Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Nursing Honours


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Supervisor

Helene Metcalfe

Second Supervisor

Sadie Geraghty


Leadership in the nursing profession has gained much attention over the previous decade. However, there is a paucity of literature examining the context of leadership within the clinical preceptor/undergraduate nursing student relationship and the relevance of this to the clinical learning environment. Globally, the nursing profession is experiencing a climbing attrition rate, an accelerating ageing workforce and a trend toward part-time employment. Practical experience is based upon a preceptored model of supervision creating a potential for inconsistencies for student supervision and assessment within this mode of education. The purpose of this study was to explore, from the perspective of the undergraduate nurse, the leadership qualities in clinical preceptors that are desirable and contribute to positive practicum experiences. The conceptual framework underpinning the variables within the study was developed in recognition of the need for a context specific framework to guide integratior of the concept of leadership into preceptored education for undergraduate student nurses. The synergy model of preceptorship has been adapted to consider leadership qualities in nurse preceptors and how synergistic interactions between preceptors and preceptees contributes to positive outcomes for patients, preceptors, preceptees, healthcare organisations and education providers. This study utilised a mixed methodological approach with a descriptive survey design to study the perceptions of undergraduate nursing students enrolled in the second year of a pre-registration nursing program within a large tertiary nursing school in Western Australia. The quantitative data was analysed using simple descriptive statistics including frequency distributions and measures of central tendency. The qualitative data obtained through the open-ended questions within the survey were analysed thematically. The findings showed that students both want and need leadership from their preceptors in order to develop psychomotor skill competency and to experience socialisation to the real world of nursing care. Findings also highlighted the importance of the development of positive interpersonal relationships between preceptors and students. Barriers to effective preceptorship in practice were identified. This research study has offered a unique insight into the factors that impact upon students practical experiences through the supervisory relationships experienced in practice. Gaining insight into the leadership qualities that students perceive as desirable to enhance the practical experience is vital with the consideration that the practical experience is viewed as the 'make or break' for many students and influences retention in undergraduate education and within the profession post registration. The study findings suggest that preceptors need more preparation for the preceptorial role and student views of effective characteristics associated with leadership should be integrated into preceptor training to ensure that students' needs are met.