Preceptorships are not only about refining clinical skills and competencies they also help to model professional behaviour and values. From my perspective this programme has been an exciting and inspirational time that has enabled the growth of the preceptees into confident and competent neonatal nurses.
Several challenges and barriers emerged within the programme, one of which was the engagement of preceptees with the patient safety project. A few were very reluctant to undertake a project that meant having to do extra work and some were finding the assimilation into clinical practice a real challenge. We negotiated our way through this together and the work produced some excellent projects. Two of these were presented at the Health Education Wessex Patient Safety Conference and have been uploaded to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Med IQ website.
A huge challenge was undertaking clinical placements in alternative designated units. One of the barriers that hindered this was HR processes. These were often complicated and confusing and only added to the preceptees anxieties about having to work in a different unit. Some voiced valid concerns that as they were just beginning to feel settled they were apprehensive about losing recently acquired skills by moving, as well as meeting the expectations placed on them from the receiving units. In reality all preceptees enjoyed their placements and found them very valuable.
Using social media as a means of support added a different dimension to the programme. A secret Facebook group was set up that enabled the members to build a community of practice in which to share information and build new knowledge. It also allowed them to tell their stories within a safe environment and became an effective communication and supportive tool.
On the whole preceptees have felt very much supported during the programme, although initially a lot of this was delivered through the use of the Facebook group, myself, and peer support. Some of the preceptees reported that support from individual units could have been better in the early stages and in particular when no longer seen as supernumerary. This will hopefully be addressed as the formal evaluation with recommendations is disseminated to the senior nurses within the Network.
Kim’s first blog ‘Preceptorships, partnership working and social media’ outlines how and why they set up the programme.
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