The purpose of the study was to determine what the learning outcomes of a preceptor training programme should be to enable them to support students in various clinical settings.
The Nominal Group Technique was used to reach consensus among nurse educators. Multiple groups were used to gather data from. One group consisted of nursing deans of schools at universities and the other group consisted of nurse educators from public and private nursing colleges. A brief overview of the need for a standardized training programme was given to both groups by the facilitator. Both groups agreed that public and private health service institutions expect nurses entering the profession to be competent. The facilitator explained the components of competence. Thereafter the participants were asked to silently write down their ideas on what a preceptor should be able to do to enable students to make sound clinical judgment. All ideas were listed on a flip chart, clarified and clustered by the participants. Through an anonymous voting process the most important outcomes were identified. Data from both groups were combined to determine the final high ranking outcomes.
Preceptors should be experts in making sound clinical judgment but need training in various techniques that will stimulate critical thinking and clinical reasoning in students. Strategies that promote valid and reliable assessment, as well as techniques to provide constructive feedback to students should be part of the training programme. Furthermore, preceptors should be trained in the process of evidence based practice and be able to assist students in finding the best evidence for a specific question
Many training programmes include sessions on adult learning theories, learning styles, personality differences, clinical topics, transition to professional behavior, creating positive learning environments etc. Apparently these topics are insufficient to enable preceptors to support students in becoming competent professionals. Udlis, (2008) concluded in an integrative review that preceptors do not promote the development of clinical reasoning or clinical judgment. Clearly the traditional training of preceptors is not aligned with what is expected of them. Hopefully, the outcomes as determined by this research are more aligned with what is expected of preceptors and will enable preceptors to assist students in becoming competent professionals.
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