Original Research - Special Collection: Contemporary Issues in Nursing

Preceptor support during the COVID-19 pandemic: Recommendations for continuing development

Lizemari Hugo-Van Dyk, Champion N. Nyoni, Margaret Williams, Benjamin S. Botha
Curationis | Vol 45, No 1 | a2370 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v45i1.2370 | © 2022 Lizemari Hugo-Van Dyk, Champion N. Nyoni, Margaret Williams, Benjamin S. Botha | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 June 2022 | Published: 27 October 2022

About the author(s)

Lizemari Hugo-Van Dyk, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Nursing, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Champion N. Nyoni, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Nursing, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Margaret Williams, Centre for Community Technology, School of Information Technology, Nelson Mandela University, Gqeberha, South Africa
Benjamin S. Botha, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Nursing, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Mentally fit preceptors may be more capable and flexible in providing students with system, emotional and cognitive support in the clinical learning environment (CLE) in the face of any life-threatening outbreaks. Existing professional development programmes for preceptors emphasise the development of preceptor competence in a normal CLE with minimal focus on their ability to engage with adverse events that challenge their mental health.

Objective: The study sought insight from preceptors’ experiences during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic to identify their professional development programme needs while providing support to students during accompaniment.

Method: A mixed methods convergent parallel design was used to collect data from 24 preceptors at a nursing education institution (NEI). Eleven preceptors responded to the survey that included the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Stress Scale (CSS) and Burnout Assessment Tool (BAT) to collect quantitative data. Semistructured interviews were conducted with five purposively selected preceptors to collect qualitative data regarding their experiences while accompanying students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Results: Subscales within the CSS and BAT instruments were mapped against an existing preceptor support framework. Overall CSS data for each subscale indicated an average score varying from no stress to moderate stress, while BAT data shows that respondents rarely experienced burnout. However, some respondents experienced very high levels of stress and burnout. Qualitative data supplemented results.

Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic influenced preceptors’ role in supporting students and reflecting that they amended their functioning role. Existing preceptor professional development programmes should be reviewed to ensure that the necessary concepts that foster resilience are integrated to enhance the functional role of preceptors in adversity.

Contribution: Existing preceptor professional development programmes should be reviewed to ensure that the necessary concepts that foster resilience are integrated to enhance the functional role of preceptors in adversity.


Keywords

COVID-19; continuous professional development; clinical learning environment; preceptors; undergraduate nursing students

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