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Building relationships: The key to preceptoring nursing students.

Jevada Haitana, RN, MN, Professional Nurse Advisor, Whanganui District Health Board, Whanganui

Marian Bland, RN, PhD, Associate Professor Nursing, Universal College of Learning, Palmerston North

Haitana, J., & Bland, M. (2011). Building relationships: The key to preceptoring nursing students. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 27(1), 4-12.


Preceptorship is a form of support offered to student nurses in the clinical setting by a registered nurse (preceptor) who offers guidance and acts as a role model to the student. Research suggests this can be a rewarding role for preceptors, but there are challenges which may impact on their ability to develop the role to its full potential. To better understand the experiences of being a preceptor and the factors that impact on the role, a qualitative descriptive study was undertaken in a small provincial hospital in New Zealand. A purposeful sample of five registered nurse preceptors completed semi-structured audio-taped interviews. Data analysis was completed using a step-by-step process informed by Burnard (1991).

The key finding of this research was the importance of the preceptor and student nurse establishing a professional working relationship. This then enables the preceptor to better assess, and assist promoting in the student’s level of knowledge and understand. At that point the preceptor can determine whether it is safe to allow the student more practice opportunities, or whether constant supervision is still required. Rostering students with one preceptor for the entire placement would better enable both parties to develop a cohesive working relationship, and result in a more positive, effective placement for both the student and preceptor.

Key Words: Preceptorship experience, New Zealand, undergraduate nursing students, relationships.