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Despite NMC (2006) recommendations however, the utilisation of preceptorship support strategies in practice is limited, with its use across the NHS being fragmented and inconsistent. However the literature does demonstrate that preceptorship strategies can be very effective in supporting newly qualified nurses in successfully managing such transitions, with student nurses reporting that preceptorship facilitated easier transitions into clinical practice and helped them to negotiate better understandings of their new roles (Mooney, 2007). The difficulties that student nurses experience in making the transition to newly qualified nurse has been highlighted by both the Department of Health (Do H, 2007) and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC, 2006) who raise concerns around whether such nurses are being appropriately prepared to feel confident and competent in their new nursing positions.
As multi-disciplinary teamwork in NHS care systems is a key aspect of NHS policy (Do H, 2010; NHS, 2013), newly qualified nurses can feel coerced into adopting different care practices that challenge their theoretical understanding of best practice, which can lead to tensions and, as studies reveal, could lead to distrust and poor staff morale (Mc Donald, Jayasuriya, and Harris, 2012).
Theory-practice gaps, if strategies are not developed, can lead to segregation across newly qualified nurses and experienced staff, as when high expectations are placed upon newly qualified staff, they are unable to re-negotiate their new roles as they have no understanding of how their role can be limited by the particular socio-political and organisational constraints that can impede their practice (Maben et al. Consequently the actual NHS environment and organisational culture in which newly qualified nurses find themselves can elicit a major impact upon how such nurses manage their transitions and forge a new self-identity and come to make sense of the role of the newly qualified nurse (Mooney, 2007; Whitehead, 2001).
A key strategy promoted by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) (2006) is the employment of preceptors and supervisors to facilitate newly qualified nurses’ adjustment to their new practice settings (NMC 2006).
Key Do H (2008) recommendations were placed on establishing more effective nursing training to ensure newly qualified nurses were better prepared for the realities of nursing practice, and providing avenues for appropriate continued professional development.
However, studies still highlight that in reality, newly qualified nurses’ experiences are not aligned with these recommendations and nurses are still experiencing great challenges and difficulties in adjusting to the newly qualified nurse role (Mooney, 2007; Nash et al. The aim of this essay therefore is to examine the challenges that newly qualified nurses’ experience as they make their transitions into professional nursing practice, and to explore particular evidence based strategies to facilitate effective adjustment to their new role.