PRCC Nursing students file grievances with nursing department

Published 6:59 pm Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Students in the nursing program at Pearl River Community College filed complaints on Tuesday with a grievance committee consisting of PRCC faculty and staff.

The class of 45 students, who are in their fourth and final semester of the Registered Nursing program at PRCC, were complaining about several issues, including a final exam given in a class called Psychiatric Nursing. According to the students, the Psychiatric Nursing final was unfair and not based on information covered in the class or in the book utilized in the class. As a result, all 45 students failed the exam this past Friday.

“A passing grade is an 80, and the highest grade in the whole class was a 78. … We would just like to give the faculty the opportunity to rectify this situation,” said Summer Bauer, one of the students in the class.

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Not only did the students fail the Psychiatric Nursing final exam, but over half the class failed the semester overall, Bauer said. The students would not comment on the other specific grievances, however.

Melissa Henry, another fourth-year student, said that while some students may get the opportunity to repeat the semester’s course work next semester, other students are already repeater students who will not be given another opportunity.

Linda Guillett, a repeater student, said she will not be allowed to return to the program if the failing grades stand.

“The questions for the final did not apply to the book taught during the course. I think these issues need to be brought to light and resolved,” Guillett said.

Guillett emphasized that while there are good instructors in the nursing program, she feels some of the instructors are unfairly harsh on students.

“Some of the teachers are verbally abusive, demeaning and even threatening during these classes. You could not approach them to ask questions, and there was no recourse when we were intimidated,” Guillett said. “A select few made the situation more difficult than it should be.”

Joyce Martin, a nurse practitioner who was a nursing instructor during the 2005-’06 school year, said she noticed problems with some of the instructors, which ultimately caused her to resign her position.

“I witnessed a clinical group dismissed one time because the instructor did not tell the students to bring basins to practice giving bed baths. When the students did not have their basins, the instructor got mad and started yelling at them and dismissed them. They were scared they would fail because they did not get their lesson on a bed bath. I showed some of them on my own personal time how to give a bed bath, and then I was called into the director’s office the next day and told not to do that again,” Martin said.

Other students were nervous about speaking publicly about their grievances and the things they witnessed because they feared retribution if they were allowed back into the program next semester.

Larita Campos, a student who failed the semester, said she is worried that if she is allowed to come back that she may be punished for speaking out about her complaints.

Dr. Adam Breerwood, Dean of Student Services, said the grievance committee hearing on Tuesday was to give the students an opportunity to speak about their complaints without fear of retribution.

“We care about student concerns. I have always preached that students are first here. If they have any grievances, we want to do what we can do to give students due process,” Breerwood said.

The grievance committee consists of five faculty and staff members from several different areas of the college.

“We do take student learning seriously, and are doing the best we can to determine the appropriate steps and what if anything needs to be done,” Dr. John Grant, Vice President for Instruction, said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon.

In a phone interview Wednesday morning, Public Relations Director Chuck Abadie said the grievance committee ruled that the nursing students will be allowed to retake the final exam, but did not have any further information at the time.