleges offer a certificate in nursing but there may be differences in the level they can get into in the profession (RN vs otherwise?). I automatically assumed the writer (who referred to having another year of schooling) was studying for her BScN.

    At my school, from the nurses I’ve met, they take more advanced biology courses earlier than our biology and medical science students (doing second year anatomy, etc in first year) and starting in second or third year add a clinical to their schedules, effectively taking more classes than most other programs.

  • That’s very unfair littlejohn. Yes, it does sound elitist. And why do you assume someone skilled at auto repair can’t be intellectual? I know a lot of nurses. Some with 2 year degrees, some with 4 years, some with graduate level degrees. The only thing in the state of Wisconsin you can get in one year is a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) certificate. The CNA doesn’t require a lot of in depth knowledge but more practical patient assisting.

    My ex is a nurse and I used to help her study. In a 2 or 4 year program (usually and LPN or RN) you get a lot on biology, cell function, and drug use and interaction. There are entire semesters devoted to medical technology from IV insertion to modern BP machines and defibrillators. It was very complex and technical. And that’s all before a nurse may chose to specialize in a specific area of care. Add a layer of stress to the job knowing that people’s lives are involved, not just their car or their lunch order.

    I think in any line of work you will find people who have the intellectual capacity to do their job but who still behave like spoiled children in a social or philosophical context. And you’ll also find nurses and auto techs out there who like to unwind at the end of the day by reading The God Delusion and Flatland.

    To characterize nursing students as those who were too dumb for college is arrogant and offensive.

  • Julie Marie

    littlejohn,you don’t sound elitist, you sound uninformed. and opinionated. Nursing programs aren’t fluffy or voc/tech level. Core classes include chemistry, organic chemistry, microbiology, nutrition – which is quite a bit of chemistry as well – anatomy and physiology…and that’s just for the associates degree. when you are learning how to assess and care for people at their most vulnerable time, when they cannot advocate for themselves, it is serious business.

    Perhaps you were looking at a brochure for nursing assistant training.

    Siamang, I’ve observed you taking the high road for a few years now. When you indulge your “go low” side, I have to smile.

  • aerie


    I graduated from a Tech College RN program & I can testify that it is a grueling 2 yr program. This was after dropping out of university (basically a party for me). After grad, I began nursing orientation in a hospital & it was well known that the new ‘university RNs’ were incapable of doing the most basic nursing procedures, i.e. drawing saline out of a bottle with a syringe, forget inserting catheters, IVs, NG tubes or proper documentation. And without a good orientation program as an RNapp they continued to struggle.

    The program did lack classes like Nursing Ethics or Interpersonal Behavior & they were needed. That was 20yrs ago & probably have been added to current programs. If Tech school RN programs want to maintain excellent board passing rates they must compete & they do that w/ intensive classroom and clinical courses. The ones that couldn’t handle the “college level HS preps” didn’t make it & were quickly weeded out. That being said, I can totally see this scenario in a Nursing program whether Tech or University. Ignorance & intolerance is everywhere regardless of setting.

  • littlejohn

    Whoe, relax! The article didn’t say it was a four-year bachelor’s program, did it? My mother was a registered nurse. I’m not uninformed.
    In my neighborhood, you can become a licensed practical nurse in one year; a nurse’s aide in six months. I’ve looked at the curriculum, and it is high-school level. I have no doubt some programs are more vigorous, but I doubt that most nurses study literature or philosophy.
    Obviously, the word “nurse” covers a wide range of educational attainment. I didn’t mean to offend anyone.
    Is anyone here really saying nurse training supplies you with the tools to refute the Ontological Argument? I’m just saying I would expect typical students seeking an LPN degree to be less sophisticated about theology than most college-level adults.
    Anyway, don’t argue with me. It was the person was the person who wrote Richard who said her classmates were bigoted louts, not I.

  • Hopeless, you can either ignore them, fight them, or join them.

    By ignoring them you would just have to “just suck it up” and take the harassment and don’t do anything. Perhaps over time, the shunning will not be so bad.

    By fighting them you would, as Richard said, need to take detailed notes and consider presenting it to the administration. This would be a risk, though, because it might not end well. You don’t want to be “tagged” as someone that can’t get along with religious people (even if the religious people are in the wrong).

    By joining them you could express an interest in learning about Christianity to one of your classmates and agree to go to church with them. After a couple of Sundays of doing this, you may find the tension level dramatically decreased. Every evangelical likes a good conversion project. With a little “playing along”, you might find those remaining months more tolerable and even make a friend or two among your primary accusers.

    Just do the option that is more natural for you.

  • Darwin’s Dagger

    littlejohn should go to the nursing school and talk down to all of the nursing students. Then the Christian nursing students and the atheists nursing students could bond over their hatred of a common enemy.

  • Siamang

    “Siamang, I’ve observed you taking the high road for a few years now. When you indulge your “go low” side, I have to smile.”

    Thanks. You’ll notice I chickened out at the end and submitted to the possibility that you could come out on the other side with a genuine friend.

  • gwen

    I’m a Registered Nurse, I have been one for a long time.I took COLLEGE level biology, microbiology, physiology, anatomy, chemistry. No, I didn’t take philosophy, but neither did my friend the Chemistry professor, or most of the doctors I work with. I am extremely knowledgeable in my field, but you wouldn’t expect me to be able to expertly fix my ailing car, would you?..but I can damn sure fix you, if you are at all fixable.

    When I was in nursing school, there was a student who insisted that EVERY patient she cared for, wanted to pray with her. I remarked that it was funny that no one else in the class gets that request. She was eventually reprimanded, as she was there to do care, and should have requested a chaplain to see to the spiritual needs. It was also interfering with her ability to do the work she was assigned to do. I shudder to think of what happened after she became licensed and cared for her first atheist. One of her first questions to her patients was to inquire about their religious beliefs.

  • nursejackie

    Hopeless, I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone; there are other atheist nurses. I’m a nursing student too, at a university in Canada. While I haven’t experienced anything nearly as bad as what you’re describing, I have had to endure a “spirituality” lecture from a Christian minister, Campus Crusade for Christ passing out pamphlets during class time, a professor who recommended that we all attend a Crusader event, and other assorted annoyances. I have felt upset, angry, and disappointed with the intrusion of superstition into what was billed as a science program. Looking for a secular group on campus is great advice! I found a great group that’s affiliated with the Secular Student Alliance. It made me feel a lot better to have like-minded people to talk to.

  • Jasel


    I just finished my LPN program (12 months) January 5 of this year. This is after getting a BA after 4 years in a University. The work i did in my LPN program was far more involved, grueling, and required MUCH more dedication than anything I ever had to do at my University or in high school. I’m not sure if you do sound elitist but you definitely sound pretty uninformed. Tests/quizzes/final every day in the class and learning clinical skills, especially with no health care background, is an extremely unnerving and hard experience.

    I also don’t remember learning anything in nursing school that i learned in high school. Unless you want to count the math but besides that? You really come off as someone who has no idea what they’re talking about.

    But back to the article, I kept my atheism to myself except for a close friend in the program because I figured what happened to these two would most likely happen to me. And while it wasn’t a religious program by any means there were just a few too many “Praise Jesus!” and teachers talking about their faith and god (not frequently but enough to weird me out). I can only think of one teacher who didn’t really bring up her opinion regarding god/faith/etc and sometimes it could be a bit awkward.

    It’s unfortunate because as a nurse you are NOT supposed to judge people based on their religious beliefs, ethnicity, etc etc. Clearly these are future nurses who will not be the cream of the crop.

  • flatlander100


    You wrote: “One of her first questions to her patients was to inquire about their religious beliefs.”

    Some years ago, an atheist colleague of mine was admitted to Our Lady of The Lake Catholic Hospital. There for hernia surgery, and not at all in a good mood. A nun who was a nurse came to his room to get some intake information, and as part of that process, asked him his religious affiliation. He grouchily barked “Druid.” Without missing a beat, she asked sweetly “Reformed or Orthodox?”

    He laughed. She smiled and said “I’ll just put down ‘none,’ alright?”

    Nothing like a nurse with a sense of humor.

  • Tizzle

    While not acknowledging littlejohn’s assessment to be accurate, I will state that when I was a math tutor of community college nursing students, it felt accurate. Of all the students there, it seemed like nursing students whined the most about having to pass college algebra. I eventually honed a little speech about how they might mix my medication someday and I thought they should be able to do math.

    To Hopeless: nurses can pretty much go anywhere in the country after they get a degree, often with a signing bonus. Perhaps you might consider moving to a more progressive town once you get through all that bs.

  • ursulamajor

    I really do think that she should at some point ask her fellow students, “If you treat me like this because I’m an atheist, how are you going to treat a patient who is atheist or muslim or wiccan? If you’re not going to be able to treat your patients with respect and caring, no matter what their religious viewpoints, you need to seriously reconsider if helping people really is your mission in life.”

  • muggle

    littlejohn, I think, I hope anyway and giving you the benefit of the doubt, you just worded that badly. I really hope you don’t think what it seems to imply, in any case, beyond nursing — that one needs to have a college degree to be intelligent. You say nurse training doesn’t supply you “with the tools to refute the Ontological Argument” as if you can’t learn it if you didn’t learn it in school. I beg to differ.

    I never went past high school formally but I’ve always had a curious mind and have been educting myself all my life. I listen to people because I’m honestly interested in their take on things. If I’m addicted to anything, it’s books. I can’t go a day without reading and have to carry a purse large enough to hold a hardcover because I cannot be bookless. I’ve been complimented on my self-education I don’t know how many times by people surprised that I never went to college. But I guess all that doesn’t count if I didn’t get a degree. Right?

    And you insulted auto mechanics even more than you did nurses. You know they aren’t all brain dead stoners. That’s, ahem, a stereotype. Seems to be a lot of people with a lot of letters following their name need a mechanic when anything goes wrong with their cars. Or are you just dissing what people choose to educate themselves on? In which case, I have to wonder why you’re dissing people who have decided to learn how to care for ill and injured others. Especially if your mother was an RN.

    “I think your future patients will be lucky to be in your care.”

    I agree. Not least of all because she and her partner for this classroom exercise actually learned something about being sensitive to patients’ spiritual needs, which was apparently lost on those fellow students actually claiming to be spiritual.

  • aerie

    This reminds me of when I worked in ICU & was caring for a particularly sick, unconcious patient & this chaplain kept coming in my room unannounced wanting to pray over him (w/very sick pts we would do our charting & work in the pt’s room at bedside). By the end of my stressful 12hrs I’d had enough & I went off on him & told him next time to call me first to make sure it was a good time. He scurried off & all the other staff thought I was a heartless bitch! They made me feel so guilty that I apologized to the annoying little chaplain & gave the ‘stress’ excuse. Ugh. I’m not proud as it was NOT my best moment but even atheists have their breaking point. The patient died despite all my hard work AND all his prayers.

  • Jeanne

    I’ve been a nurse for 17 years, and I very rarely speak with any of my patients or colleagues about my atheism. I feel that spirituality is a personal decision – I don’t have to share it with others, and I usually try to steer the conversation away from the topic if others bring up theirs. Most often, patients and families want the comfort of another human being’s presence. Very rarely does anyone ever make a request for prayer or a chaplain/priest, even if they were dying.

  • Heidi

    I agree with Muggle. The idea that having or lacking a college degree is in any way related to your level of intelligence is laughable. George W. Bush has a BA in history from Yale and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Raise your hand if you think he qualifies as intelligent.


    That said, I’m going to be nitpicky and say that I really hope that Hopeless actually used better grammar than

    “What religion do you think us two are?”.

    if this was indeed a college level presentation.

  • Sarah

    littlejohn, the physician I work for has a PhD in biology and is board certified by the state – but he can’t spell words like “insomnia” and “business.”

    I attended a technical school for medical billing, and I found the students to be well-rounded and diverse. The courses were nothing to sneeze at – memorizing and understand medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, accounting, and advanced coding (where you must interpret procedure and diagnosis orders given to you by physicians – this entitles a full study of the human body and all of its systems). It’s not for those who are intellectually weak or slow, especially when you work in a field where you are dealing with the lives of others – not to mention their money! Also, you must become certified every single year to work in your field – if you want a decent job.

    As for philosophy/theology, that should be covered in medical ethics. It might not be the ivory tower philosophies that are mostly useless in real life, but it covers the basics – how to deal with and accept human beings at all stages in medical care.

    As for nursing, that usually requires a degree from a university. If you want to be an aid to a nurse, you can usually do that with a certificate from a community college.

  • Aforementioned Pariah

    Wowie, this is my letter!
    Thank you so much, Richard, for your always thoughtful and heartfelt answer!
    I, too, am afraid of the result of my less than enlightened classmates engaging patients about their religious views and finding out what a big big world it actually is out there. I’m actually excited for clinicals in hopes that they get a good old fashioned talking to from an atheist or a muslim or even a 7th day adventist! Ha.

    Luckily, a few days after writing this letter, I had a confrontation with 2 of the students who had been harassing me the most. After much yelling and a few interjections from other classmates who actually supported me, we managed to work out that we were going to be stuck together for a long time, and perhaps we should think of putting our differences aside for the sake of keeping our sanity.
    That’s not to say that they haven’t reneged on their words. I’m still constantly interrupted when I speak to the class, or to the teacher during class. It’s the little things they do that make me really wonder how they can uphold the delusion that they’re being good christians.

    The idea of charting the incidences is GENIUS! And would make a fabulous addition to my term paper on an expansion of the role of spirituality in patient care! I LOVE IT! Thank you so much. I can’t wait to grab a little black book and keep track of the impertinent brats.

    Needless to say, I’m going to sew a pair of Slayer scrubs, maybe even shave my head, just something to shake them up.

    As for littlejohn, I don’t blame you for your assumption. THere are many people who attempt to join the nursing career with attitudes like that. I’ve had them in class. They don’t make it, don’t worry. Occasionally, a dumb nurse slips under the radar, but state boards really do weed them out. PSA: If you put a family member in a home, get to know the nurses. They’re the lifeline.

    I apologize, Heidi, for writing the letter in so much of a hurry that I misquoted our presentation and ended up sounding rather goofy for it. I’m sure I didn’t say anything too much more eloquent than that, but you can rest assured it am better than that there sentence I say we said. :p

    Thank you everyone for your amazing contribution and advice! I’m trying to go the route of being a better christian, without even being a christian. Go team guilt trip! Wish me luck as I float off onto the sea of foam fingers carrying me away!

  • Atheist Scumbag

    Call of the ACLU dawgs Richard! I think it’s gonna be ok.

  • Yay – we’re off to a happy ending…my favourite kind 🙂

  • Slayer scrubs! Awesome!

  • muggle

    Go, Pariah, go! Sounds like you’ll be an excellent nurse and, in the end, that’s what matters.

  • I find this just bizarre, and so foreign, not only to the Christians I know, but indeed, the total opposite scenario of Australia and the UK..

  • Perhaps it’s the problem with cultivating cultural christianity (i.e. moralising) rather than real, spirtual Christianity

  • B.C.

    Richard, thank you so much for the encouragement and great ideas, and a HUGE thanks to all the nurses on here. It’s a lonely feeling being a nursing student and an atheist.

    Dear Hopeless/Pariah,
    I’m excited to hear that you are making some forward progress in your situation and beginning to dialog with your classmates. Also, I’m so very proud of you that you gave the presentation that you did and fearlessly came out as an atheist.

    I’m in my last semester of nursing school (huzzah!) and I would urge your to stay on the high road when communicating with your peers. Show them in lab, clinical, and lecture that you have empathy and integrity as well as brains and skill.

    Meet with your faculty — maybe the one who witnessed the incident that occurred at your presentation.
    If you were in a big university lecture class with 200 students it would be easy to quietly disappear, but nursing school is structured with countless little groups. Group dynamics and cohesiveness are vital, in my opinion, to a positive experience in nursing school (and beyond). I regret that it is on your shoulders to fight for this — the nursing program is difficult enough. Get help from a faculty member if you can.

    Kindest Regards,

  • Bob

    This is going to sound kinda hardcore but that’s the way I get when I see alleged professionals behaving badly, especially when those bad actors may one day be responsible for someone’s health and wellbeing.

    My brief advice would be to out-professional them. Nursing is a profession with ethical standards and professional responsibilities. In class as well as on the job, you’ll have to deal with a lot of irrelevant stressful bullshit which – if you let it – will interfere with providing care.

    The next time one of these assholes pulls some juvenile horseshit, ask yourself – What Would A Professional Do? Then do that.

    It is perfectly reasonable to demand (not ask) they treat you in a professional manner, despite them hating your guts. If you can internalize that acting as a professional is a position of strength, and if you can make that confidence, strength, and professionalism apparent to both instructors and classmates, this will not only make you look like better nurses, it will actually make you better nurses.

    So definitely continue documenting their behavior, but don’t waste time arguing or retaliating or bargaining with them. Outshine them. No need to rub their noses in it; the people who matter will soon see you’re better nurses and better people than your detractors are.

    Speaking as a potential patient, I couldn’t give two shits if my nurse is Catholic, Baptist, Raelian, Muslim or agnostic, provided they are effective and professional.

  • Anonymous

    I’m kind of surprised those nurses required the reminder about having to mix medication in the future. The two-year nursing programs around here require the student to pass a dose-calculations test (basic algebra) before he or she can even enter, and I know that BSN programs require math courses. I’m NOT surprised about the whininess, though — one of my closest friends is a nurse educator, and the stories she’s told me about the entitled attitude and complaining in her classes are astounding. (And, sadly, the stories she’s told me about her co-workers’ attitudes in regard to religion are nothing short of hair-raising.)

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