Not all nurses and midwives can access quality preceptorship, with some programmes too short, unstructured and lacking adequate contact hours, a review has found.
The review, published by Middlesex University and commissioned by NHS England, found the ‘wide variation’ in the ‘amount, type and quality’ of preceptorship is a ‘significant barrier’ to programmes for nurses and midwives.
It called for a minimum number of hours or duration for preceptorship programmes and a core preceptor training curriculum to be agreed, as well as improved research and evaluation allowing for a ‘national picture’ to be built up.
It particularly found ‘low’ evidence quality around general practice nurse preceptorship, as the focus on most research into preceptorship has been in secondary care.
Preceptorship is a period of structured transition to guide and support all newly qualified practitioners from student to autonomous professional, according to NHS Employers.
But the review argued the current ‘lack of any reporting requirements’ and ‘reliable evidence makes it hard to judge whether preceptorship is an effective model for supporting transition’ or whether some preceptorship models are ‘more effective than others’.
Preceptorship providers should therefore be required to supply data to the NMC on whether the programme is being offered to all newly qualified nurses (NQNs) and midwives, its duration, contact hours, the model, as well as uptake and competition rates, it said.
It is possible ‘too much is being expected of preceptorship’ compared to other forms of support – such as peer or informal colleague support – given ‘the fairly loose guidance’ from regulatory bodies, the lack of resources and workforce pressures in nursing, it added.
The authors continued: ‘The existing evidence does not allow judgements to be made about whether preceptorship is more effective in supporting NQNs (or achieving certain outcomes) than other forms of support for NQNs.’
This comes after the NMC found a newly qualified practice nurse under a fitness to practise investigation was ‘failed’ by a lack of diabetes training from her practice in May last year.
Hannah Killeen, who was on a preceptorship programme at Fernbank Surgery in Lancashire, received ‘wholly inadequate’ and ‘limited’ diabetes training comprising of just one observation session.
And in 2019, research found NQNs are more likely to stay in their jobs if they take part in an internship or a transition to practice scheme.