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Feltham C The value of preceptorship for newly qualified midwives. British Journal of Midwifery. 2014; 22:(6)427-31

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Midwifery preceptorship: The next chapter

02 August 2016
Volume 24 · Issue 8


At the point of registration, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (2009: 23) states that student midwives should be able to ‘practise safely and effectively without the need for direct supervision’. However, newly qualified midwives should have a preceptorship period where knowledge and skills are consolidated while confidence in practice is developed. This period is not designed to meet shortfalls in pre-registration education; rather, it is to support registrants during the transition from student to autonomous and accountable practitioner (Department of Health, 2010); in other words, the journey from novice to expert (Benner, 2001). This article describes preceptorship in the context of midwifery practice and summarises the roles and responsibilities of the ‘new registrant’, the preceptor and the employer. It discusses a case study preceptorship programme, with comments from current preceptees and the practice development midwife.

Research has found that, while newly qualified midwives are competent to practise, they would benefit from preceptorship programmes providing a structured, supportive culture to enable them to develop their confidence to become autonomous, accountable practitioners (Avis et al, 2013). Structured preceptorship programmes support newly qualified midwives to enhance their clinical skills and develop their care planning and managerial skills, along with helping to socialise them into the workplace (Feltham, 2014).

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC, 2006: 1) defines preceptorship as ‘providing support and guidance enabling ‘new registrants’ to make the transition from student to accountable practitioner, to practise in accordance with the NMC (2015)Code and develop confidence in their competence as a nurse, midwife or specialist community public health nurse.

To facilitate this, the new registrant should have learning time protected in their first year of qualified practice, and access to a preceptor with whom regular meetings are held.

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