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Work role transitions – expert nurses to novice preceptors

Janice Miller (College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, USA)
Brian Vivona (Department of Literacy, Leadership, and Development, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, Illinois, USA)
Gene Roth (Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois, USA)

European Journal of Training and Development

ISSN: 2046-9012

Article publication date: 3 July 2017




Several issues are reported in the literature regarding the preparation and training of nurses for the preceptor role. The purpose of this study is to explore the experiences, growth and development of nurses transitioning to the preceptor role in allied health contexts.


A basic interpretive qualitative research method was used for this study. In total, 20 preceptors who were practicing in a variety of healthcare settings participated in in-depth interviews.


The preceptors of this study found meaning through their teaching and learning encounters with novice nurses. Their meaning making led to identity development and new perspectives on both the nursing and preceptor roles.

Research limitations/implications

This study extends the literature on informal learning and training by focusing on the unique work role of nurse precepting. Conclusions of this study call for additional research that examines other occupational areas in which workers have transitioned from expert to novice again, and how training can enhance these transitions

Practical implications

Participants described several areas of improvement for preceptorships: additional administrative support, guidelines and standards for preceptor training and preparation and additional time and support for transitioning to the preceptor role


Work role transition theory was used in this study to examine the preparation and training of preceptors. This study features the voices of nursing preceptors who have experienced changes in their employment status and major shifts in their work roles transitioning from expert to novice to expert again.



Miller, J., Vivona, B. and Roth, G. (2017), "Work role transitions – expert nurses to novice preceptors", European Journal of Training and Development, Vol. 41 No. 6, pp. 559-574.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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