Preceptor Preparation Online Course - Advanced

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Essential Competencies of Preceptors: A Focus on Working with APRN Students

Module 6: Communication and Conflict Resolution

Conflict Resolution

When dealing with conflict, five styles or methods of management are acknowledged. These styles are competing, collaborating, compromising, avoiding and accommodating.

Style Description
Competing Reaching individual goals at the expense of the other parties goals or feelings
Collaboration Both parties work together cooperatively for a mutually agreeable solution
Compromising A give and take negotiation. No one completely meets their original goals but all parties get something
Avoiding Avoiding and refusing to engage in the conflict
Accommodating Sacrificing individual goals for the sake of the other party

The primary goal in conflict management is producing a win-win solution to the conflict. The choice of what strategy to use to achieve this goal depends upon the power and status of the individuals involved, the conflict situation and the urgency of the need for a decision (Marquis & Huston, 2012). The Conflict Management Questionnaire Website can help individuals determine what style of conflict management they prefer. Remembering that the primary goal of conflict management is win-win, use these Five Ways to Foster Healthy Communication in Conflict tips to deal with conflict when it occurs.

When asked what behaviors caused conflict for APRN preceptors, the top four identified behaviors were disorganized or slow work; hesitancy and fear of making mistakes; "know it all" students who ignore advice; and continued performance of the same skill incorrectly (Modic & Harris, 2007). One strategy for addressing problem behaviors demonstrated by graduate students is through the use of the BECOME method. The acronym stands for behavioral, emotive, cognitive, organizational, modeling and environmental.

  • Behavioral strategies include acknowledging learning style, agreeing on goals, giving feedback and setting limits. Emotive approaches include counseling, encouraging, listening and reassuring.
  • Cognitive strategies involve evaluating progress and performance, questioning, assigning appropriate patients and using simulation.
  • Organizational tactics include engaging facility resources, using technology and delegating specific activities.
  • Modeling approaches involve observing the behavior, demonstrating it correctly and reviewing a repeat demonstration.
  • Environmental strategies involve advocacy for APRN student, providing educational materials and maintaining an emotionally supportive environment (Modic & Harris, 2007).

Not included in this approach are communicating and soliciting assistance from the assigned faculty member and including the faculty in the problem solving process. Although many preceptors are reluctant to involve faculty before giving students the opportunity to change and improve, connecting with faculty is an opportunity to receive advice and support (Luhanga, Yonge & Myrick, 2008).


The following resource provides some good examples of using communication strategies to resolve conflict and challenging student behaviors:

Preceptor Vignettes

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