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Preceptorship and nurse practitioner education: navigating the liminal space Open Access


Other title
nurse practitioner education
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Billay, Diane B.
Supervisor and department
Dr. Florence Myrick (Faculty of Nursing)
Examining committee member and department
Dr. Judith Lupart (Educational Psychology)
Dr. Pauline Paul (Faculty of Nursing)
Dr. Carroll Iwasiw (Faculty of Nursing, University of Western Ontario)
Dr. Olive Yonge (Faculty of Nursing)
Dr. Marion Allen (Faculty of Nursing)
Faculty of Nursing

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Preceptorship is a teaching-learning approach in which learners are individually assigned to expert practitioners in the practice setting. The purpose is to provide them with daily experience on a one-to-one basis with a role model and resource person who is immediately available to them. Currently, the literature is replete with research on various aspects of preceptorship, including the preceptor role, the evaluation process, professional socialization, the promotion of clinical competence, and the fostering of critical thinking in undergraduate and graduate education, to name a few. To date, however, no studies have specifically explored the process involved in promoting the education of nurse practitioner students in preceptorship. The purpose of this grounded theory study was to explore the process used in preceptorship to prepare nurse practitioner students for their future role in professional practice. To that end, the process in which preceptors, nurse practitioner students, and faculty engage was explored. The sample comprised nurse practitioner students, preceptors and faculty from a large university in western Canada. Findings from this study revealed that as students proceeded through the preceptorship program they worked through or navigated what could be described as the liminal space or an in-between place. As a result of the findings of this study, several crucial points have been recognized that have implications for the nurse practitioner student who engages in preceptorship. First, upon acceptance into an advanced practice nursing program it is important for students who are themselves experienced professionals in their own right, to understand the preceptorship process of transition, found in this study to be the liminal space, intrinsic to which are adjustments from the role of nurse, to that of student and finally to that of the nurse practitioner. Second, to adequately prepare students for their transition, faculty need to develop curricula that address the challenges involved with this phenomenon, specifically knowledge related to threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge. Third, support for these students from faculty, preceptors and fellow students was found to directly affect the ability of these learners to successfully navigate their transitional process in preceptorship.
License granted by Diane Billay ( on 2010-07-29T18:15:31Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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File title: Negotiating the Liminal Space
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