Friday, August 17, 2007

Thoughts on Sanction Regulation

It is not my intention to antagonize anyone with this post. I might raise eyebrows, as soon as some people read the title, but by virtue of my right to free speech I think I deserve to say what I have to say.

The word “sanction” strikes fear in the hearts of Nursing students, who in their second year will start their Related Learning Experiences- a course which basically introduce the most basic Nursing practices, under the tutelage of Clinical Preceptors. More often than not, if one is given a sanction, it means an hour or two of what can only be described as “forced community service”. Let me explain further- for Levels 3 and 4 if one missed a day of hospital duty, they will require you two days make-up. Fair enough, yes? At this point, it is necessary for each student to complete the required hours in order to comply with the course requirements. For Level 2 however, they are not yet exposed to the hospital setting, and making up for a sanction will probably mean mopping the floors or cleaning classrooms during the semester break.

The rationale behind the issuance of sanctions seems logical- to promote discipline as early as the 2nd Level. Without regulations however, the arbitrary nature of the issuance opens an avenue for power tripping (I’m not naming names, nor saying that this happens all the time, but this does happen and is bound to happen while there are no regulations). The usual scenario is this: the offense is seen by the Clinical Preceptor, he/ she calls the attention of the student, and makes a note of what he/ she thinks is the appropriate sanction. It sounds fair enough, until almost every minor thing is listed- from the way one holds a Stethoscope to accidentally leaving a notebook in the classroom. These “offenses” are often unintentional, and calling the attention of the student would probably suffice. I mean, it’s not as if the student had malice in mind when he left the notebook by accident.

My second point is this: even the Clinical preceptors themselves are not in the same page as to what the proper sanction is on specific offenses. We all know students are not allowed to use their phones or Ipods while on RLE time; if they are on break, are they allowed to use them? There was already one instance when an item (I’m not going to elaborate further) was returned because a student complained that the other Clinical Preceptor who confiscated the item did it in the time of the student’s break. This left me confused, is it truly that arbitrary? Then if a certain Clinical Preceptor happens to be in a bad mood, will that entail harsher sanctions? We cannot say for sure because there is no written document that puts us all, students and Clinical Preceptors alike, in the same page. Yes, we have our Student Manual, but the corresponding sanctions are not listed here.

I racked my minds for possible answers to this dilemma, and I recalled some instances back when I was working. Let us consider this situation:

When an agent commits an offense, say for excessive tardiness or a substandard quality score, the first thing that is done is Coaching. It is necessary to explain why the behavior should not continue, and mind you this is done respectfully.

When a Corrective Action needs to be served, the agent must place his/her signature on the document that states that he understands why a sanction is given and what he can do to improve his behavior.

Labor laws make sure that due process is followed, and they protect both the agent and the employer. By following the standard procedures, we are sure no one abuses their power, and no one gets abused.

I am aware that these are two very different situations; nevertheless I think the latter might provide clues as to what changes should be done. I can think of two things:

1. A written document that officially states the offenses and corresponding sanctions. Not like the student manual but something more specific (ex. Tardiness--- 1 hour, Unexcused Absence--- 4 hours, etc.). This should be decided in a formal convention with both student representatives and Clinical Preceptors present. This will put us all in the same page, literally.

2. Coaching should be part of the SOP. And not those baleful stares but rather a clear explanation of why the sanction was issued, and get the commitment of the student to improve his/ her behavior.

It might sound tedious, but I believe it will be effective. Allowing students to think on their own why a certain type of behavior is not allowable leads them to mature a little bit and learn, instead of harboring ill feelings and bad blood. It also shows good faith of the Clinical Preceptors in the students- that they trust them enough to correct their behavior, not by using harsh punishments their power can allow but by showing a fine example of mature and grown-up behavior.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

hahahah... well said Thad! hope you'll not be kick out by your UPian way in st. scho. For me, I think, It's OK, BUT you'll never know what will be the consequence of your actions and it might lead to your downfall.Although, your intention is good, and so far, your approach is polite enough(just tunedown a little bit on the choice of words) for the mentors to understand you. Enjoy
st. scho nala! Gud nyt...heheheh

Phoenix said...

@ anonymous: Thanks. I don't think it's ever about being UPian or being Scholastican, my being vocal. I just thought that we could still make improvements in the system that is implemented now. I guess few people would come out and say it, but I am pretty sure a lot of them share the same sentiments. = ) So, again just an emphasis that I'm not here to cause trouble or antagonize anyone.. just merely offering my POV = )

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