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SNAPPS in nursing education

Mastering the SNAPPS Method for Nursing Students

The SNAPPS method is an effective tool used in nursing education to promote active learning, critical thinking, and clinical reasoning skills among nursing students. Developed by educators at the University of Michigan, this learner-centered approach allows students to take an active role in their learning process, fostering a deeper understanding of course material and enhancing their preparedness for real-world clinical scenarios.

What is the SNAPPS Method?

SNAPPS is an acronym that stands for:

S – Summarize the patient’s situation
N – Narrow the differential diagnosis or problem list
A – Analyze the differential diagnosis or problem list
P – Probe the learner’s understanding
P – Plan management
S – Select a case-related issue for self-study

Let’s explore each step in detail:

  1. Summarize the Patient’s Situation (S)
    In this initial step, the nursing student is expected to provide a concise summary of the patient’s case, including relevant demographic information, chief complaint, history of present illness, relevant past medical history, and any pertinent diagnostic findings or test results. This summary serves as a foundation for the subsequent steps and ensures that all participants have a shared understanding of the case.
  2. Narrow the Differential Diagnosis or Problem List (N)
    After summarizing the patient’s situation, the student is asked to narrow down the potential diagnoses or problems based on the available information. This step encourages students to apply their knowledge and critical thinking skills to identify the most likely diagnoses or issues, considering the patient’s presentation and clinical data.
  3. Analyze the Differential Diagnosis or Problem List (A)
    In this step, the student is prompted to analyze the narrowed list of potential diagnoses or problems. They should discuss the rationale behind their choices, considering the supporting evidence, clinical findings, and potential complications or comorbidities. This analysis helps students develop a deeper understanding of the clinical reasoning process and reinforces their ability to synthesize and evaluate information.
  4. Probe the Learner’s Understanding (P)
    During this step, the instructor probes the student’s understanding of the case by asking specific questions or presenting alternative scenarios. This questioning technique aims to assess the student’s grasp of the material, identify knowledge gaps, and challenge their critical thinking abilities. It also encourages students to articulate their thought processes and defend their reasoning.
  5. Plan Management (P)
    With a solid understanding of the patient’s condition, the student is then asked to develop a comprehensive management plan. This plan should include appropriate interventions, treatments, follow-up considerations, and any necessary referrals or consultations. By formulating a management plan, students learn to apply their knowledge in a practical setting and develop essential skills for providing high-quality patient care.
  6. Select a Case-Related Issue for Self-Study (S)
    The final step in the SNAPPS method involves selecting a case-related issue for self-study. This step encourages students to identify areas where their knowledge or understanding is lacking and to take responsibility for their own learning. By researching and studying the selected issue, students can fill knowledge gaps, reinforce their understanding, and prepare for future clinical encounters.

Benefits of the SNAPPS Method in Nursing Education

  1. Active Learning: SNAPPS promotes active engagement and participation from students, fostering a more interactive and engaging learning environment.
  2. Critical Thinking Development: By analyzing patient cases, narrowing differential diagnoses, and formulating management plans, students develop essential critical thinking and clinical reasoning skills.
  3. Knowledge Application: The method allows students to apply their theoretical knowledge to practical clinical scenarios, bridging the gap between classroom learning and real-world practice.
  4. Self-Directed Learning: By selecting case-related issues for self-study, students take ownership of their learning process and develop lifelong learning habits.
  5. Feedback and Evaluation: The probing step provides an opportunity for instructors to assess students’ understanding, provide targeted feedback, and identify areas for improvement.
  6. Collaborative Learning: SNAPPS can be implemented in small group settings, promoting collaborative learning, peer interaction, and the exchange of diverse perspectives.

Implementing the SNAPPS Method in Nursing Education

To effectively implement the SNAPPS method, nursing educators should:

  1. Select appropriate patient cases or clinical scenarios that align with the course objectives and learning outcomes.
  2. Create a supportive and interactive learning environment that encourages student participation and open discussion.
  3. Provide clear instructions and guidance to students on the SNAPPS process and their expected roles.
  4. Facilitate probing questions and discussions to challenge students’ understanding and promote deeper learning.
  5. Offer constructive feedback and identify opportunities for improvement throughout the process.
  6. Encourage self-reflection and self-directed learning by emphasizing the importance of the self-study step.

Related Articles:

SNAPPS: A learner-centered model for outpatient education

Using the SNAPPS model to develop student physical therapist decision-making skills during new patient encounters in the outpatient clinic: a pilot study


What does the Snapps stand for?
SNAPPS, summarize, narrow, analyze, probe, plan, and select.

Does Snapps include feedback?
Feedback from the preceptors has focused on the emer- gence of students’ questions and engagement under the guidance and expectations of the SNAPPS model.

What is the 1 minute preceptor model of instruction?
The One-Minute Preceptor is a useful combination of proven teaching skills combined to produce a method that is very functional in the clinical setting. It provides the preceptor with a system to provide efficient and effective teaching to the learner around the single patient encounter.

What is the 5 instructional model?

5e instructional model explained: a framework for inquiry...

The 5E instructional model consists of five phases: engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate. Throughout the process, students work collaboratively to observe, investigate, analyze, and draw conclusions. Meanwhile, the teacher serves as a facilitator, guiding students in the learning process

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