Preceptorship project encouraging excellence in nursing is first in country to be accredited

Laura Brookes, 22, from Poulton, Mandy Tarpey, 44, from Marton and Lizzie Slater, 26, from Lytham with Eleanor McManus (left) in the Education Centre at Blackpool Victoria Hospital

Nurses in the early stages of their careers are being given a welcome boost by a pioneering programme at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Set up and led by Eleanor McManus, the Trust’s new Career Transformation, Engagement and Development Manager, the Preceptorship programme aims to help nurses gain skills quickly and effectively.

Every health Trust in England is required to support Preceptorship in some way and in Blackpool the newly qualified nurses are on the scheme for their first 12 months post-qualification. The Preceptors (mentors) give personal instruction, training and supervision to the newly qualified nurses.

The Royal College of Nursing has given accreditation to the Trust’s Preceptorship Programme and the Trust is the only NHS organisation to have received this honour so far.

Eleanor has introduced ‘Area-Specific Skills Logs’ to the programme so that the students can keep a record of what they have achieved and what they still need to do.

Eleanor explained: “The Preceptorship programme makes the clinical skills training sessions easier to access and offers a structured framework so the newly qualified nurses are better at their jobs sooner.”

Nurses Laura Brookes, Lizzie Slater and Mandy Tarpey are at different stages in the Preceptorship programme and all agree that it is an excellent scheme.

Laura, 22, from Poulton, said: “I have found the Preceptorship programme really useful.

“I’ve had lots of support from ward managers and other colleagues, including Eleanor.

“I did a placement on Ward 16 as a student nurse and now I’m on Surgical High Care. We see ‘step-downs’ from ITU. We see patients who need epidurals or they might have had a laryngectomy.

“I have always wanted to be a nurse. I didn’t get in at first so I re-sat my exams. It’s nice to have finally got here.

“My mum, Chris Brookes, is a nurse so I’m following in her footsteps.

“It’s nice when you can see a difference in how you have helped a patient, especially if you have stayed extra hours to help.

Laura Brookes

“Some patients are very poorly and it’s nice to see them when they have recovered.

“I would like to specialise in the future but for now I am just seeing how it goes. I really enjoy it.”

Lizzie Slater, 26, from Lytham, said: “I have really enjoyed the Preceptorship programme.

“I find it very helpful. There is so much support to help you train for your role.

“I work in the Acute Frailty Unit on Ward 23 with Dr Mark Taylor. We mainly take patients from A&E and AMU. We try to improve the patient flow to make sure patients get the care they need when they need it.

“I enjoy it. It’s nice to do something different. I like working with older people. You learn a lot as there are so many different conditions. It’s a really good team to work with. Everyone has been really supportive.

Lizzie Slater

“I have learned a lot about working with patients with dementia and we do a great deal of palliative care work. I have gained a large amount of knowledge on the ward.

“When you know you have helped someone to die peacefully, without pain and that you have helped the family, it’s a good feeling.

“Although I am enjoying what I do at the moment, I will probably specialise at some point. That’s one of the good things about nursing. It’s never boring. There is always something new to learn. It’s a privilege to be able to help someone.”

Mandy, 44, from Marton, qualified as a nurse in April. Prior to her training she worked for the Trust for 10 years. She decided to have a change of career and studied Nursing at UCLan.

Mandy said: “I worked as an Assistant Cardiac Physiologist for the Trust and I had got to the top of my banding and couldn’t go any further.

“I wanted to move to a more patient-centred job so I did my Nursing degree at UCLan from 2014 to 2017. As well as studying I’ve been working on Ward 37 (Cardiology) for the last two years now as a HCA.

“We get a lot of patients from A&E. We see heart failure patients and patients from Coronary Care.

“It’s a good team. I have a lot of involvement with patients and more responsibility. I now have opportunities to progress and go whichever way I want.

“I like the structure and support that I have received through the Preceptorship programme. It has helped me to get used to my new role and to make the most of it.”

Mandy Tarpey

Eleanor said the Preceptorship programme includes competencies related to Trust values, medical devices training, professional development for NMC requirements, reflective accounts and training for revalidation requirements.

She said: “The newly qualified nurses can contact me for advice and support easily through social media.

“I can help them to sort out any problems. They can learn clinical skills such as venepuncture and cannulation.

“They also have training in assertiveness, resilience, stress management and coaching.

“The feedback on the programme is that the newly qualified nurses enjoy it and it is highly relevant to what they do.”

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