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“It’s Time For Your Evaluation”

October 22nd, 2010 by – Marijke Durning

Is there a more stress-inducing phrase for an employee than “it’s time for your evaluation”? Perhaps, but that would likely be “we’re reevaluating our workforce….”

Nurses and student nurses are subjected to evaluations throughout the course of their studies and their career. After all, we need to know what we’re doing right and what we could work on so we can do better. For some nurses, evaluations are reinforcement they’re doing well and for others, it’s important for them to learn (if they don’t know already) that there are problems they need fix. But, the idea of an evaluation is so stressful sometimes that the negatives may far outweigh the benefits.

Effective evaluations

What makes a good, effective evaluation? A good evaluation isn’t necessarily one that tells you that you’re doing fabulously in nursing school or your work as a floor nurse is beyond reproach. A good evaluation focuses on not only your good work, but on areas where you could learn and grow. Even the best nurse can always find something worth working on, right?

A good evaluation details your strengths and your weaknesses. It has firm statements that can be backed up with solid examples. All statements should be verifiable and free of any possible bias. This is an evaluation of your work, not you as a person.

Balanced evaluations

There are no perfect nurses, but there are some who could use a lot more help than others in order to raise their level of ability. When giving an evaluation to someone who needs to work on several issues, it’s important to balance out the evaluation. Unless someone is bad enough to fire, then there must be something that the nurse or student is doing well.

While some may seem this as grasping at straws or being unrealistic, it’s not. If someone sits in front of you and reviews an evaluation that is essentially all negative, with little positive mentioned, this can leave a sense of “is there anything I do right?”, leaving the person quite discouraged.

Being on the receiving end, nursing student evaluation

Remember that receiving evaluations is part of the system. If working hard to get through nursing school, you need these to find out if your interpretation of your growth as a student is the same as what your teacher sees. At the end of a clinical day, you may feel that your nursing instructor nagged you the whole time, always on your case. But in your evaluation, you may learn that the teacher thought you were doing a great job, but just needed to be kept on track a bit.

If you aren’t doing well and your evaluation is less than what you hoped it would be, it may be difficult to sit and listen to what your teacher has to say. After all, no-one likes to be criticized. This is where you put on your big-girl panties (or big boy!) and act like a future nurse. Accept the criticisms and ask for advice on how to improve. If your teacher isn’t specific, ask if he or she could be. It’s easier to learn when you know exactly what you’re looking for.

Take that information, as unpleasant as it may be, and make an action plan. How are you going to take this evaluation and use it to your benefit? Don’t be afraid to ask for help from fellow students, the evaluating instructor, and other instructors.

Nursing evaluation, employee

Annual or twice-a-year nurse evaluations aren’t uncommon in the hospital system. Sometimes they’re issued by charge nurses, other times they may be peer evaluations.  Truthfully, the advice given to the student nurses isn’t that different from in the working world. If there are comments about your work, suggestions of areas where you need improvement, you need to look at yourself and your work to see from where these criticisms evolve.

And what if you don’t agree with your evaluation? Come back next week when we discuss this very topic.

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Posted in On-the-Job Fears

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and is intended as a supplement, not as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.