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Keywords:

  • preceptorship;
  • preceptor–preceptee relationship;
  • nursing practice;
  • nurses;
  • student nurses;
  • nursing education;
  • lived experience;
  • phenomenological-hermeneutic analysis

The meaning of preceptorship: nurses’ lived experience of being a preceptor

Aim of the study. This phenomenological study is aimed at illuminating nurses’ lived experience of the process of preceptoring and the meaning of preceptorship in a Swedish context.

Methods. Seventeen nurses from the North of Sweden with varied previous experience of preceptorship volunteered to participate. Their narratives, describing their experience of being a personal preceptor for a student nurse during practical training on a hospital ward in the third year of a 3-year diploma programme within a university college of nursing in Sweden, were transcribed verbatim. A phenomenological-hermeneutic interpretation disclosed the themes ‘sheltering the students when learning’ and ‘facilitating the students’ learning’, together with eight sub-themes, which created an understanding of the meaning of preceptorship.

Findings and discussion. The meaning of preceptorship was understood as reducing the risk of the students learning helplessness and empowering the students when learning in practice. The meaning of preceptorship highlighted the need for further preceptor support and development of the role of the preceptor. On the basis of the findings, suggestions were made to increase the preceptors’ awareness of values in nursing practice and use of pedagogical strategies in the process of preceptoring. Through such strategies a reciprocal development of the preceptors’ and the faculty’s knowledge may take place, to the best advantage of the students’ learning and the development of the profession.