Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Nursing student fails class twice. Sues university...

Here's a standard disclaimer.  What I am about to write comes directly from a short article I read on Yahoo!  I know I may be missing a lot of information, but what the hell.  That never stopped me from opining before, right?

This morning, I learned of the sad situation nursing student Jennifer Burbella finds herself in.  Burbella started a BSN program at Misericordia University in Pennsylvania back in 2010.  She struggled toward finishing the degree because she has problems with anxiety, poor concentration, and depression.  Her conditions were severe enough that she needed special accommodations in order to take her exams.

Burbella is suing her university for $75,000 because she claims her professor didn't do enough to accommodate her.  She has twice failed Functional Health Patterns of Adults IV, a required class that nursing students must pass with a "C" in order to get credit.  During a recent exam, Burbella apparently "broke down and wept" because her professor didn't do enough to "help" her.

Now, I don't know what Burbella's actual issues are.  I am also all for helping students with disabilities succeed.  In fact, in my social work graduate program, one of my classmates was a blind woman who had a service animal (an adorable golden retriever named Grover) with her for every class and had to take her exams orally.  She successfully completed the program and she and Grover marched across the stage at graduation with the rest of us.

That being said, I have to wonder if maybe Burbella should reconsider her career choice.  Given what is required of nurses and the high pressure environment they can find themselves in, I think Burbella may be a poor fit for that career.  It's true that some nurses work in administrative positions, but usually that comes after some time on the front lines tending to patients.  Nurses work long hours in very stressful conditions.  They often have to think on their feet and make quick decisions that don't allow for tears or second guessing.  Lives depend on what nurses do.  They have to be up to the task or there could be tragic repercussions.
There have to be standards in a degree program, otherwise the degree will be worthless.  The whole purpose of pursuing a qualification through a degree program is to prove to the public that you know what you're doing.  Personally, I wouldn't want a nurse tending to me who weeps during final exams and suffers from such anxiety and depression that she has to have special accommodations.  Unless, of course, Burbella's issues are temporary.  If that's the case, perhaps she should have taken some time off from school.  Generally speaking, the actual job of nursing won't allow for special accommodations; therefore the degree program probably shouldn't, either.    

I think if Misericordia University is guilty of anything, it's admitting Burbella to the program in the first place and allowing her to get as far as she did.  She probably should have been counseled toward finding a more appropriate career path.  If anything, Misericordia University is guilty of taking tuition from someone who is not suited to be a nurse. 

Again, I don't know more specifics about this case than anyone else does, so it's possible that there's a lot more to the story than what has been reported.  But based on what I've seen so far, this case appears to be pretty frivolous.  And really, if a test in college makes Burbella cry, imagine what the state nursing boards will do to her.    


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