• Yvonne Botma University of the Free State
Keywords: Preceptor, competence, outcomes, training


Purpose: Facilitating learning in the clinical context is a complex act for which preceptors should be trained. However, there is no consensus on what should be included in a training programme for preceptors. The purpose of the article is to describe the competences of a preceptor that emanated from a consensus reaching process among nurse educators in South Africa.Methodology: Nurse educators reached consensus on the core competences of a preceptor through nominal groups. Non-probability convenient sampling was used to sample nurse educators from universities as well as public and private nursing colleges. The two nominal groups generated data that were combined to identify the content of preceptor training programme.Results: Key findings were that preceptors should be able to facilitate learning through a variety of techniques and perform valid and reliable assessment. Preceptors should support students in finding and implementing best available evidence of care for a specific patient.Conclusion and recommendation: It is the responsibility of nursing education institutions to produce clinically competent nurses. A competent nurse is able to think critically, reason clinically, make sound clinical judgments, and reflect on the thinking processes applied. Preceptors, therefore, should support nursing students in these thinking processes and create opportunities where they can practice under supervision to become competent nurses. The training programme should enable preceptors to facilitating learning in the clinical environment through a variety of techniques, conduct valid and reliable assessments, and support students in implementing best practice guidelines.

Author Biography

Yvonne Botma, University of the Free State
Associate ProfessorSchool of NursingFaculty of Health Sciences


Abdullah, M. M. B., & Islam, R. (2011). Nominal Group Technique and its Applications in Managing Quality in Higher Education. Pakistan Journal of Commerce and Social Science, 5(1), 81–99.

Andrews, M., Brewer, M., Buchan, T., Denne, A., Hammond, J., & Hardy, G. (2010). Implementation and sustainability of the nursing and midwifery standards for mentoring in the UK. Nurse Education in Practice, 10(2010), 251–255.

Banning, M. (2008). The think aloud approach as an educational tool to develop and assess clinical reasoning in undergraduate students. Nurse Education Today, 28, 8–14.

Botma, Y., Brysiewicz, P., Chipps, J., Mthembu, S. & Phillips, M. 2013. Creating stimulating learning opportunities. Cape Town: Pearson Education South Africa.

Botma, Y., Hurter, S., & Kotze, R. (2012). Responsibilities of nursing schools with regard to peer mentoring. Journal of Nursing Education Today. 33(8): 808-813.

Bott, G., & Lawlor, Y. (2011). A clinical teaching technique for nurse preceptors : the five minute preceptor. Journal of Professional Nursing, 27(1), 35–42.

Boyle, C. J., Morgan, J. A., Layson-wolf, C., & de Bittner, M. R. (2009). Developing and Implementing an Academy of Preceptors. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 73(2), Article 34.

Bray, L., & Nettleton, P. (2007). Assessor or mentor? Role confusion in professional education. Nurse education today, 27(8), 848–855.

Bruce, J., Klopper, H., & Mellish, J. (2011). Teaching and learning the practice of nursing (5th ed.). Cape Town: Pearson Education.

Burns, C., Beauchesne, M., Ryan-Krause, P., & Sawin, K. (2000). Mastering the preceptor role: challenges of clinical teaching. Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 20(3), 172–83. doi:10.1016/j.pedhc.2005.10.012

Burns, H. K., & Northcutt, T. (2009a). Supporting preceptors: a three-pronged approach for success. Journal of continuing education in nursing, 40(11), 509–13.

Carlson, E. (2013). Precepting and symbolic interactionism--a theoretical look at preceptorship during clinical practice. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 69(2), 457–64.

Chang, M. J., Chang, Y.-J., Kuo, S.-H., Yang, Y.-H., & Chou, F.-H. (2011). Relationships between critical thinking ability and nursing competence in clinical nurses. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 20(21-22), 3224–32.

Chen, Y., Duh, Y., Feng, Y., & Huang, Y. (2011). Preceptors ’ Experiences Training New Graduate Nurses : A Hermeneutic Phenomenological Approach. Journal of Nursing Research, 19(2), 132–139.

Clynes, M. P., & Raftery, S. E. C. (2008). Feedback: an essential element of student learning in clinical practice. Nurse education in practice, 8(6), 405–411.

Conway-Klaassen, J. M., Brennecke, P. J., Wiesner, S. M., & Spannaus-Martin, D. J. (2012). Development of online conferencing and web-based in-service modules for preceptor training. Clinical laboratory science : Journal of the American Society for Medical Technology, 25(4), 26–33.

Davidson, J. E. (2009). Preceptor Use of Classroom Assessment Techniques to Stimulate Higher-Order Thinking in the Clinical Setting. Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 40(3), 139–144.

Delbecq, A. L., & Van De Ven, A H Gustafson, D. H. (1975). Group techniques for program planning - a guide to nominal group and delphi processes. Glenview: Scott Foresman and Company.

Dube, A., & Jooste, K. (2006). The leadership characteristics of the preceptor in selected clinical practice settings in Botswana. Curationis, 29(3), 24–40.

Duffy, A. (2009). Guiding students through reflective practice – The preceptors experiences. A qualitative descriptive study. Nurse Education in Practice, 9(3), 166–175.

Forneris, S. G., & Peden-McAlpine, C. J. (2006). International Journal of Nursing Contextual Learning : A Reflective Learning Intervention for Nursing Education Contextual Learning : A Reflective Learning Intervention for Nursing Education ∗, 3(1).

Gallagher, P., Tweed, M., Hanna, S., Winter, H., & Hoare, K. (2012). Developing the One-Minute Preceptor. The Clinical Teacher, 9, 358–362.

Giallonardo, L. M., Wong, C. A, & Iwasiw, C. L. (2010). Authentic leadership of preceptors: predictor of new graduate nurses’ work engagement and job satisfaction. Journal of Nursing Management, 18(8), 993–1003.

González, H. L., Palencia, A. P., Umaña, L. A., Galindo, L., & Villafrade M, L. A. (2008). Mediated learning experience and concept maps: a pedagogical tool for achieving meaningful learning in medical physiology students. Advances in Physiology Education, 32(4), 312–6.

Haggerty, C., Holloway, K., & Wilson, D. (2012). Entry to nursing practice preceptor education and support: could we do it better? Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 28(1), 30–39.

Huybrecht, S., Loeckx, W., Quaeyhaegens, Y., De Tobel, D., & Mistiaen, W. (2011). Mentoring in nursing education: perceived characteristics of mentors and the consequences of mentorship. Nurse Education Today, 31(3), 274–278.

James, A., & Chapman, Y. (2010). Preceptors and patients - the power of two: nursing student experiences on their first acute clinical placement. Contemporary Nurse, 34(1), 34–47.

Karimi, R., Cawley, P., & Arendt, C. S. (2011). Learning bridge tool to improve student learning, preceptor training, and faculty teamwork. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 75(3), Article 46.

Larsen, R., & Zahner, S. J. (2011). The impact of Web-delivered education on preceptor role self-efficacy and knowledge in public health nurses. Public Health Nursing (Boston, Mass.), 28(4), 349–356.

Liu, M., Lei, Y., Mingxia, Z., & Haobin, Y. (2010). Lived experiences of clinical preceptors: a phenomenological study. Nurse education today, 30(8), 804–808.

Lundberg, K. M. (2008). Promoting self-confidence in clinical nursing students. Nurse educator, 33(2), 86–89.

Melnyk, B. M., Fineout-Overholt, E., & Williamson, K. W. (2010). The Seven Steps of Evidence-Based Practice. American Journal of Nursing, 110(1), 51–53.

Mulder, M., & Uys, L. R. (2012). Baseline measurement of the implementation process of the proposed model for clinical nursing education and training in South African universities. In L. R. Uys & H. C. Klopper (Eds.), Trends in Nursing 2012 (pp. 59–84). Pretoria: FUNDISA.

Myrick, F., & Yonge, O. (2002). Preceptor questioning and student critical thinking. Journal of Professional Nursing, 18(3), 176–181.

Ness, V., Duffy, K., McCallum, J., & Price, L. (2010). Supporting and mentoring nursing students in practice. Nursing standard (Royal College of Nursing (Great Britain) : 1987), 25(1), 41–6.

Nursing Education Stakeholders (NES). (2012). A proposed model for clinical nursing education and training in South Africa. In Trends in Nursing 2012 (pp. 49–58). Pretoria: FUNDISA.

Nursing Summit Organising Committee and the Ministerial Task Team. (2012). The nursing summit of 2011. In Trends in Nursing 2012 (pp. 33–48). Pretoria: FUNDISA.

Omansky, G. L. (2010). Staff nurses’ experiences as preceptors and mentors: an integrative review. Journal of nursing management, 18(6), 697–703.

Omer, T. Y., Suliman, W. a, Thomas, L., & Joseph, J. (2013). Perception of nursing students to two models of preceptorship in clinical training. Nurse Education in Practice, 13(3), 155–160.

Ortman, D., Mann, L., & Arsenault, J. F. (2010). Perceived Roles, Benefits, and Supports for Dietetic Internship Preceptors. Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research, 71(1), 33–38.

Smedley, A., & Penny, D. (2009). A Partnership Approach to the Preparation of Preceptors. Nursing Education Perspectives, 30(1), 31–36.

South African Nursing Council (SANC). 2012. Additional qualifications on the register of nurses and midwives. Online. Available from: [2013/12/11].

South African Nursing Council (SANC). n.d. Nursing Education and Training Standards. Online. Available from: [2013/12/11].

Stodel, E. J., Montpetit, M., Eyre, A., Prentice, M., & Johnston, M. (2012). The Academic Support Process (ASP) website: helping preceptors develop resident learning plans and track progress. Medical teacher, 34(5), e300–308. doi:10.3109/0142159X.2012.670328

Tanner, C. A. (2006). Thinking like a nurse: a research-based model of clinical judgment in nursing. The Journal of nursing education, 45(6), 204–11.

Troxel, D. (2009). Connections: Online preceptor education. Nursing Management, (October), 32–37.

Udlis, K. A. (2008). Preceptorship in undergraduate nursing education: an integrative review. The Journal of Nursing Education, 47(1), 20–9.

Varga-Atkins, T. (2011). The Nominal Group Technique – a practical guide for facilitators. Liverpool.

Vos, S. S., & Trewet, C. B. (2012). Experiential Education a comprehensive approach to preceptor development. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 76(3), Article 47.

Wade, G. H., & Hayes, E. (2010). Challenges and opportunities associated with preceptored community health clinical experiences. Public Health Nursing (Boston, Mass.), 27(5), 459–467.

Zilembo, M., & Monterosso, L. (2008). Nursing students perceptions of desirable leadership qualities in nurse preceptors: a descriptive survey. Contemporary Nurse, 27(2), 194–206.