Becoming a nurse preceptor, the challenges and rewards of novice registered nurses in high acuity hospital environments

Janet Smith, Linda Sweet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Precepting is a common and expected role of nurses in clinical settings worldwide. This research explored novice nurse's experiences of precepting undergraduate nursing students in high-acuity hospital environments. An interpretive study was undertaken with 12 novice nurses (<3-years of post-registration clinical experience), who were precepting nursing students. Data was collected through focus groups and thematically analysed. The zone of proximal development theory was applied to understand the relationship of learning that occurs between students and nurses. Three themes were identified. Firstly, participants established that precepting students enhanced their own self-development, and was a rewarding role, that not only developed the student into a nurse, but provided opportunities for the novice nurse to learn. Second, precepting was both challenging and rewarding. The challenges involved the student, the context, and the preceptors' own teaching and learning skills, resulting in feelings of frustration and conflict between nursing care and preceptor roles. Third, precepting was an expectation of both the nursing role and from senior nurses. At times, the participants felt overwhelmed and drained, particularly when having students that challenged them on multiple consecutive shifts. Participants identified the need for guidance and support from more capable peers to develop confidence while precepting nursing students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-107
Number of pages7
JournalNurse Education in Practice
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • Nurse Preceptor
  • Challenges and Rewards
  • Novice Registered Nurses


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