• 09 October 2018
  • 5 min read

What you should expect from preceptorship as a newly qualified nurse

  • Ruth Underdown
    Adult Nurse
  • 0
  • 7536

You’ve completed your training and now you’re about to embark into your nursing career. What should you expect from your first days on the job and your preceptorship? Ruth Underdown explains.

"The role of a preceptor is like that of a mentor when you are doing your training"

Hooray! You’ve completed your training and you’re patiently waiting to step into the world of the Registered Nurse.

How does it feel? Scary? Exciting? Intimidating? Overwhelming?

All these feelings are completely normal. You’ve spent the last 3 years (or 4 depending on your course) preparing for this moment and now you’re here.

How will your first day go? Will you be let loose by yourself or will you be working with someone for a few weeks to get you used to the role?

All things that may be playing on your mind.

Most importantly, will you have a preceptorship?

Starting your first post as a qualified nurse

It is usual that when starting a new role that you should have at least 2 weeks as a supernumerary practitioner to get you familiar with the clinical environment that you will be based in.

This should involve orientation and introductions to team members and key places - where you can get coffee and food probably being the most vital!

You should be allocated time and training sessions to complete mandatory training such as Basic Life Support and Manual Handling.

It may be that these have been booked in advance for you as part of the wider trust induction and may be classroom based for as long as a fortnight, long before you get near your patient; or you could start in your clinical environment and then go on to your trust induction a few weeks into your role.

It all depends on your working environment.

What is a Preceptorship?

Preceptorships were introduced in the early 00’s to support newly qualified nurses coming out of training.

New entrants onto the NMC register from overseas should also be offered preceptorships as part of their induction into the environment within which they are working (according to the NMC).

The role of a preceptor is like that of a mentor when you are doing your training. They meet with you regularly to discuss your learning and development needs to support you into growing into the nurse you want to be.

When you start in post it is helpful for the Preceptor (experienced nurse) and Preceptee (you) to meet and identify your areas of interest, areas that need development and how you can be supported from student to confident, competent practitioner.

How long will it last?

The recommended length of time of a preceptorship can be anything from 4 months to 12 months with some NHS Trusts having preceptorship programmes in place to support the development of the new nurses coming through.

There may be a series of teaching sessions and a workbook to complete to ensure that you are competent in extended skills like IV drug administration and cannulation.

The whole purpose being that you are appropriately supported in your first year of practice and that you become a competent and safe practitioner and practice in accordance with The NMC Code of Conduct.

What kind of nurse will be my Preceptor?

Your Preceptor should be a nurse who has had approximately 12 months of clinical experience in the setting that you are practicing in.

They should be a positive influence and role model on your practice. Someone who will inspire you but also make you aspire to be the best nurse you can.

There are no formal preceptor qualifications but the nurse who is allocated to you should be able to provide both positive and constructive feedback on your practice.

They should support your development by helping you to find opportunities to gain new knowledge and skills; but you also take responsibility for your own learning and looking to take advantage of opportunities to learn as they arise.

How do I know if I will get a Preceptorship?


It is always a good idea to ask at interview about how much of a supernumerary period you will get once you start in a new role but as a new registrant, it is also worth asking about the preceptorship programme.

All in all, it’s about guiding you through your first year of practice.

Supporting you to become a proficient and safe practitioner.

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  • Ruth Underdown
    Adult Nurse

About the author

  • Ruth Underdown
    Adult Nurse

Since qualifying in Adult Nursing in 2002 I’ve worked as a specialist nurse with the NHS, and in the private sector as a general nurse and sessional nurse for a hospital at home team (I’ve been about a bit!).

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