To capture personal reflections on being a preceptor and to identify the supports and challenges to enacting the role.
Prior to graduation from a nursing programme, students begin the transition in roles from student to practicing health-care professional. To ease this transition, preceptorship programmes have been implemented to foster professional socialization and help students achieve confidence in their practice during their final clinical placement (consolidation experience). Preparation for the preceptor role is dependent upon the information offered by the agency as well as by the educational institution. Nursing staff are requested for much of the calendar year to work with increasing numbers of undergraduate students at various levels, function as preceptors in the final clinical experience (consolidation) as well as be involved in the orientation of newly hired nurses.
This qualitative study used one-on-one tape recorded interviews with nurses who had previous experience as a preceptor. Thematic analysis of the transcribed data resulted in the emergence of an overall theme and categories.
Eight nurses were interviewed from a variety of units including medical surgical as well as critical care. The overriding theme from the analysis was 'safe passage'. This safe passage was for the patient and the student and was accomplished through the process of teaching and a clear view of the preceptor role. Challenges to the role were lack of recognition by other nursing staff as well as limited support from some faculty advisors. Supports for the role were the visible presence and ongoing support by faculty advisors as well as the hospital workshop.
This study highlighted the importance of support from nursing faculty as well as recognition by fellow nurses of the workload involved when being a preceptor.
Preceptors play an important role with students prior to graduation. Both the hospital and educational institutions need to ensure that nurses are given the necessary support, recognition and resources.