Putting knowledge to work in clinical practice : understanding experiences of preceptorship as outcomes of interconnected domains of learning

Allan, Helen Therese, Magnusson, Carin, Evans, Karen, Horton, Khim, Curtis, Kathy, Ball, Elaine and Johnson, Martin (2018) Putting knowledge to work in clinical practice : understanding experiences of preceptorship as outcomes of interconnected domains of learning. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 27(1-2), pp. 123-131. ISSN (print) 0962-1067


Aims and objectives: To explore how preceptor support can assist newly qualified nurses to put knowledge to work across interconnected forms of knowledge when delegating to healthcare assistants. Background: Current literature on preceptorship in nursing has failed to explore how competence is underpinned by knowledge frameworks in clinical practice. Design: An ethnographic case study in three hospital sites in England (2011-2014). Methods: Data collection included participant observation, interviews with 33 newly qualified nurses, 10 healthcare assistants and 12 ward managers. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. A tool to assist newly qualified nurses to delegate and supervise newly qualified nurses during the preceptorship period was developed and piloted with thirteen newly qualified nurses in the same sites. A process evaluation was undertaken. Findings: Focusing on a key task for newly qualified nurses, delegation to healthcare assistants, we argue that preceptorship can support newly qualified nurses as they put knowledge to work in the transition from qualifying student to newly qualified nurses. In supportive ward cultures, limited access to formal preceptorship can be bolstered by team support. newly qualified nurses in less supportive ward cultures may have both a greater need for preceptorship and fewer compensatory mechanisms available to them when formal preceptorship is not available. We argue that organisational learning contexts and individual learning styles (interconnected domains of learning) are key to understanding effective preceptorship. Conclusions: We suggest that putting knowledge to work early in their careers with preceptorship support may assist newly qualified nurses to develop confidence and competence in delegation and supervision of healthcare assistants. Relevance to clinical practice: Our findings suggest that newly qualified nurses need to be supported by effective preceptorship in their learning as they transition from undergraduate to post graduate. Preceptorship programmes at ward and organisational level need to recognise the intensity of the learning required during this transition phase.

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