Preceptorship – an essential part of the successful transition from student to newly registered nurse. But……

Jane Wray, STaR project and Senior Lecturer in Nursing

jane-wraySupporting newly Registered Nurses during the early months of their nursing career is key to the development of safe, competent and confident practitioners. Supportive frameworks such as: preceptorship; clinical coaching; transition to practice programmes; residencies; and internships help embed knowledge and practice experience gained during pre-registration programmes (Brook et al. 2019). The NMC (2020) has recently published Principles for Preceptorship and this is welcome guidance for new nurses, midwives and nursing associates who have recently joined the register and are starting their careers. These principles focus on five key areas: Organisational culture and preceptorship; Quality and oversight of preceptorship; Preceptee empowerment; and Preparing preceptors for their supporting role and the preceptorship programme.

Underpinning these is a clear narrative that it is in the best interest of individual nurses, employers, organisations and patients to support newly qualified health care professionals to successfully make the transition from student to autonomous practitioner. The benefits of a ‘good’ preceptorship programme are many: increased competence; development of professional skills; a positive impact on stress levels and satisfaction; and longer term benefits to the organisation such as retention (Ke et al. 2017). It is also reassuring to see that the NMC have chosen to go beyond the ‘newly registered’ and recognised the applicability of these principles to those that may be returning to practice, internationally educated nurses or professionals who are adapting to a new or different scope of practice – including during the Covid-19 pandemic.

And the but…. Preceptorship has been around for quite some time. Staffing deficits and workload pressures have compromised organisations’ ability to consistently deliver this successfully in practice (Adams & Gillman 2016, Lewis & McGowan 2015). That is not to say there is not good practice out there – there is – and there is also substantive commitment to the principles of preceptorship. But the presence of principles, or a framework is not sufficient to guarantee implementation and significant commitment is required from clinical staff and organisations to make this a reality. This may be difficult to prioritise during the current pandemic. Finally, although there is considerable value in having access to a preceptor it is important to recognise that preceptorship is the responsibility of the whole team – not just the preceptor.

The STaR Transition toolkit has a selection of resources on preceptorship and supporting newly qualified nurses. This toolkit can be accessed here.

References

Adams, J.E., Gillman, L., 2016. Developing an evidence-based transition program for graduate nurses. Contemporary Nurse: A Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession 52 (5), 511-521.

Brook, J, Aitken, L, Webb, R, MacLaren, J, Salmon, D, 2019. Characteristics of successful interventions to reduce turnover and increase retention of early career nurses: A systematic review. International Journal of Nursing Studies 91 47–59.

Ke, Y.T., Kuo, C.C., Hung, C.H., 2017. The effects of nursing preceptorship on new nurses’ competence, professional socialization, job satisfaction and retention: A systematic review. J Adv Nurs 73 (10), 2296-2305.

Lewis, S., McGowan, B., 2015. Newly qualified nurses’ experiences of a preceptorship. British Journal of Nursing 24, (1), 40-43.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (2020) Principles for Preceptorship. Available at https://www.nmc.org.uk/globalassets/sitedocuments/nmc-publications/nmc-principles-for-preceptorship-a5.pdf.

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