Preceptorships for newly qualified staff

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20 / 8 / 2014 11am

The beginning of a newly qualified practitioner's career can be a challenging time. Initial experiences can shape how they develop in their career. To ensure the best possible start for newly qualified nurses, midwives and allied health professionals, a quality preceptorship programme is essential.  

*Please note, if you are a newly qualified health professional looking for a preceptorship opportunity, this should be discussed with your employer once you have secured a position in an NHS trust. 


What is a preceptorship?

The Nursing and Midwifery Council defines a preceptorship as 'a period to guide and support all newly qualified practitioners to make the transition from student to develop their practice further'. 

A preceptorship should be a structured period of transition for the newly qualified nurse, midwife or allied health professional when they start employment in the NHS. During this time, he or she should be supported by an experienced practitioner (a preceptor), to develop their confidence as an independent professional, and to refine their skills, values and behaviours. Having expert support, and learning from best practice in dedicated time gives a foundation for lifelong learning and allows nurses to provide effective patient-centred care confidently. 

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 a preceptorship

Investing in a preceptorship programme can deliver a variety of benefits for the preceptee and employer, 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.


Preceptorship Frameworks

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. 

The document also refers to pay progression linked to Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF) and preceptorship. It should be noted that accelerated pay progression associated with preceptorship for staff joining pay band 5 as new entrants was removed as part of Agenda for Change.
Download a copy of the DH Preceptorship Framework.
Other organisations have published preceptorship frameworks, such as the 'Preceptorship Framework for Health Visitors', which is currently being piloted by the Institute for Health Visiting. Although this is tailored for the health visitor workforce, its principles may also be useful to map to your own models.

Shared Learning 

Our shared learning web pages provide examples of organisations that have implemented successful preceptorship programmes. Read about:


  • How staff at Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust worked with their local university to carry out a major review into how they support their newly qualified nurses and midwives make the transition from student to registered nurse and strengthened their preceptorship programme as a result. 
  • How Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust has developed a strong, person centred preceptorship programme to guide its newly qualified nurses through their first year of practice to help strengthen their skills, confidence and values.

Have you implemented a successful preceptorship programme to help your newly qualified staff? Tell us about it by getting in touch with 

Free learning and development tool: Edward Jenner

The Edward Jenner Programme, launched by the NHS Leadership Academy in July 2013, is a new, freely accessible online learning tool aimed particularly at newly qualified health care practitioners, and those returning to practice. It has been developed by the Academy to help them gain confidence and competence in their new role.


The learning package is:
  • Designed by clinicians working on the frontline of care, it is highly practical and patient-focused – making it a valuable resource for all staff who want to build a more compassionate NHS. 
  • Designed to help staff use their own experiences as part of the learning process, self-assessment in key leadership areas and continuing professional development.

Managers of newly qualified staff would benefit from encouraging their new starters to register an interest in the Edward Jenner Programme.


The Flying Start programme, which employers will be familiar with, has now closed in England. 

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