Want to get kicked out of nursing school? Display a placenta on Facebook.
The shorter version of this story tells of a director of nursing named Jeanne Walsh arbitrarily booting a student named Doyle Byrnes (right) from the from the nursing program at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas only a few months short of graduation. Her heinous offence? She published on Facebook (with her instructor’s permission, mind you) a photograph of herself beside an anonymous placenta. In the letter of expulsion Walsh was brutal, yet undoubtedly fair — at least in her own mind. She wrote Byrnes: “Your demeanor and lack of professional behavior surrounding this event was considered a disruption to the learning environment and did not exemplify the professional behavior that we expect in the nursing program.”
I am mystified and not only by the Walsh’s evasive, accountability-shifting use of the passive voice. All I see here is an obviously excited, eager student with the “shiny shultz” side of the placenta showing in a tray.* Bad taste? Debatable. It’s certainly no worse than reality television. It’s not as though she’s swinging the thing around by the umbilical cord. Maybe instead of the contagious grin, she should be frowning at it slightly. Is there some gross violation of nurse-placenta confidentiality I’m missing? What, did the placenta call to complain about its treatment?
JCCC says it’s “a lesson hard learned.” Indeed, but not the one the school probably thinks it’s sending: the lesson is that nursing is filled with inexplicable decisions and finding out after the fact you did something Bad. This student can carry that lesson with her, but is it really one our nursing schools should be teaching? Can they not teach something more like “here’s an opportunity for education regarding healthcare and social media”?
Yep, indeedy, that pretty well sums up this school’s competency. No warning letter, no chance at remediation, just straight out the door. Nothing like grabbing the figurative axe for fixing a problem — and incidentally demonstrating the nasty underbelly of nursing. Makes you wonder how this school reacts when a student actually does something serious.
So a few conclusions: first, Johnson County Community College’s nursing program is probably — well, let’s be kind and damn with faint praise: they do their very best, despite having no sense of proportionality — or humour. Second, higher degrees in nursing are evidently not guarantees of effective skills in either nursing education and administration. Third, we often talk about nurses eating their young. After seeing this story and hearing about others like it — and it truly pains me to say this — I’m beginning to wonder if the source lies in nursing educators inculcating those old-fashioned nursing “values.” You know, the ones that say arbitrary and unjust behaviour, back-stabbing and treating nurses as expendable are acceptable. After all, isn’t this a classic example of how colleagues and superiors knee-cap young nurses and students?
*Note to AtYourCervix: I was not sleeping all the time during my Obs/Gyne rotation.