The beginning of a nurse's career can be a challenging time and initial experiences can be pivotal. To ensure the best possible start for newly qualified nurses and to maximise the training investment, a quality preceptorship programme is essential.
The NMC defines preceptorship as 'a period to guide and support all newly qualified practioners to make the transition from student to develop their practice further'.
It should be viewed as a structured transition phase that allows newly registered nurses to develop their confidence and apply their knowledge from academic studies and placements. Having expert support, with protected time gives a foundation for lifelong learning and allows nurses to provide effective care more quickly.
The standards for pre-registration nursing education recognise that nurses will need to be more independent, autonomous and innovative in the future. Having a strong preceptorship programme in place will be vital to achieving these aims.
Benefits of preceptorship
Investing in a preceptorship programme can deliver a variety of benefits for the individual, preceptor and organisation, such as:
- Enhanced patient care and experience
- Improved recruitment and retention
- Reduced sickness absence
- More confident nurses
- Increased staff satisfaction and morale.
Employers are encouraged to track, measure and evaluate the success of their preceptorship programmes to be able to demonstrate value and make improvements where necessary.
In March 2010 the Department of Health published the Preceptorship Framework for Newly Registered Nurses, Midwives and Allied Health Professionals. The document is designed for those managing preceptorship programmes as well as workforce managers and planners. It provides a definition of preceptorship, outlines the elements of good preceptorship and suggested outcome measures to realise benefits. Download a copy of the Preceptorship Framework.
The document also refers to Flying Start England which is an online development programme to support newly qualified practitioners during their first year of practice. It aims to support their learning and help them embed professional standards during their preceptorship year.
Newly qualified staff can register on the Flying Start website and access the ten learning modules which include safe practice, communication and team work. It helps new practitioners to create either electronically or on paper evidence for the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF) development review.
Further information can be found at the Flying Start NHS website;
Our shared learning web pages provide details of organisations that have implemented successful preceptorship programmes. Read about:
Watch our short film
Karen Charman, Head of employment services at NHS Employers talks about the importance of preceptorship programmes as part of the productivity agenda.