Career advice

Lucy Gillespie: The good preceptorship guide

A good preceptorship programme can help you survive your first year as a newly qualified nurse, says Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust preceptorship nurse lead Lucy Gillespie

A preceptorship programme can help to develop knowledge and skills. Picture: Barney Newman

If you are a nursing student, in the not too distant future you will look in the mirror and see a qualified nurse looking back at you. 

Your first days and weeks as a newly-qualified nurse can be challenging, but good preceptorship can support you through what is also a highly rewarding time. 

Transition shock describes the experience of nurses or other healthcare professionals who find it a challenge to move from student to fully accountable practitioner. Although this may not hit you straightaway, the impact is well documented, and it can cause you to question your ability as a nurse. 

Feeling the weight of professional accountability on your shoulders is hardly surprising when you consider the enormity of nursing today. Rising patient acuity, increasingly complex technology and nursing tasks, accelerated patient turnover and bigger caseloads and more responsibility and awareness of personal accountability all influence your experience in the first few months after graduation. 

Coping strategies for newly qualified nurses

  • Drive your own preceptorship: individualise it and make it about you and your needs.
  • Ask for help. It should be encouraged and not frowned upon.
  • Use peer support and social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • Book one week’s annual leave about three months in: you will need it.
  • Remember we all have good days and bad days and not just because we are newly qualified.
  • Focus on positives and celebrate successes.
  • Seek clinical supervision to aid development and future career prospects.


Confidence and competence 

So whether you are newly qualified, returning to practice or moving to a new clinical area, a comprehensive preceptorship programme will help you develop your knowledge and skills so you feel more confident and competent in the care you are delivering.

Individualised preceptorship support in your ward area will help you reflect on your learning and action plan, and having time to discuss your progress will help you feel valued and committed to the team and increase your job satisfaction. Corporate preceptorship also brings benefits to the employer, as it encourages an open and honest culture among staff. 

Where morale is good and staff feel happy and supported, sickness and stress-related absence are reduced. This helps trusts retain and recruit staff and builds stable, resilient nurses with enhanced career aspirations.  

With good preceptorship, the end goal of improving patient experience while maintaining a rewarding nursing career is achievable. 

What will your new job offer you for your preceptorship? Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust provides: 

  • A four-month period of formal preceptorship.
  • A named preceptor in clinical area.
  • Local and trust-wide induction training.
  • The support of a dedicated corporate preceptorship team for all fields of nursing and allied health professionals.
  • Preceptorship drop-in sessions.
  • A tailored preceptorship development pathway to suit individual needs.
  • Regular meetings and action plans.
  • A supernumerary period.
  • Protected learning time in your first year of practice. 
  • A seven-day acute care skills training programme. 
  • Multi professional preceptorship development day.
  • Rotational pathways

Jobs Fairs in 2017

Lucy Gillespie will be presenting her talk on preceptorship at the RCN Bulletin Jobs Fair at the East Midlands Conference Centre in Nottingham on 6 November. For more information, including the seminar programme and a full list of exhibitors at the event, visit the jobs fair website here.

Jobs fairs will be held on the following dates this year:

  • 6 November – Nottingham
  • 4 December – Southampton

About the author 

Lucy Gillespie is preceptorship nurse lead at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust