Journal of Professional Nursing

Entry to nursing practice preceptor education and support: could we do it better?

Carmel Haggerty, RN, MA (Applied) Nsg, M Ed, Associate Dean, Faculty of Health, Whitireia Community Polytechnic
Kathryn Holloway, RN, PhD, DN, FCNA(NZ), Associate Dean, Faculty of Health, Whitireia Community Polytechnic
Debra Wilson, RN, PhD, PGCertTT Senior Nursing Lecturer, Bachelor of Nursing, Whitireia Community Polytechnic

Reference:  Haggerty, C., Holloway, K., & Wilson, D. (2012). Entry to nursing practice preceptor education and support: could we do it better? Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 28(1), 30-39.


High quality preceptorship during their first year of practice is seen as critical for new graduate nurses’ development of competence and confidence. Quality preceptorship is dependent upon skilled and knowledgeable preceptors who are committed to this role. A recent longitudinal evaluation of 21 Nursing Entry to Practice (NETP) programmes in New Zealand identified that preceptorship selection, education and support do not always receive the attention they warrant.

Failure to plan preceptor selection leads to ad hoc selection and consequent allocations of many preceptors who may not have attended appropriate education, or have a desire to undertake this role. Such a situation is detrimental to the job satisfaction of both preceptors and new graduate nurses. High workloads, rostering difficulties and increased acuity in many clinical areas often prevent preceptors from attending appropriate education and that, in turn, impacts negatively on the preceptor’s expectations and clarity with respect to the role. To offset this effect the authors recommend development of a clearly defined preceptor selection process, along with flexible preceptor education programmes that provide a good foundation for support of new graduates in their first year of practice; but do not increase preceptor workloads.

preceptorship, new graduates, evaluation, support and education

It is well documented that in order to develop their confidence and competence the newly registered nurse needs targeted support in their first year of practice. (McCloughen & O'Brien, 2005; McClure & Hinshaw, 2002; Oermann & Moffitt-Wolf, 1997; Reeves, 2004; Teasdale, Brocklehurst, & Thom, 2001). In 2006 the New Zealand Ministry of Health (MOH) commenced funding for Nursing Entry to Practice (NETP) programmes for newly graduated nurses in all 21 District Health Boards (DHBs) across secondary care areas. A three and a half year longitudinal evaluation was commenced at the same time to capture data on the effectiveness and appropriateness of the national NETP programmes. A key focus of this evaluation was how the preceptorship process within NETP programmes was supported. In particular, the identification of best practice in the preparation of, and support for, registered nurses. .....cont.

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