Preceptor support to improve nurse competency and satisfaction: A pilot study of novice nurses and preceptors in a pediatric intensive care unit

Kirsten A. Hickerson, Mary F. Terhaar, Laura A. Taylor


Objective: To develop and implement an evidence-based preceptor program that improves satisfaction and competency among pediatric intensive care nurses. The preparation-practice gap-defined as the discrepancy between new graduates’ abilities and the demands of their first jobs-increases stress, turnover, costs and medical errors. Preceptor programs and strong preceptor teaching might be able to narrow this gap.

Methods: We developed, implemented and evaluated a Preceptor Support Program to bridge the preparation-practice gap: The Preceptor Support Program. This program integrated electronic progress monitoring and communication; preceptor huddles; checklists; online resources and hands-on teaching materials. Improvements in competency and satisfaction were measured, using pre/post testing for 34 preceptors. For 30 novice nurses, satisfaction ratings were obtained and competency was measured with pre/post administration of the Basic Knowledge Assessment Test (BKAT).

Results: Novice nurse BKAT scores (competency measurement) increased from 73 to 83 (p < .001). Novice nurse satisfaction increased from 3.1 to 3.6. Preceptor satisfaction increased from 3.0 to 3.2 (p = .04) and preceptor competence was increased from 4.7 to 4.8.

Conclusions: Our evidence-based Preceptor Support Program improved satisfaction and competency for both the preceptors and novice nurses in our Pediatric ICU.


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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

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

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