A personal approach to preceptorships at Rotherham

Nurses help old lady with lunch

14 / 8 / 2014 4.40pm

Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust has developed a strong, person-centred preceptorship programme to guide its newly qualified nurses through their first year of practice which helps strengthen their skills, confidence and values. We spoke to Mary Dougan, the dedicated lead officer for the preceptorship programme at the trust to find out about how they do it. 

What does preceptorship mean to you, and to Rotherham Foundation Trust?

A good preceptorship programme should make new colleagues feel valued, welcome, and supported in their transition from student to newly qualified nurse.

Every nurse has been through this transition at some point, and although we can’t hold your hand as you are a registered practitioner now, we can aim to give you the best welcome and support we can.

What do you think makes your preceptorship programme good?

Several factors contribute to the success of our programme:

  • We have Board and Senior Nurse support - and their approval for staff to be released to attend the programme days. This is key to making the newly qualified practitioners feel welcome.
  • It’s very cost effective. Apart from minimal spend on some folders for the preceptees’ portfolios, all costs are included in staff time. 
  • We are lucky enough to have a dedicated preceptorship lead. I provide one point of contact for preceptees, and am able to be very hands on. I have an open door policy. Newly qualified nurses have commented how useful this is.

"How do you quantify the value of a human touch?"

Mary Dougan

  • Clarity of expectations on the newly qualified starters. We have produced a video for new starters which sets out what they can expect from their preceptorship programme. (Access the video from the link at the bottom of this web page).
  • We operate in a very supportive environment. Preceptees are taught to recognise and raise concerns safely. 
  • The use of technology; I use social media and smart technology to keep in touch (I send SMS texts and emails to preceptees, and line managers to remind them about details of the programme).
  • The preceptorship is strongly founded on values. The 6Cs, principles of nursing, and organisational values are the thread which weaves through all our activities.
  • The preceptorship is designed to be flexible – to meet the needs of the patients, the preceptee, and the organisation.
  • Our blended learning approach (which includes dedicated classroom time, study days, communities of practice and practical experience) is very successful.
  • We encourage our newly qualified staff to record holistic learning in their diaries. 
  • We foster reflective thinking and practice with our preceptees by asking them to consider questions such as 'What was the situation?’, ‘What did you do about it?’ ‘What were the benefits to the patient?’, ‘What are the benefits to the organisation?’
  • Having a longer period than usual (12 months) for newly qualified practitioners to complete their preceptorship (many are done within six months) has enabled the trust to link preceptorship with the annual appraisal system. It has also had a positive impact on retention of newly qualified staff.

What are the key features of the programme?

The programme is:

  • 12 months long 
  • made up of a study programme, and a portfolio for the practitioners to complete.
  • based on a personal approach - newly qualified practitioners receive a welcome note from preceptorship lead on arrival.
Three months initial learning includes:
  • one full welcome day (within six weeks of qualifying)
  • induction days  (including mandatory and statutory training)
  • conflict resolution (mandatory and statutory training)
  • day one of the Preceptorship programme
  • blood transfusion assessment.
Over the 12 month period, practitioners attend:
  • four programme days, one every three months. The programme content varies, and is adapted according to national priorities, patient needs, and feedback from previous groups. 
  • a vital signs day
The second part of the programme is completion of a portfolio over the 12 months with a benchmark of information people must provide for sign off.  The portfolio includes:


  • requirement to record all training
  • reflection by the preceptee on how they are developing in their role
  • critical incidents 
  • reflection by the preceptee on the sessions they have attended and how their thinking has changed following it, and how it will benefit them, the patient, and the organisation
  • any other information regarding skills development pertinent to their clinical area.
This is evaluated by the preceptorship lead, and individual feedback provided, as well as a sign off letter (rather than a certificate) for the programme. If a preceptee leaves before the end of their 12 months, feedback and a letter can be provided about their progress.

The programme is designed for the modules to be taken as stand-alone modules. This allows for any nurse who has been qualified for fewer than six months, to join a group, and a practitioner who has been qualified for under ten months, and whose first post is in the NHS, to join the programme to support the transition. 

Like to know more?

Watch this short video by Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust to find out more about their approach to preceptorships.

Latest Tweets

Why Register?

Great reasons to register with NHS Employers

  • A personalised website
    Manage your profile and select topics of interest to you
  • Access your dashboard
    Bookmark useful content to help you quickly find what you're looking for
  • Get involved
    Contribute to our Talking Points discussions, comment on and rate our webpages
  • Keep up to date
    Receive the latest newsletters and media summaries

Sounds great, what next?

Register Now

Not now, I will register later

Log In