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Nurse preceptorship review exposes quality inconsistencies

Preceptor support programmes for newly registered nurses are variable in quality and more evidence is needed to understand their effectiveness, say researchers
More experienced nurses talks to newly qualified nurse on a ward

Preceptor support programmes for newly registered nurses are variable in quality and more evidence is needed to understand their effectiveness, say researchers

Preceptorship progammes for newly qualified nurses should last at least a year, findings of a literature review suggest.

Researchers from Middlesex University found most new registrants value the extra support they get from preceptorship at the start of their careers.

However, they also found wide variation in the length, format and programme quality, even though effective preceptorship is seen as key to improving nurse retention.

Review recommendations include extending the length of preceptorship to at least one year because longer programmes ‘are likely to be more effective’.

Preceptor support programmes for newly registered nurses are variable in quality and more evidence is needed to understand their effectiveness, say researchers

More experienced nurse talks to newly qualified nurse on a ward
Picture: iStock

Preceptorship progammes for newly qualified nurses should last at least a year, findings of a literature review suggest.

Researchers from Middlesex University found most new registrants value the extra support they get from preceptorship at the start of their careers.

However, they also found wide variation in the length, format and programme quality, even though effective preceptorship is seen as key to improving nurse retention.

Review recommendations include extending the length of preceptorship to at least one year because longer programmes ‘are likely to be more effective’.

Preceptorship review ahead of national framework

Preceptorships are structured programmes designed to help newly registered nurses translate their knowledge into everyday practice, and involve supervision and support from an experienced colleague.

The review was commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement to inform the creation of a national preceptorship framework and standards, due later this year.

The study, which examined 23 papers on UK preceptorship, found plenty of evidence that newly-qualified nurses believe preceptorship improves their confidence and competence. However, researchers also identified inconsistency in availability, preceptorship models, duration and quality of contact between newly qualified nurse and preceptor.

Overall, they found a lack of hard evidence of the effectiveness of preceptorships compared to other forms of support such as informal help from nursing colleagues, and of which models work best.

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) guidance says preceptorship can vary in length depending on the needs of the nurse and the organisation they work for.

However, the research indicates longer programmes lasting six months to a year are likely to work better.

‘The minimum duration preceptorship should perhaps be extended to one year,’ the review suggests.

There’s more to learn about nurse preceptorship

Other recommendations include introducing a set amount of professionally-regulated supervision time for all newly qualified nurses.

The researchers stressed the need to collect more data and carry out further research to address ‘very large gaps’ in knowledge of preceptorships.

NMC executive director of professional practice Geraldine Walters said the NMC doesn’t have the power to mandate preceptorship programmes.

‘We collaborated with the chief nursing and midwifery officers to produce a set of principles to support both those who design and oversee preceptorship programmes, and those whose role it is to regulate employers of nursing and midwifery staff,’ she said.


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