Experiences of Preceptors in Dedicated Education Units in the Public Hospital Environment

Friday, 25 July 2014

Jennifer L. Kitchens, MSN, RN, ACNS-BC, CVRN
Quality and Risk Management, Eskenazi Health, Indianapolis, IN
Joe Burrage, PhD, RN, FAAN
Eskenazi Health, Indianapolis, IN


To provide data on which to develop a method to evaluate experiences of preceptors of nursing students on a Dedicated Education Unit (DEU)/Traditional Nursing Unit (TNU).  The specific aim was to describe experiences of nurse preceptors who have worked with at least two rotations of nursing students over the last 12 month in a DEU/TNU setting.  Current faculty shortages, increased patient care acuity, advanced technology, greater system complexity, and sophisticated computer systems have resulted in the increased need to use staff nurses preceptors to provide students with clinical instruction and experience. More information is needed about the experiences of preceptors of nursing students.  Studies specifically addressing preceptor experiences on DEUs are rare. 


Orling's Meaning of Preceptorship Theory guided this cross-sectional qualitative study.  A total of eleven full time registered nurses (convenience sample) with experience as preceptors on a DEU or traditional medical-surgical nursing units at a complex county acute care hospital were recruited to participate in digitally recorded individual interviews. Thematic content analysis was conducted to identify patterns and meanings. An iterative process of comparison was used to further analyze the data, moving between individual elements of the text.


Ten of the 11 participants were female. Four were between the ages of 31-40 years and 7 were between the ages of 41-60 years. Six held an ASN degree and 5 held a BSN. Seven participants reported employment at the agency for 18 months to 3 years, and 4 reported 10 or more years. Nine of the nurses were assigned to the DEU and 2 were not, with 5 of the 11 receiving formal training to be a preceptor. Three distinct themes emerged: Preceptor Role, Student Role, and Infrastructure (Agency) Role. Subthemes of barriers and facilitators emerged. 


Findings indicate concepts of preceptor, student, and infrastructure role and related barriers and facilitators should be considered in the development of instruments to assess nurse preceptor satisfaction. Further barriers and facilitators to these roles should be carefully examined when implementing programs to increase nurse preceptor satisfaction and retention.