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the SNAPPS mnemonic puts the learner in the driver's seat

The SNAPPS teaching tool provides a guide for a structured conversation with the learner. This time, however, instead of you driving the conversation by asking questions of the student, the learner is in charge. This is a great way of getting them to invest in their own clinical teaching rather than expecting you to do all the work. When you set expectations at the beginning of your shifts, consider asking students and residents to select 1-2 cases that are SNAPPS-worthy.


SNAPPS asks the learner to: 

  • SUMMARIZE briefly the history and findings. 

  • NARROW the differential to 2 or 3 relevant possibilities.  

  • ANALYZE the differential by comparing and contrasting the possibilities. 

  • PROBE the teacher by asking questions about uncertainties, difficulties, or alternative approaches. 

  • PROPOSE a management plan for the patient.  

  • SELECT a case-related issue for self-study. 

Additional resources:

Bandiera G, Lee S, & Tiberius R. (2005). Creating Effective Learning in Today's Emergency Departments: How Accomplished Teachers Get It Done. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 45(3), 253–261. 

Nixon J, Wolpaw T, Schwartz A, Duffy B, Menk J, & Bordage G. (2014). SNAPPS-Plus: An Educational Prescription for Students to Facilitate Formulating and Answering Clinical Questions.  Academic Medicine, 89(8), 1174-1179.

Wolpaw TM, Wolpaw DR, & Papp KK. (2003). SNAPPS: a learner-centered model for outpatient education.  Academic Medicine, 78(9), 893-898. 


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