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Resolving professional practice problems

Using a collaborative approach

As a nurse, you may face problems that impact your practice. The focus of this resource is to present a process for addressing problems that cannot be resolved at the individual level and must be forwarded to the employer.

BCCNP encourages a collaborative approach to resolving professional practice problems. The goal is safe, competent and ethical care for clients.

What is a professional practice problem?

It’s any problem or situation that:

  • puts clients at risk; and 
  • interferes with meeting BCCNP’s Standards of Practice, employer guidelines and policies, or other clinical standards.

What are your responsibilities?

Nurses and employers have responsibilities in the workplace.


  • meet Standards of Practice;
  • take action when problems impact client care; and 
  • communicate and collaborate with employers to resolve problems.


  • examine situations and work with nurses to resolve problems, once they have been informed about them; and
  • provide resources and support so that nurses can meet the Standards of Practice.

Consider the problem

The first step to resolve a problem is to clarify the nature of the problem and how best to approach it.

Ask yourself:

  • How does the problem put clients at risk? What specific examples can you give? 
  • How does the problem conflict with BCCNP's Standards of Practice and/or employer guidelines and policies?

Use the "Resolving Professional Practice Problems" worksheet to help organize your thoughts.

Communicate the problem

Now that you have clarified the problem, it’s vital to communicate it. Start with verbal communication.

Verbal communication

  • Ask your manager for a meeting to discuss the problem
  • Explain how the problem puts clients at risk and conflicts with BCCNP’s Standards of Practice or employer guidelines and policies  
  • Be specific, factual, include all relevant information, and respect client confidentiality 
  • Listen with an open mind to your manager’s perspective and pay attention to any new information the manager provides 
  • Be prepared to work together to resolve the problem, recognizing that some negotiation and compromise may be necessary 
  • Work together to confirm the next steps

After your meeting, follow up in writing with your manager. Send your manager a summary of what was discussed, the response received, and the next steps you agreed upon.

Written communication

Clearly and concisely document your communication. Keep a record of all correspondence.

  • Treat all documentation as confidential 
  • Use a workplace form, letter or, memo (see "Resources"), workplace form and send in a secure manner 
  • Include your manager’s name and title in this formal communication
  • Start with a general opening statement such as: “This is a follow up to our discussion of ...”
  • Describe the problem: date, time, place, who was involved (use initials for names), what happened, how it affected clients, what specific
  • Standards were reviewed and referenced
  • Include possible solutions 
  • Ask for confirmation that the correspondence has been received and request a response by a specific date, allowing a reasonable amount of time for progress to occur

See sample letter/memo under "Resources."

Resolution is not always immediate

Continue to work within the system to improve client care.

  • If you do not hear back by the specified date, follow up with your manager (“What is happening with the problem?”)
  • If the problem has not been addressed, send a second memo or letter to the same person, re-state the problem, include any new information, attach the first correspondence, and request assurance that the problem will be addressed. 
  • Your manager may not be able to resolve the problem. Be prepared to take your concerns to the next level of management. 
  • You may work with your manager to take the problem to the next level or you may take the issue forward yourself, advising the manager of your plan. 
  • It is important to again ask for a meeting at the next level to communicate your concerns, and then to follow up with written documentation.

At any time in this process, you can contact a BCCNP regulatory practice consultant.

 Need help?

​For further information on the Standards of Practice or professional practice matters, contact us:

  • Email
  • 604.742.6200 x8803 (Metro Vancouver)
  • Toll-free 1.866.880.7101 x8803 (within Canada only)