As anyone who has studied nursing knows, a lot of the time it can be very demanding, however this is because the nature of the job requires you to know exactly what to do and how to act in each and every situation that can arise, and with the field being so flexible with a whole variety of different responsibilities to attend to, experience goes a long way in nursing.
A preceptorship is related to this, however it is a term that can confuse a lot of people who may have seen it mentioned in other professions other than nursing. Here is all you need to know about a nursing preceptorship including how it works and how long it lasts.
What is a Nursing Preceptorship?
A preceptorship is defined as a structured transition to guide and support newly qualified nurses to translate their knowledge into everyday practice with extra assistance to help grow confidence in the new role and position, along with becoming more familiar with the workplace.
The aim is to take aspiring practitioners from being a student to becoming a professional nurse who will gain an extensive amount of more knowledge and hands-on experience with the responsibilities and requirements of the field.
Preceptorships are primarily designed to assist the individual nurse, midwife or nursing associate preceptee’s with their new role and function to support them and encourage confidence in their new position. Preceptorships are therefore most commonly used for recently qualified nurses who want to further expand their knowledge in the field.
How Long is a Preceptorship?
The average preceptorship will usually last from six to twelve months which is usually enough time for a new nurse to gain a decent amount of experience in the role while also learning their way around their area of work.
There isn’t a fixed time for this however, some people sometimes need a bit longer which can mean the preceptorship goes on for a few months more which makes the programs quite flexible. The usually one-year period also applies to preceptorships in other professions including midwifery and dentistry.
What You Can Expect a Preceptorship to Be Like
When you’re undertaking a preceptorship program, in the majority of cases you will be supported and guided by a band six nurse, however, this can sometimes also be a band five nurse who will still have much experience behind them and will be able to assist you with any queries you may have.
While you are usually allocated just one professional to support your practical work in the field, they will also regularly meet with you and give you any pointers on what to improve on along with personal updates on how well you’re doing so that you can refine your skills and learn more as you go.
Despite there usually being one senior nurse to help you improve your nursing skills, the whole team is there to support you, so you’ll always have someone there to assist you so that you can grow into becoming a professionally trained nurse.
Is It Compulsory to Undertake a Preceptorship Program?
While they are not technically mandatory, newly qualified nurses are heavily advised to still go through a preceptorship since for many nurses, this is the year they claim to learn the most when it comes to the hands-on experience and responsibilities of the job.
This can admittedly seem a little wasteful at first, especially after you spend several years studying and getting competencies signed off only to go through even more training, however many nurses look back and are glad to have gone through with a preceptorship since it can massively help set you up in the best position possible rather than you being thrown in the deep end where the role can seem a lot more daunting and harder to familiarise yourself with.
Is a Nursing Preceptorship Worth It?
As many experienced nurses will say, while a preceptorship can initially seem like a bit of a waste of time, it’s not until you’re actually walking around the wards for the first time as a qualified nurse that you realize just how much scarier everything is.
This isn’t just referring to interacting with patients but even the smaller activities that may have seemed a little easy and time-consuming as a student nurse, but all of a sudden have become far more important.
When you’re in a real hospital, while you can have the knowledge about what the role of a nurse entails, it’s still incredibly beneficial to actually get a sense of what these interactions are like when you owe much more responsibility to your patients, making a preceptorship the perfect way to ease into the role so that things don’t get too intense too quickly.
Another reason nursing preceptorships are incredibly beneficial is because the evidence-based approach it takes allows you to keep learning as you go, and when it comes to nursing, there’s always more to learn.
Not only do these few months grant you some time to reflect on what you’ve learned and put that into practice, but it also gives you much more freedom to translate your knowledge practically with advice from your senior nurse that can let you know what skills to improve at, along with giving you tips and advice from the professionals themselves who will have dealt with virtually every situation that can appear in nursing.
If you’re interested in going into a nursing career, or if you’re already undertaking steps to become a fully trained nurse, while a preceptorship may seem like even more training to begin with, it is always heavily worth considering especially for how much easier it makes adjusting to the role and the extensive amount of new experience it can grant you.
While it may not be compulsory, majority of nurses nowadays will undertake a preceptorship to help them grow into the position much easier and with how demanding the job can be, it’s never a bad idea to follow one of these programs.