Strategies for managing unsafe precepted nursing students: A nursing faculty perspective

Florence Luhanga, Irene Koren, Olive Yonge, Florence Myrick


Background: To ensure safe practice, educational programs are regulated by academic and legal guidelines to prepare graduates who are at the very least competent novice nurses. The preceptorship model is widely used in Canadian nursing programs as an effective strategy in the clinical education of students who are preparing to transition to professional practice. For nursing faculty who are responsible for the final determination of student success in a clinical rotation, a challenge arises when a preceptor identifies a student as unsafe in practice.

Method: The authors conducted a grounded theory study to explore the process that nursing faculty use when working with students whose preceptors have reported them as unsafe in their final year of the undergraduate program. Data were collected primarily through individual semi-structured interviews with six nursing faculty and the constant comparative method was used to analyze the data.

Results: ‘Promoting student success’ emerged as the core variable or main concern, with six inherent major categories: (a) recognizing red flags of unsafe practice, (b) strategies for managing students with unsafe practice, (c) evaluation strategies for success, (d) decision to fail a student, (e) guidance and support for student and preceptor, and (f) guidance and support for faculty. In this article the authors focus on three of these categories: (a) strategies for managing students with unsafe practice, (b) evaluation strategies for success, and (c) decision to fail a student.

Conclusion: The findings have implications for ongoing support for faculty involved in the preceptorship program. Administrators in nursing education programs need to reflect on these findings and support faculty in preparing for and engaging in their role in the preceptorship experience.


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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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