Formula For Success Addressing Unsatisfactory Clinical Performance
Marilyn M. Teeter MSN, RN

Nurse Educator
June 2005 
Volume 30  Number 3
Pages 91 - 92
  PDF Version Available!


  • See It Early

  • Understand the Student's Perspective

  • Clarify the Situation With the Student

  • Contract With the Student for Success

  • Evaluate Student's Progress Regularly

  • Summarize the Student's Performance

  • Sign the Summary and Look to the Future

  • Reference


  • Figure 1

  • Figure 2

    One of the most challenging areas of nursing education is managing a student who is “at risk” of failing the clinical practicum. Faculty often feel as demoralized as the student when the student is failing. 1 By developing and following an objective plan to manage unsatisfactory clinical behavior, the instructor can minimize the stress and maximize the outcome for the student and the faculty member.

    The acronym SUCCESS can be used when dealing with the student failing in the clinical setting. It provides a systematic way to move through a difficult situation. The student and faculty member develop an individualized formula for success . It will direct the student on how to succeed rather than fail. It is important to use a positive approach throughout this process.

    See It Early

    Look for “red flags” to identify the at-risk student. Here are a few: The student arrives late on the first or second day; comes to clinical without basic items such as pen, watch, or paperwork; disappears from the floor; hesitates when asked questions; submits incomplete paperwork; frequently gets staff and other students to help; exhibits unprofessional behavior; is distant; unengaged with learning; fumbles with skills; frequently says, “I didn't know what YOU wanted”; and is unprepared for procedures.

    Understand the Student's Perspective

    Consider how you would feel in the same situation. Here is a list of questions ...

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