College students today face intense pressure, pressure to fit in, to maintain relationships, to make their parents proud, to succeed, etc. Sometimes the pressure can be too much, and students turn to various vices and/or give into different temptations.
Consider Marie, the nursing student who is taking a full course load while trying to work full time and balance a social life. She is used to academic success and strives to maintain A’s and B’s at any cost. The pressure she puts on herself, the pressure she feels from her parents, etc., gets to be too much for her at times and she finds herself giving into temptation all around her. Marie often studies with a group of her classmates, however, sometimes this provides a whole new avenue for Marie to give into temptation. One of Marie’s classmates uses stimulants such as Ritalin to help her stay awake and study. Another classmate in the study group finds that having two nights a week to go out and binge drink is her only way of coping with the intense stress and pressures of nursing school. These temptations are increasingly difficult for Marie to avoid.
Marie has also struggled with an opioid addiction in the past. Towards the end of high school, Marie suffered a shoulder injury which led to surgery and months of opioid pain medication. Marie’s teammates began using opioids around the same time. This was a period of Marie’s development where her friends and her social surroundings were how she identified herself. Let’s consider Marie’s experiences with regards to Erik Erikson’s developmental theory. Unfortunately, because she identified with these less than positive behaviors and friendships, she did not develop a strong sense of self. As she entered young adulthood, as with most other people, she desired intimacy and relationship with others. But, “intimacy with other people is possible only if a reasonably well integrated identity” (Sharkey, 1997), is developed in the adolescent stage of Identity vs Identity Confusion.
So where does that leave Marie now? Well, she has a history of substance use as a vice. To avoid pain, she used opioids. To connect with teammates or friends, she continued her opioid use until it became substance abuse. Marie’s vice is drugs and/or alcohol. She lacks a strong will to avoid these substances, especially in times where the pressure is intense.
Marie’s study group adds an element of temptation in the sense that her classmates are turning to their own individual vices. This creates an environment of temptation that is exponential since the individuals all struggle with similar vices.
One of the nursing classes the group is enrolled in has an element of clinical hours. The students are expected to complete ten clinical hours on Thursdays. Marie and her classmates were up most of the night, Wednesday, using Ritalin and other substances to keep them going. They report to clinical on Thursday morning at 7am and one of the clinical instructors notices their appearance and general affect. The instructor begins to wonder if the girls are hungover, still under the influence, or just too tired for clinical. It would seem this instructor has several options. She could do nothing at all, thus potentially opening the patients, other students, and Marie and her friends up for liability since the group is clearly struggling. On the other hand, she can trust her suspicion and could ask the students to leave clinical, go to student health, get drug-tested and only return when not apparently under the influence. Or, she can use this as an opportunity to positively influence this group of students by still asking them to be drug tested but also providing some guidance as far as goal-setting goes so that these students perhaps do not feel the need to turn to substances to succeed in nursing school. Ultimately, as their leader in this situation, the instructor is the person with the influence and the opportunity to determine the direction this group will go (PSU, 2018). The instructor could consider her own personal values as well as those of the nursing school. She must consider both what is right or wrong as well as what is in the best interest of Marie and her study group, the other students, as well as the patients and nursing school in general.
PSU. (2018). PSY533: L01 Ethical Leadership. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1913945/pages/l01-ethical-leadership?module_item_id=25041756
PSU. (2018). PSY533: L02 Vices and Temptations. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1913945/pages/l02-vices?module_item_id=25041767
Sharkey, W. (1997). Erik Erikson. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20171007080115/http://www.muskingum.edu/~psych/psycweb/history/erikson.htm#Theory