Preceptorship and transitioning into registered practice

Newly-registered nurse and UNISON Student Nurse Lead Joy O’Gorman talks about her transition into newly registered practice and discusses some of the work UNISON has been doing to secure better support.

I am incredibly proud to be wearing my nursing blues and I have so much new founded respect for the NHS family I am a part of. We are all doing incredible work in really challenging times. It’s so hard to see the pressures colleagues across the UK are under. We’re all struggling with the growing backlogs and the pandemic within an underfunded national health service.  Each day, however, we turn up on shift and give our all to those in our care.  This, and the NHS as a whole, continues to inspire me daily.

Although there are many challenges to our work, there is no greater feeling than being in a position to co-ordinate and give person centred care.  Yes, there are many difficult shifts, but even in these moments, making every contact count helps see me through.  I hear my experienced and seasoned peers say more and more that nursing is not the same anymore, and I know many are jaded.  I continue to see however that there are many, many passionate people within the NHS who are making a difference for staff and patients each day.  UNISON stewards and local branches are just one example of this collective work, so thank you for all you are doing for us.

I have found the preceptorship programme at my hospital Trust really helpful. It has really aided my transition into my new nursing role as I highlighted in a recent article I wrote for the NMC.  I am very proud of the work UNISON have been doing on preceptorship and support for newly qualified nurses and midwives over the past year.

This work has recently been endorsed by our national Health Conference, and we have had support from various other organisations like Health Education England and the NMC.  It is so important that newly qualified nurses feel supported and safe in their new roles. Preceptorship programmes are one way of helping to ensure this. But lots more work needs to be done so there is some consistency in programme availability and high standards across the UK.

What has become more apparent also is the vital need for self-care and down time post shift as well as advocating for ourselves and others.  This is what UNISON has done so well for us as students over the past two years of turbulence and something which I am driven to continue to do throughout my nursing career.

Please take care of yourself this winter, it is no doubt going to be tough.  So do speak up and contact your local steward or UNISON branch if you are struggling or would like to be a part of the support offered in your area.

The UNISON Health Team continues to work on securing improved preceptorships for newly registered nurses and midwives. We have written to system leaders in the different parts of the UK asking them to note our recommendations and put more resources into this support. We have co-authored guidance for NHS Trusts in England who appoint new healthcare professionals with NHS Employers ( We are coordinating a group of organisations including royal colleges to share data and strengthen the available support.