Preceptorship nightmare! what to do?


I have just started my first nursing job in the UK, I have been waiting for this moment for the last three years! I was even more pleased to have been excepted for a staff nurse role in the trust where I have completed my student training and thought things couldn't be better. I didn't get a choice in where I could work which I thinks is the generally the case in most trusts now.

First day was a bit odd. I was told that we don't get breaks on early shifts and various staff members kept telling me how much they hated the ward and that I should do 6 months and apply for another job. Aswell as that, the ward manager is on long term sick (apparently because the ward had been found to be under performing in many areas and she has been off ever since). So the Sister is temporarily taking charge, who is unapproachable, stern to say the least, who is also my preceptor. The ward is currently short staffed by five staff nurses at the moment and a few staff are off sick, so you can imagine how stressed everyone is.

I had two days of being supernumerary during which I didn't have the chance to shadow my preceptor that much because I was asked to help out all teams on the ward. I was then told that they couldn't afford for me to be supernumerary for 2 weeks because they were so short staffed so I would have to start taking my own team.

Since my third day I have been responsible for my team without hardly any support. The patients on my ward are very ill and on a few occassions they have put in the heaviest team to basically get on with it. I am terrified because I don't feel at all ready for this and I am scared that I am going to do something wrong, or miss something and that it will have consequences. The ward is really disorganised and everyone is under pressure with there own workload without trying to help me aswell, so when I try and ask for help I don't get much response or I get looked at like I've got eight heads or something.

My preceptor has been really cold towards me, as she is with everyone, and when I ask her a question or try to get some advice it's obvious that she hasn't got the time for it. I'm feeling under huge pressure at the moment and I'm scared for my patients due to my inexperience, and my career! I don't think it's right that they should allow newly qualified nurses to start in this type of environment where we can't get the right support, I'm going home most nights extremely anxious and finding it hard to sleep.

I'm in to my third week and it's getting worse rather than better. I feel humiliated most days because the MDT talk to me like I should know what their talking about or what I should do, and when I ask them whether they could explain I made to feel stupid and on a couple of occassions people have laughed at me.

It's a hostile and negative environment and everyone is complaining about each other all the time. I always knew that the transition from student to nurse was going to be hard, but this is crazy! Some of my friends are still spernumery working within the same trust. I just don't know what to do, any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks

CrufflerJJ, RN

1 Article; 1,023 Posts

Specializes in ICU. Has 5 years experience.

It sounds like a horrible situation. As a new RN, you're bound to feel less than competent. To have a hostile, non-supportive "preceptor" has to make things even worse.

That being said, people WILL laugh at you. As a new nurse, you're bound to do/say things that seem odd or "wrong" to the more experienced nurses. Such is life.

I'd encourage you to tough it out as best you can until you can find a job with a more supportive environment for new graduate nurses. Then, and ONLY then...leave your current position.


allnurses Guide


8 Articles; 3,016 Posts

Specializes in Advanced Practice, surgery. Has 35 years experience.

that doesn't sound like a good situation to find yourself in, the advice I would give to someone coming to me professionally for advice would be to raise it with a senior colleague.

Your code states your accountable by act or omission, therefore if you don't speak out and something happens you will be responsible.

Is there a band 6 you can speak to, if not the do you feel able to raise your concerns with the acting ward sister. Is there a practice educator / development nurse you could speak to.

If your still not comfortable and don't feel supported what about matron or the senior nursing team, if the ward is struggling they would want to know.

babyNP., APRN

1,921 Posts

Specializes in NICU. Has 15 years experience.

I agree with XB--you need to protect your license. Part of the course I'm doing to get a British license is to look up a few people who have been struck off the register or put on suspension. They have the details of the case listed and some of it sounds really harsh, especially compared to the US. There was a new grad who wasn't doing too well after 3 months, made a few mistakes but nothing red flag major and she's on suspension for 18 months. I feel like over here in the states, the employer would just dismiss you (not put you up to the board of nursing!), but you don't want them to use this as an opportunity to go to the NMC and you presented over a board of people. Think of all the work you've done for your degree...I can't imagine it being thrown out largely because you weren't supported in your environment. I wish you the best of luck...let us know how things go.