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Changing preceptorship to achieve better quality training and less attrition in newly qualified nurses

25 June 2020
Volume 29 · Issue 12


The preceptorship period is of great importance in the career of a nurse, as he or she moves from being a student to a competent, accountable professional. Problems with the current preceptorship system for preceptors include not receiving adequate training—particularly in providing constructive feedback to preceptees. In addition, when a small number of nurses are repeatedly assigned preceptees to mentor, this can lead to burnout. Preceptees can feel overwhelmed by their first months as a newly qualified nurse (NQN) and can feel unsupported if a preceptor's teaching style or personality is unsuited to them. This can lead to attrition in the nursing workforce, a current problem. This article suggests a new way of organising preceptorship, by allowing preceptors to opt in to the scheme, providing a pool of energised and enthusiastic preceptors. In turn, NQNs could initially work with the pool of nurses before being given the choice of which preceptor to work with individually.

An effective preceptorship programme has long-term effects on the confidence and preparedness of newly qualified nurses (NQNs) and, ultimately, the retention of these new members of the nursing workforce (Woodruff, 2017). Nursing workforce retention is a prominent issue across the NHS, with more than 41 000 vacant nursing posts across the service (Buchan, 2019). Ensuring that those tasked with shepherding NQNs or nurses new to a clinical area into the profession are knowledgeable and supportive is key in helping to keep nurses in post for longer. With a co-ordinated and streamlined approach, preceptorship can be a positive tool in aid of staff retention across the NHS.

This article posits that by changing the current named preceptor or group preceptor dynamic through allowing for a mutual choice between NQNs and their preceptors from an allotted pool, this would foster better preceptor–preceptee relationships and could mean a better chance of satisfaction with the programme and ultimately better retention of the workforce.

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