Preceptorships, partnership working and social media

Preceptorship poster

Neonatal nurses provide vital care to vulnerable sick and premature newborn babies and play an important role in supporting the parents of the baby at an anxious time. Thames Valley and Wessex Neonatal Operational Delivery Network (ODN) has worked collaboratively with Health Education Wessex (HEE) to produce and pilot a bespoke neonatal preceptorship programme. 

Kim Edwards who leads this work, (employed by both the network & HEE Wessex) charts its progress, and talks about the importance of preceptorships, partnership working, and social media in the first of a series of blogs.

I am delighted to lead this work. The preceptorship tree we have developed to use as our logo illustrates the multiple benefits we see in having good support mechanisms in place for nurses who are newly qualified (or new to a specialism).

Preceptorship is everyone’s responsibility. We all need to ensure that our new nurses are supported and nurtured within their speciality area. For me, it is really about a tripartite agreement between the preceptee, preceptor and the neonatal unit team. The concept of the tree very much supports this view – and represents the numerous factors which enable the growth of the preceptee into a competent and confident neonatal nurse.

We decided on a network approach to the delivery of preceptorship, as it allows us to rationalise our resources, standardise our approach, and work together to assure the quality of the education Wessex neonatal preceptees and nurses new to neonates are receiving.

The inaugural programme was launched in October 2014. We are running it as a pilot study to allow for evaluation after six months which will inform how we progress with the work.

The programme we have developed has a ‘blended learning’ approach to education, using traditional classroom methods, delivered by a multi-professional team within the Wessex Network , e- learning modules, and the use of social media (in this case, apps and Facebook).

Social Media

Facebook is a forum that the preceptees are very familiar with (but using social media was new to me!) and is used as a (very effective) communication tool. We have set up a secret group page, with the learning resources on it, to allow the preceptees to work at their own pace and revisit aspects of learning as many times as they need. It also gives them a forum on which to share information, literature and evidence surrounding neonatal care with their peers. The preceptorship programme, therefore, is not only about acquisition of complex skills and competence as a pre-requisite for excellent neonatal care, but also about shared learning from preceptees in other dependent units within the network.

Action Learning is integral to the programme. It has already promoted critical reflection among the group and enabled them to test out different solutions to a situation, or problem. This has also encouraged the recognition and sharing of personal experiences through preceptees' thoughts and feelings about things as they make the transition into a practising work environment.

This programme has already offered a unique opportunity to encourage multi-professional shared learning within the speciality, such as collaborative working between the neonatal preceptees and medical trainees on patient safety projects.

I look forward to dealing with the day-to-day challenges of delivering a network preceptorship programme, and evaluating it - not only by collecting quantitative data, but really understanding the thoughts and feelings of our preceptees and preceptors, so that we can build on the work we've done and help make it a valuable experience for them.

Keep an eye out for Kim’s next blog in a couple of months, to track the progress and challenges of the pilot project.

Want to know more? Get in touch with Kim via or

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