A recent study undertaken by the authors (2007) highlighted that undergraduate nursing students were subjected to varying experiences in clinical practice, which were mediated by a number of factors. Mediating factors included continuity of preceptors, student attitudes, the clinical setting environment, student and preceptor expectations of the clinical practice experience and interactions between the student and preceptor. Of note, interactions with preceptors were seen to 'make or break' the practical experience. Therefore, the relationship that is forged between preceptor and student is vital in shaping the student's experience of the clinical area and of the real world of nursing work. Early positive socialisation experiences have been shown to improve retention rates of new nurses (Greene & Puetzer 2002), which are issues of prime concern in an era of worsening nursing shortages at all levels of the profession. A conceptual framework designed to guide preceptorship may help alleviate some of the difficulties experienced by undergraduate nurses in building relationships within the complex interactions of the nursing environment. The framework proposed in this paper offers a conceptual model that links positive preceptor leadership qualities (such as compassion, care and empathy) with student characteristics. This model proposes that synergistic interactions between nursing students and preceptors results in positive implications for the nursing workforce. This framework also has the potential for further development to fill the void created by a lack of conceptual guidance for supervisory interactions within the undergraduate clinical context.