Evaluating a preceptorship programme in South West Ireland: perceptions of preceptors and undergraduate students

Catrina Heffernan, Elizabeth Heffernan, Mary Brosnan, Gary Brown
Journal of Nursing Management 2009, 17 (5): 539-49

AIM: The study sought to evaluate stakeholder perspective of preceptor preparation and attributes.

BACKGROUND: In Ireland, undergraduate students are supported by a named preceptor on clinical placement. A preceptor is a registered nurse who has completed a teaching, assessment and preceptorship programme. Preceptor preparation is costly in terms of facilitation and staff release/replacement. To date, in Ireland, research has not explored the effectiveness of preceptor preparation.

METHOD: An utilization-focussed approach was adopted incorporating a two-phase research process; Phase 1 being exploratory while Phase 2 aimed to validate inductions derived from the previous stage. Results The programme is effective in meeting its learning outcomes. The findings are categorized into four theme areas: the importance of preceptor characteristics, the demonstration of these characteristics, knowledge demonstrated by the preceptors and the skills demonstrated by the preceptor.

CONCLUSION(S): Preceptors, to be effective within the preceptor/student relationship, need to integrate both their professional and personal attributes to effectively socialize students to the profession of nursing.

IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING MANAGEMENT: The preceptor role is invaluable within nurse education. This study supports the release of registered nurses to attend preceptor preparation programmes. It highlights the importance of nursing management in preceptor selection, release, support and monitoring in order to create an effective clinical learning environment.

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