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Reviewing Preceptorship for HENCEL

Case Study
Reviewing Preceptorship for HENCEL: Identifying What Works

Nursing education Middlesex University

In January 2016, Health Education North Central and East London (HENCEL) approached the Centre for Critical Research in Nursing and Midwifery (CCRNM) for help supporting its policies for preceptorship for newly qualified nurses.

Preceptorship is the support that nurses and other health professionals receive in their first year of qualified practice to ease the transition from student to professional. HENCEL wanted an up-to-date review of what evidence there is for successful approaches – and they wanted it by the end of February.

The CCRNM undertook a rapid review of the topic. Our review focused on:

  • Evidence about barriers and enabling factors to successful preceptorship in nursing
  • Models of preceptorship
  • How clinicians can develop an approach to ensure they are meeting the standards for preceptorship being developed in London.

As well as a full report of this review, we produced a four-page briefing in a format that we intend to use for our future research.

We offered HENCEL the following points for implementation and discussion at a local and strategic level:

  • Preceptorship programmes are valuable, but organisations should not become over-reliant on them. Organisations should be clear about what preceptorship means and what newly qualified nurses need and what is possible. Expectations may need to be managed, otherwise it may not be possible to sustain local schemes
  • Organisations should invest in preceptors and provide training, support, time and reward
  • Regardless of how well preceptorship is implemented, the value of peer support and a positive and supportive work culture cannot be over-emphasised. Continued high pressure, organisational changes and uncertainty about staffing can corrupt the most positive of cultures
  • We ask whether the repetition of the orthodoxy that newly qualified nurses are unconfident and ‘unfinished’ might act as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Nurses have actually qualified and should not practice in a ‘twilight zone’ of trust and status
  • Organisations need to pilot and evaluate preceptorship programmes robustly and incorporate resulting changes.
  • Those planning preceptorship programmes should make frequent use of the workshop format for programmes when possible because they provide built-in peer support and foster independent thinking.

HENCEL are developing preceptorship policy for all of the London Local Education and Training Boards (LETBs) and our review will be a key part of this crucial work across the capital.

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