Recourse for nursing school not fulfilling its obligations

Nursing Students Student Assist


I am a RN, BSN who's significant other is currently in their last (summer) semester of nursing school. My SO has been assigned a facility for their senior practicum, but the school has yet to assign them a preceptor from said facility. It is currently one week into the semester, and the vast majority of other students have received their preceptor assignments as soon as the semester started. Having paid full tuition, what recourse does my SO have if the school fails to provide a preceptor with sufficient time to complete their required patient care hours (15 12-hour shifts)? There are 7 weeks maximum remaining in the semester, and my SO is bound to follow their (hypothetical) preceptor's schedule. The school has made it explicitly clear that my SO is not allowed to seek out a preceptor on their own. I have never heard of this happening anywhere else and can't find any relevant experiences via internet search. Has this happened to anyone? Does my SO have any recourse to, for lack of a better term, pressure the school to fulfill their obligations for which they have been paid? My SO works part time to pay for school and living expenses, and to me this is blisteringly unfair for the school to force my SO to cram in 3, maybe 4 practicum shifts per week in addition to going to class, studying, and working. Thank you!


Frustrated RN

Specializes in Adult Primary Care.

I have no advice, but hope it works out sooner rather than later.

Only advice I have is for the SO to lay low. Complaining too loudly could jeopardize finishing the program and that is not what they want to do. There are programs out there that would not hesitate to eliminate a student just weeks away from graduation.

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

Has this issue been resolved yet? If not, my recommendation would be to assure that there is a strong paper trail. Your SO should communicate through written communications whenever possible to have a record of what was said.

1. E-mail the instructor and summarize what has happened (and not happened) so far. A hospital assignment was received, but not an actual preceptor assignment. The requirement is X number of hours/shifts by such-and-such a date. As time goes by, it becomes increasingly difficult to meet the requirement and may jeopardize the student's graduation eligibility.

2. Copy the e-mail (not blind copy) to several people -- the Program Director, Student Academic Advisor, and anyone else who might get involved should this not work out, such as the Dean of the school, etc. depending on the school's structure. Such as e-mail will establish (in court, if necessary) that the student made a sincere attempt.

3. Include in the e-mail (or subsequent e-mails if the the issue is not resolved quickly) a request for an extension on the deadline for finishing the hours should that be necessary because of the "late start."

4. All e-mails should be cordial and not threatening in any way. The student wants to appear that they are trying their best to meet the requirements but the school is not allowing them to do so.

With any luck, once this paper trail is started, the instructor will be spurred to get it resolved quickly because she will see that if she doesn't, she is not going to look good in any investigation that will follow.

Good luck!

I actually had something similar to this happen to me when I did my practicum. They had a lot of trouble finding enough people to precept all the students. Technically, the nurse was required to be a full-time with a minimum of 2 years experience. Everyone else in my class had their assignments weeks before the semester even started. The semester had started, and I still hadn't gotten mine. I asked other students, which is how I found out they got there's weeks before the semester started. The other students told me not to worry because they hadn't even started their hours yet. But I was worried!!! Unlike them, I was a single mother and needed time to prepare a doable schedule!

The first week of the semester came and went, and the second week started, and still I heard nothing. I asked about it, and they said they were having trouble finding preceptors and that some dropped out last minute and they had to make changes - they had a preceptor for me initially, in the area I requested, but then a preceptor dropped out who had already been assigned to someone so they gave the preceptor they were going to give to me to her (not quite sure why I had to get the shaft on that one! lol). Anyways, my advisor said she would call me as soon as they found me one. So, near the end of the week she calls me and leaves and urgent message. I call back and she says they found me a preceptor, unfortunately, she only works part-time so I need to get in contact with her quickly to make a schedule that works with her hours and get started since I will have half the time to get the hours done in (we had to do 240 hours - 120 one semester, 120 the next semester with no break between). So, I'm thinking well thank you so much for giving away my preceptor, taking your time finding a new one, finding me one that I only have half the time to do it in, and then making me feel rushed to get this done! But, just said thank you and told her I would call right away, which I did.

I worked out a schedule, tight but doable, to get the hours done. Unfortunately, the preceptor had a ton of vacation days she was planning on throughout the time I was supposed to be with her. Fortunately, I found another nurse on the floor that was willing to precept me as well. (Our rules stated that if we got to a clinical and our preceptor was not there - sick or whatever - if there was another nurse on the floor with the minimum 2 years experience that was willing to precept us - we could get the nurse to fill our the paperwork, print out the license verification, and email or fax it to the advisor overseeing us but just had to do it before we delivered any nursing care and we had to call the advisor overseeing us to let him/her know what was going on and that we emailed or faxed the paperwork). So, with that listed in the rules, I asked my advisor if I could split my time between those 2 people. She wasn't sure about it at first, but agreed to it. It worked out really well actually in the end. I got to follow 2 nurses that were actually quite different and get 2 different experiences. I enjoyed my time with both of them so much and felt I learned so much! It just started off really rough!

I had another student in my class that was assigned a preceptor, she felt she had time and didn't work out a schedule right away, she did and then the preceptor wasn't able to precept her anymore, so she had to get a new preceptor. Luckily, they assigned her a new one quickly, but she lost time anyways.

Another student in my class took his sweet time meeting the preceptor and setting up a schedule, they had to keep on him about doing it and that he wasn't going to have time to finish the hours, of course, he didn't have enough time in the end to finish the hours, but for some reason they gave him an extension (even though it was by no ones fault but his own that he wasn't going to have time to finish the hours), and he was able to finish the hours with the extension.

My point is, even with a rough start it can work out. But, as another poster said, I would make sure that I communicate as much as possible through email, so you have a paper trail of what went on. I would also keep on the person that is going to oversee your SO about finding a preceptor - keep it cordial - but keep on it incessantly, and at this point probably start working my way up the chain. Good luck!

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