Students complain about Nursing Department amid transitions

By Juan Calvillo

Lynn Hang started Nursing classes at ELAC in spring of 2022, and by semester’s end, she had failed out and was no longer able to take nursing courses in the Los Angeles Community College District. 

The district procedure for students who fail out of the first semester of nursing is to no longer allow them to attend nursing courses within the district.

In the spring of 2022, and during the second eight weeks of Hang’s course work, Safari Sekiyoba was in charge of teaching students Nursing 265, Fundamentals of Nursing. Hang said many second and third semester students had warned her cohort of Sekiyoba’s unique teaching style. She said the groups said Sekiyoba was not clear or concise in his teaching.

Hang said at the onset of the course Sekiyoba taught from PowerPoint slides that were made by the book company. He was of little help to students when it came to providing important study points. Hang said the first test came back with very low scores. 

The nursing students asked the professor what exactly they could do to increase their odds of doing better on the next test. 

The professor told them that they could use Sherpath, a program for nursing students to do work on, to help them prepare. 

Hang said at the beginning of the term, Sekiyoba said the program was optional for the class. The second test results were also low. Hang said as class representative she raised concerns about Sekiyoba’s class during a faculty meeting in the Nursing Department. This meeting included Director Brenda Chan, professors and members of student cohorts. Hang said the class asked her to present the situation and ask for help from the department.

Hang said the demands were focused on the lack of direction for learning. Her cohort of nursing students asked for one clear platform to study from when it came to their testing. Sekiyoba made information from the Assessment Technology Institute’s program the focus of one of his tests. Before the test, Sekiyoba asked students to use their textbooks in preparation for the test. 

The content that was in the textbook nursing students were using didn’t match up with the information from the ATI program. Hang said the contradictions were stark. She said the information that students were tested on would not line up with what was being asked by the ATI program.  She said professors and the director of the department were aware of the differences between the textbooks and the ATI program. 

“I brought it up in the meeting,” Hang said.

Jose Rodriguez, a fourth semester student in the Nursing Department, said he had his own experience with Sekiyoba in the spring of 2021. He said Sekiyoba was in charge of teaching Medical/Surgical Nursing. 

Rodriguez said Sekiyoba didn’t seem prepared for the course that was assigned to him, so he didn’t really blame him for the situation.

“It was just a bad experience,” Rodriguez said.

Sekiyoba, having a mental health focus as his background, made his teaching this course a bit strange to Rodriguez.

“To have someone teach heart failure when their specialty is schizophrenia is crazy to me,” Rodriguez said.

Virginia Wynne, instructional assistant in the Nursing Department, said the department has been in transition the last couple of years. 

This involved changes in leadership after the retirement of former Nursing Director Lurelean Gaines.The California Board of Registered Nurses only recognizes a licensed director for the program. The next directors were Carolyn Du, Christine Chandler then followed by the current director, Brenda Chan.

Campus News reached out to Chan for an interview. On May 23, an initial interview was canceled by Campus News and both parties decided to meet in the fall. Campus News requested another interview opportunity in September.

 Chan said she was too busy and set an interview for next week. Sekiyoba never returned a request for an interview. 

The upcoming interview is for the week of Oct. 23.

Hang said nursing goes through two eight-week sections to create a 16-week semester. Wynne said in the last two years, under the current leadership, there have been issues in class information such as abrupt changes and unclear language in syllabi for particular courses.

“Again, the program is in transition. But at whose expense? It should not be experimental,” Wynne said.

She said Sekiyoba is the mental health person of record within the Nursing Department. His forte is in this discipline and the ELAC nursing website said, “He teaches Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing.” Wynne said at times he has taken on a course like Nursing 265. She said all faculty within the nursing program should be qualified to teach nursing courses. The Nursing Department website shows that Sekiyoba is a Doctor in Nursing Practice, or DNP. She said professor placement is up to the director of the department. Wynne said Sekiyoba has taken on first semester classes in the past.

Hang said Sekiyoba had said in class that he was learning about the content of the course and the ATI program as the class went on. Hang said as her Nursing 265 class continued, Sekiyoba told students some of them would be passed forward in the nursing program. These students, he said, knew and understood the content—students he knew would pass despite their grading situation. 

Hang did not pass the class, but said when she asked Sekiyoba what could be done he said he was advised to fail her. Hang said many students in the class were doing poorly. She said students in the cohort always shared their scores with each other. Hang said, in the end, some of the students with low scores were passed forward to the next phase of the nursing program.

The LACCD administrative procedures for the district’s Nursing programs specifically state:

“Any student who withdraws from or receives a substandard grade (D, F, or Pass/No Pass) in any LACCD nursing course during the first semester of the Nursing Program will be dismissed from the Program and disqualified from re-entry into all LACCD Nursing Programs.”

Wynne said this means the nursing program is a high stakes situation for students. She said instructors of record are the ones that put together exams that can create this make-or-break situation for students. Students have the chance for remediation. She said there may be a need for a dedicated person for this work. During the remediation students are given the chance to go over material missed, but Wynne said she was not sure what that entailed and never saw what these meetings were about. She said she has never had a chance to see professors’ exams from the spring of 2022. 

Wynne said the department is now using Canvas for some courses and student scores, Sherpath and ATI for testing. Sherpath’s website describes the product as an “engaging and highly effective course-based learning solution.”

Correction: Student Lynn Hang’s first name was initially misspelled Lin.

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