Xavier says nurses are just numbers

By Griffin Brammer, Staff Writer

Xavier’s curriculum teaches nursing students the importance of a holistic approach to nursing. This means that a nurse should learn to care for the whole patient, not just the area that’s hurting. This is ironic, because the College of Nursing is not holistic in regard to its own students. Mental wellbeing is not a high priority for the College of Nursing. It’s all against one and one for themself. 

Since this sentiment has been said to death, I will be brief when I say that nursing is a high-stress environment. Clinicals, labs and a whole textbook for just nursing diagnoses: It’s a lot to take in, especially in such a short amount of time. All worth it for one of the best programs in all the state of Ohio, right? 

You’d expect a university that prides itself on its nursing program would want their student nurses to succeed. Unfortunately, success doesn’t matter unless it’s the college’s success. As long as that 98% post-graduation career rate stays up, the College of Nursing doesn’t  care who ends up in the psych ward along the way. A few fallen students is a small price to pay so long as admission rates stay high, I suppose. 

Recently, the school of nursing went along with a decision that changed the term “patient” to “client” instead. It’s an unpopular decision among some students, as it seems to imply that the “client” is only there to give the hospital money, not receive treatment. This idea of giving versus receiving is suspiciously present in Xavier’s nursing school. Nursing students are no longer Xavier’s patients; now, we’re their clients.  

There is no room for individuality in the nursing program. You are merely part of a whole — a number rather than a name. We are required to give so much while receiving so very little in return. They’re providing us with an obscene amount of content and expecting students to know everything with no room for error by the next class. 

When I was pulled out of class by my nursing professor and told that my mental health was a distraction to the other students learning, I started to cry. How could MY mental health, something so exclusive and impactful to only myself, be affecting others? How could we be on such a tight timeframe that a struggling student is treated as a nuisance, rather than a concern that needs to be looked out for?  

I was confused, but that confusion turned to anger. 

My professor’s prognosis was to talk to TriHealth before I could come back to class. I told her I would, but first turned the opposite direction of the elevator to grab a tissue. “Are you going to TriHealth or not?” she said. 

One of the many roles of the nurse is an educator, and when educating a patient, a therapeutic tone is vital. So why is it, then, that a nurse must use a therapeutic vernacular with their patient, but when a nurse teaches a class of students, that language is dropped completely?  

Why is it that, every time I’ve struggled with my mental health, the nursing staff has called me the same thing? A distraction. An issue. An inhibitor to education. Though I recognize that my instructors may not have meant the tone their words carried, I now often sit in silence when confused about content or curriculum, afraid that I might get too overwhelmed again and be called the problem child of Xavier nursing.  

The College of Nursing wants complacency. They want silence. Xavier wants their nursing students to grin and bear it, because to them, a healthy nurse is a happy nurse. To them, if a student nurse doesn’t outwardly exhibit signs of struggling, it’s justifiable to cram content down their throat. And don’t you dare think of prioritizing your mental health over your classes, because the nursing curriculum is more than happy to remind you that you will be kicked out if your GPA gets too low.   

There is no accountability in the program. Last year, I was taught the importance of self care, and Xavier has relied too heavily on trusting students to take care of themselves. However, we can’t always be expected to take care of ourselves. It’s so unreasonably hard to even bring yourself out of bed sometimes. Considering my previous experiences with talking to my professors about mental health, however, I think I’d prefer rotting in bed. If I can’t help myself, and the college has created a culture of coldness, who can I ask for help? No one. Instead, I am left to fall deeper into my own detriment.  

They think they are creating independence, but instead they created an atmosphere of apathy — one where the first-year student learns about transcultural nursing, nephron loops and how to put their mental health on the back burner, because the Xavier College of Nursing simply does not care.  

Last year, spending a week in the Good Samaritan hospital’s psych ward, I was desperate to get better and get out, but not for myself. My biggest concern was how much time I would have to make up and the anatomy exams I was missing. Even now, heavy bags hanging under my eyes and my brain aching from the hot blood that flows through it after every nursing lecture, I feel hopeless for this college. You hear the same stories from every generation of student nurses. Like I said, we’re all the same here. I’ll always be just a number.