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Preceptorship: new registrants want more support in their first workplace

We need protected learning time and regular study days, say newly qualified nurses
new nurse and her preceptor talk in a clinical setting

We need more structured preceptorship, protected learning time and regular study days, newly qualified nurses tell Unison survey

Newly qualified nurses want their preceptorship to be more structured to make them feel better supported when they start work.

A survey by Unison of more than 180 students and newly qualified nurses found many new nurses feel unprepared and anxious as they embark on their first jobs. Some said work pressures had already made them consider leaving.

‘We fear we won’t fulfil our potential’

Unison’s national nursing student lead Joy O’Gorman said: ‘It’s vital we feel supported and safe in our roles, otherwise we fear we won’t be able to achieve our potential as

We need more structured preceptorship, protected learning time and regular study days, newly qualified nurses tell Unison survey

new nurse and her preceptor talk in a clinical setting
Picture: Neil O’Connor

Newly qualified nurses want their preceptorship to be more structured to make them feel better supported when they start work.

A survey by Unison of more than 180 students and newly qualified nurses found many new nurses feel unprepared and anxious as they embark on their first jobs. Some said work pressures had already made them consider leaving.

‘We fear we won’t fulfil our potential’

Unison’s national nursing student lead Joy O’Gorman said: ‘It’s vital we feel supported and safe in our roles, otherwise we fear we won’t be able to achieve our potential as nurses and midwives.’

Of 117 participants who responded to a question on preceptorship, 76% said they wanted preceptorship – in which more senior nurses support newly qualified staff – to be more structured.

Respondents also highlighted a need for paid, protected time for learning and development and regular study days during their first year of registered practice.

Guidance on getting preceptorship right

Last year the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) published five new principles for preceptorship schemes, which are seen as a key to improving staff retention.

Preceptorships and the pandemic: advice for employers

  • Reassure newly qualified nurses the trust or department knows they are registered and competent but is also aware the pandemic may have affected their education
  • Discuss preceptorships one-to-one. Encourage nurses to raise any worries they may have and draw up and action plan to address these
  • Provide a named ‘buddy’ from day one and highlight other support available such as occupational health and counselling

Source: NHS Employers

Wish-list for more effective nurse preceptorship

Unison wants preceptorships to include at least one month where new nurses are supernumerary.

It said new nurses should get at least one day per month for learning, development and their well-being, as well as career development support that takes places away from clinical duties.

Health Education England chief nurse Mark Radford said his organisation is working with professionals bodies, the NMC, employers and universities to ensure appropriate support during the transition from student to newly qualified nurse.

‘This work is informed by what we have heard from students about the impact of the pandemic on learning and their levels of confidence as they move into their first role,’ he said.


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