Problem Solving

When a problem occurs, it takes extra energy, time, and communication to help resolve it in a positive way for the patient, student, and clinician. We believe that faculty, students, and preceptors all play an important role in the problem solving process. Examples of potential problems include:

  • dress code
  • tardiness
  • confidentiality
  • relationships with colleagues
  • clean techniques
  • accurate assessments
  • complete and accurate education
  • sound decision making
  • complete assessments
  • role transition from nurse to advanced practice nurse
  • knowledge base
  • time management
  • safety

University of Minnesota Faculty role

The School of Nursing is committed to providing preceptors with support, and we welcome involvement in problem solving. Our job is to maintain contact with both the students and the preceptors during their clinical experience so we are aware if there are problems that need to be addressed. We work with both students and preceptors to solve problems, but recognize that it may take all three parties together to develop a clear assessment of the problem and a plan for resolution.

Student role

Recognizing that we are educating adult professionals, we encourage students to initiate responsible problem-solving if they encounter difficulties. This is especially relevant to site-specific scheduling issues, individual learning needs, and ongoing communication about their level of clinical functioning. However, if students are unable to effectively problem solve with a preceptor, they need to involve their university faculty who is responsible for coordinating that clinical experience.

Preceptor role

We recognize the preceptor's hard work, both in the clinical work and in teaching. The School of Nursing's primary role expectation is that the preceptor will be a role model and teach the provision of high-quality care. If the preceptor identifies a problem with a student, it is often most effective if that is communicated to the student by the preceptor. In some larger practices, there may be a 'point person' who is assigned to communicate feedback from other providers to the student.

There are two additional problem-solving components that the University of Minnesota School of Nursing uses to help students and preceptors document and resolve problems. Those are described next.

Mid-semester and Final Evaluations: The mid-semester evaluation is especially important as a time to evaluate overall performance and identify specific problems. This form is filled out by both student and preceptor, and then reviewed with the student by the university faculty. Marking a NO in 'performing at expected level' is critical to problem identification of a serious nature. This signifies the need for specific goal setting and a potential student contract. Inability to meet these goals by the end of the semester signifies an incomplete or unsatisfactory assessment for the student at the end of the semester.

Problem Resolution Chart

The Problem Resolution Chart may be useful to guide the problem solving process.