Role functions of staff nurse preceptors for undergraduate pre-licensure nursing students

Katherine C. Hall


Preceptorships are an indispensable part of undergraduate clinical education and are prevalent among schools of nursing.  However, there is wide interpretation and implementation of preceptorships which leaves many facets of the preceptor role poorly understood. Research has suggested preceptors experience several benefits from serving; however, the role has also been described as one leading to overload, conflict, and burnout. There is a lack of studies exploring preceptor role functions from the perspective of those who serve in it.  The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore staff nurse experiences as preceptors to undergraduate, pre-licensure nursing students with emphasis on the RN’s perceptions of the role, specifically the preparation for, support in, and understanding of what the role entails. Focus groups were used to collect data. Transcripts were analyzed using conventional content analysis.  Findings suggest that the primary role function is Protector, with Socializer and Teacher as secondary role functions. Preceptors in this study described a strong empathetic drive to protect students from negative experiences, to protect patients from harm, to protect their own professional identities, and to protect the nature of the nursing profession. Within each role function, there are specific behaviors in which the preceptor engages to varying degrees depending on the needs of the individual student.  Findings have implications for continued development of the preceptor role.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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