• 17 January 2020
  • 12 min read

What is preceptorship and how does it help newly qualified nurses?

  • Chloe
    Registered Mental Health Nurse

Chloe explains preceptorship for newly qualified nurses, drawing on her own recent experience and how it helped her.

Play video: Chloe explains what preceptorship is for newly qualified nurses and its importance for all nurses interested in their career development

Topics covered in this video

0.00 Introduction

0.43 Newly qualified nurses and preceptorship

1.38 Why do we have preceptorships in nursing?

1.59 What is preceptorship?

2.59 What you can expect preceptorship to be like

3.26 Where newly qualified nurses can find out more about preceptorship

4.03 How I felt about preceptorship and then I changed my mind

4.23 How long does preceptorship last for?

5.03 What does preceptorship consist of?

6.38 Is preceptorship time consuming?

6.57 This was my experience of preceptorship

8.41 Preceptorship reminded me I need to keep on learning as a nurse

9.19 Preceptorship encourages peer support and networking

0.00 Introduction

Hello guys and welcome back to my channel. My name is Chloe. If you are new here and if you are, I would love for you to hit that bar to subscribe us down below and of course if you enjoyed the video, don't forget to give it a big thumbs up.

So today I have got for you another nursing video sponsored by the lovely people over at nurses.co.uk.

If you haven't seen any of my previous nursing videos, they are a careers website built for nurses by nurses and on top of all the career opportunities they've got on their website, they've also got a load of fab resources and information on their blog.

0.43 Newly qualified nurses and preceptorship

And this month nurses.co.uk asked me to talk to you guys about my preceptorship.

If you are new around here, I am a mental health nurse and I've been qualified for 15 months now, 15, 16 months.

Honestly, every time I think about how long I've been qualified, it terrifies me, quite frankly. I feel like the time has just flown by.

But it wasn't so long ago that I can't remember what it was like to be a newly qualified.

In fact, it was so weird in September when we had all of the newly qualified start on my ward.

It was just very surreal, thinking that was me a year before.

And being newly qualified is both an exciting, but also pretty nerve-racking time.

Your initial experiences as a qualified nurse can really shape who you become as a professional and kind of how you develop and progress in your career.

You've just spent three years training to be a nurse, but you've still got a lot to learn.

Just like any nurse it doesn't matter whether you've been qualified for 10 days or 10 years or decades, we've always got something to learn.

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1.38 Why do we have preceptorships in nursing?

The purpose of what's referred to you as your preceptorship period is kind of designed to help you make that transition from student nurse to qualified nurse.

It's also worth mentioning that it's not just nurses that have preceptorships.

I think midwives and other kind of healthcare professionals like OTs, et cetera, I think they have preceptorships as well.

However, because I'm a nurse, I can only really talk about it from a nurses point of view.

1.59 What is preceptorship?

So what is the preceptorship? The NMC, the Nursing and Midwifery Council defines preceptorship as a period to guide and support all newly qualified practitioners to make the transition from student to develop their practice further.

The idea of preceptorship is that it should be a structured period of transition to support you from when you first qualify as a nurse.

It's often referred to you as a preceptorship program or preceptorship pathway and is usually a list of competencies that you need to get signed off.

Similar to what it was like when you're a student.

You basically need to prove that you know how to be a nurse.

So this way if there are any areas that you aren't as strong on, which is always going to happen because you're never going to be able to get every single experience whilst you're a student, there's bound to be areas that you're not as strong on, you need a bit more support on.

So the idea of kind of this list of competencies is that you can easily tick off the ones that you do know how to do and it will help you pinpoint exactly what it is you need a bit more support and development around.

Every trust will deliver the preceptorship program slightly differently. But that's kind of the main premise no matter where you go.

2.59 What you can expect preceptorship to be like

Whilst you're doing your preceptorship program, you will be supervised and supported by a more senior nurse.

This is usually a band six nurse but can also be sort of more senior band fives. Similar to when you were a student, the whole team is there to support you, but you will just be allocated that one person who's there to kind of sign off your competencies, meet with you regularly and make plans to support you if there are any issues.

And the idea is that the senior nurse will help to guide you in order for you to refine your skills, behaviors, and values as a nurse.

3.26 Where newly qualified nurses can find out more about preceptorship

If you're still currently a student while you're watching this, I would highly recommend you asking any potential future employers about their preceptorship program.

What support they can offer you, how long it takes, how the program works, because honestly, having a good preceptorship is so important.

So definitely ask about any preceptorship programs that are available before you accept any job offers for when your newly qualified.

Evidence shows that a stronger preceptorship program has been found to enhance patient care, improve recruitment and retention of nurses, reduce sickness, produce more confident and skilled nurses and increase staff satisfaction and morale.

And that's why it's a really important thing to consider.

4.03 How I felt about preceptorship and then I changed my mind

I have to admit, when I was first qualified, I was a bit like, "What is this? Why on earth have I got to do this?

I've just spent three years getting competencies signed off and now I've got to get some more signed off."

But actually now looking back, I'm really glad that I did it and I'm so glad that I put as much effort into it as I did because it really has set me up in the best standing to be the best nurse I possibly can be and also to help me progress in the future.

4.23 How long does preceptorship last for?

t's generally recommended that your preceptorship period will last anything from six months to 12 months.

Some people might need a little bit longer, but that's what most people are expected to finish their preceptorship in.

And this will vary slightly from trust to trust and a person to person. Some trusts might have kind of like an extremely structured program where you meet, say, once a month for a whole year.

Therefore, it's not really possible for people to finish early because you've got a set number of sessions that you need to attend.

Mine, however, was a lot more fluid.

I had a whole sort of week of preceptorship sessions and then after that they kind of gave us the workbook and let us go off and do that in our own time.

So I started as a newly qualified in the September.

I had my preceptorship week in the November and then I finished my workbook. I finished the preceptorship within six months.

5.03 What does preceptorship consist of?

Our preceptorship week consisted of training and sessions across a whole variety of topics and areas.

So we had the fire brigade come in and talk to us about, I think they're called safe and wellness checks.

We had a session from the dietician, from the safeguarding lead, the clinical risk team, the infection control lead.

All these different people came in and did sessions with us.

So some of this covered our mandatory training that we needed to do when we first joined the trust.

And other sessions were just about giving us more knowledge about the trust because obviously not everyone that had come to work for my trust had trained with them previously because I didn't, I was completely new to the trust.

We also had some group reflection sessions and then just some general sort of getting to know people, meeting people kind of sessions.

So this is great because it meant that I also got to meet loads of other preceptor nurses across the trust, people that were already a very similar position to me.

Because I was the only preceptor nurse on my ward when I first started, so it was really nice to kind of meet some other people that were in the same boats.

And it also meant that I got to meet some of the senior managers, put a face to a name.

A name to a face, the other way around.

And then as I already mentioned, at the end of that week, they gave us a workbook and sort of said, "Off you go. Complete it with your senior nurse."

As I said, this is going to vary from trust to trust. But mine was split up into, I think it was either 15 or 16 sections.

So one of the sections was about infection control.

One of them was about risk.

One of them was about care planning.

For each topic, there were multiple competencies that I needed to get signed off.

So for example, under the heading of risk there was a competency about being able to complete date accurately in order to record risk instances.

So in order to get that signed off, I printed off a couple of my date ex's that I'd completed, discussed it through with my supervisor and then the evidence went in my folder, we both signed off the competency.

6.38 Is preceptorship time consuming?

Actually, the most time-consuming bit of the preceptorship program, for me, was just compiling all of the evidence.

And then I just arranged to meet with my senior nurse as often as we could because obviously we weren't always on shift together.

But as often as we could, we arranged to meet up and we'd go through all of the evidence that I'd recently collected, discussed anything we needed to discuss and then sign off a load competencies sort of each time we met up.

6.57 This was my experience of preceptorship

At the end of this video, I just wanted to take a few moments to kind of reflect on my experience of doing the preceptorship program.

Like I said, initially I was a bit like, "Oh my God, what is the point of this?"

But actually in hindsight, I'm really glad that I had some kind of structure to being a newly qualified.

It wasn't just like, "You've got your pin, off you go." I felt like there was some recognition about the fact that I still needed some support.

I didn't feel like I was just expected to fend for myself right from the get-go. There was that structure in place to make sure I knew everything I needed to know, to identify any gaps so that I could get some extra support, and also just kind of having that one person that I knew I was going to be meeting up with fairly regularly that had more experience than me and could kind of guide me and help me learn.

Because at the end of the day, that's what you're there to do. As a newly qualified, yes, you're there to be a nurse on the ward, but actually you're also there to kind of consolidate everything that you've learned in the last three years.

I genuinely believe I learned far more in my first maybe three months of being a qualified nurse than I did in my entire three years of training.

I can't explain that different feeling than when you walk onto a ward for the first time as a qualified nurse, the first time you do meds by yourself as a qualified nurse, the first time you do some really kind of "minor things" that you use to do all the time as a student nurse or as a support worker without even batting an eyelid at.

And now all of a sudden you're doing it as a qualified and it seems so much scarier.

Things like doing someone's physical observations.

Or in mental health, we have to do sort of intermitted checks to make sure we know where everyone is and that everyone's safe.

And I remember doing those for the first time as a qualified nurse.

I was terrified that I was going to mark someone as asleep when actually there was something really wrong.

So yeah, I was really appreciative of that structure to help me continue developing as a newly qualified.

8.41 Preceptorship reminded me I need to keep on learning as a nurse

I also think your preceptorship is a good reminder that it doesn't matter how long you've been qualified, you've still got plenty to learn and that you're always going to be expected to learn.

Even once you've finished your preceptorship, you'll still be having appraisals every year, clinical supervision, training sessions, revalidation every three years, evidence-based practice will continue to grow and change and new things will come in and old things will go out.

And I think it was just a really good reminder that I'm never going to stop learning.

I've obviously taken that one step further and I've started doing a master's part-time alongside working, but even if you don't do what I've done and go into kind of a formal education route, you are still going to learn something new every day when you're a nurse.

9.19 Preceptorship encourages peer support and networking

It's also a really good reminder that nurses should support other nurses.

It seems really common sense, but I remember being terrified of this kind of nurses eat their young mentality.

And whilst I've been very honest with you guys, that not every nurse I've met has been lovely and supportive.

Again, I think preceptorship was a good reminder that the vast majority of nurses do want to help newly qualifieds and they do want to help students and they want you to grow and learn and be the best colleague you can be and work alongside them.

Nurses supporting other nurses is something I am so incredibly passionate about. It's something that I take really seriously in my role both as a nurse but also in my role as student lead where I work. Students are our future, as cheesy as that sounds.

And I love watching people learn and develop and grow.

Your preceptorship period is also really good for a bit of networking.

If like me, you're going to work in a trust that you didn't train in, you're probably not going to know who the heads of safeguarding, infection control, whistle-blowing are, who the senior managers are.

If your preceptorship program is laid out similar to mine, chances are you'll get to either meet these people or at least just kind of put a name to a job title.

So if in your future practice you need to contact them, it makes it a little bit less intimidating because you know who they are and what they do.

I think it makes them much more approachable because you know their name and you know how to reach out to them.

The lead nurse for safeguarding was saying, "If you've ever got any questions about safeguarding, drop me an email."

And every single person that met with us and did the session said, "Here's my contact details if you need anything," which I just found very reassuring that no matter what's going on, there's always going to be someone more senior than me with more experience than me that I can reach out to you and get some support and advice from.

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About the author

  • Chloe
    Registered Mental Health Nurse

I qualified as a Mental Health Nurse (RMN) in August of 2018 and started as a newly qualified nurse shortly after. On top of nursing I juggle creating content for both my YouTube channel and blog.

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  • Chloe
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About the author

  • Chloe
    Registered Mental Health Nurse

I qualified as a Mental Health Nurse (RMN) in August of 2018 and started as a newly qualified nurse shortly after. On top of nursing I juggle creating content for both my YouTube channel and blog.