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Newly qualified? Prepare for preceptorship

The NHS preceptorship system helps newly qualified nurses, midwives and allied health professionals successfully make the transition from student to registered practitioner.  We've put together some useful ideas and guidance for making the most of your preceptorship period.

1. Understand what it's all about

Preceptorship is there to support you in adapting to the realities of the healthcare workplace. A good first step is to read the Department of Health's Preceptorship Framework. It tells you all about what preceptorship is, why it's so important, how it works and what benefits you can gain from it as a newly qualified nurse, midwife or allied health professional. 

2. Get off to a good start

Building a good relationship with your preceptor is essential and this should start from day one. Make sure you're well prepared for your first preceptorship meeting. Look back at your job description and be ready to discuss your personal development goals.

3. Do a SLOT analysis

Self-assessment of your strengths and skills, learning needs, opportunities and threats (SLOT) will help you define how you see yourself professionally and personally. You can then use this as a basis for discussion with your preceptor.

4. Reflect and learn

Whether you're a nurse, midwife, physiotherapist or occupational therapist, it's important to build reflection into your day-to-day practice and learn from experience. Reflection in action happens during clinical events and is usually done unconsciously. For example, you may instinctively modify the way you speak to a patient depending on their level of understanding of the information you are giving them. 

Reflection on action occurs after an event and is sometimes formalised. For example, you may have a daily de-brief with your preceptor or another colleague.

5. Keep a journal

As a newly qualified nurse, midwife or AHP, you'll be facing a steep learning curve. To make sure you stay on top of things and retain key information, it's a good idea to make notes whenever you can, either on your mobile device or in a good, old-fashioned notebook.

6. Don't be afraid to ask

If you're unsure of anything or need more guidance, ask your preceptor or another senior colleague. Don't worry about looking foolish. They'll respect you for being honest and avoiding the risk of making a mistake.

7. Policies and practices

Your employer will have published a wide range of policy and practice documents, covering everything from health and safety protocols to personal development and training opportunities. Make sure you're aware of what's available and which are the key ones you should read and understand.

8. Online CPD

The NHS Leadership Academy's online Edward Jenner Programme is useful as a preliminary learning programme for newly qualified nursing and clinical staff. Designed by frontline doctors and nurses, it helps you use your own experiences and self-assessment for continuing professional development. The Launch and Foundations levels are free of charge.

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