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, nursing associates, midwives and allied health professionals, a quality preceptorship programme is essential.
What is a preceptorship?
The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) 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, nursing associate, midwife or allied health professional when they start employment in the NHS. During this time, they 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 them 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
It is recognised that where preceptorship is well embedded as part of the organisational culture, there are significant benefits for the newly qualified staff, teams, patients and the organisation itself in terms of retention, recruitment and staff engagement. 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 and skilled staff
- 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.
A selection of resources that comprise a framework of best practice can be found on Health Education England’s website. It can be adapted for different professions and there are examples of good practice from a number of NHS organisations.
The pan-London region has also created a framework for health and care organisations to support the practice of newly registered nurses. This recommended best practice approach to preceptorships has been developed through an extensive stakeholder engagement exercise and recognises that a positive preceptorship experience offers significant benefits to both the newly qualified professional and organisations. View the pan-London resource.
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