Preceptorship and its benefits are explained by CSP professional adviser Alexandra Nambyiah
During periods of change, such as starting a new role, a structured programme of support can be beneficial for individuals as they settle into their job. This support can improve wellbeing, retention rates and can ensure that clinicians are confident and competent to carry out their role. This period of support is often referred to as a preceptorship - and ensuring that practitioners are given the right support from the start is more important now than ever.
What is preceptorship?
The term preceptorship is defined as ‘a period of structured transition for the newly registered practitioner during which he or she will be supported by a preceptor, to develop their confidence as an autonomous professional, refine skills, values and behaviours and to continue on their journey of life-long learning’ (Department of Health 2010). The preceptee is an individual who receives support and guidance, whilst the preceptor is the individual who provides this.
Preceptorship programmes should allow for lifelong learning, continuing professional development (CPD), and peer support. A good programme helps the preceptee to feel valued and invested in by their employers. It is recognised that preceptorship is not just suitable for newly qualified clinicians, but also for those who are returning to practice, for international recruits, and for those undergoing a significant change of career. Therefore, organisations should ensure that their programme suits their local workforce and setting.
What is not preceptorship?
Preceptorship is not designed to replace appraisals or be a substitute for a formal induction and mandatory training
(The Health and Care Professions Council 2022).
Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Trust provide a 10-month preceptorship programme for all AHPs. It is open to UK AHP graduates, international recruits and staff who are returning to practice after a period away.
The course is based on the four pillars of practice – clinical practice, leadership and management, education and research – and includes 10 in-person sessions with supplementary online learning. Topics for study include reflective practice, inter-professional learning, quality improvement and communication skills. Preceptors complete a dedicated training session and meet with their preceptee within the first two weeks of the programme. They are then encouraged to meet at least four times further, with suggested topics for discussion including CPD, reflective practice and personalised non-clinical objective setting.
Identified benefits from the programme include:
- the interprofessional networking and learning has enhanced awareness of each other’s roles and promotes multi-disciplinary collaboration.
- it is an effective way of introducing learning across the four pillars of practice to support future career development.
- it provides an additional layer of support and supervision for preceptees, and an additional point of contact for their transition into the workforce.
Ioan Vaughan, a physiotherapist for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, recently completed a 12-month preceptorship programme.
The programme made me feel valued by the team and demonstrated their investment in my personal and professional development.
The programme provided a platform with which Ioan could talk openly with a senior member of staff, with a holistic overview that was not confined to clinical practice. He was able to lead the discussion within the monthly 1:1 meetings with his preceptor, allowing him to reflect and to discuss personal wellbeing. Ioan has now become a preceptor himself and is looking forward to using his own experience to support the next cohort of colleagues.
Ioan’s top three lessons from the preceptorship programme:
- The importance of reflection and how it allows space to think about what you are seeing and learning day to day.
- Take responsibility for your own learning and development and you will reap the benefits further down the line.
- Use the knowledge of everyone in the team – senior members, other band 5s, technical instructors and assistants – they understand your concerns and are there to help.
Where can I find out more?
The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
The HCPC will soon publish a set of UK-wide preceptorship principles which aim to support employers with providing consistently high-quality preceptorship. They are also creating additional guidance to complement these principles.
Health Education England (HEE)
HEE have developed a National AHP Preceptorship and Foundation Support programme. One part of the support programme is pre-preceptorship and they have created a Step to Work online programme. They are also co-creating an allied healthcare professionals (AHP) preceptorship implementation framework to drive best practice.
The CapitalAHP programme, jointly led by HEE and NHS England, have developed a preceptorship framework. It is aimed at AHPs in London, but many elements are applicable throughout the UK.
Flying Start Scotland
This programme was developed in 2006 in response to the need for newly qualified staff to be supported as they transition from student to working clinician. They work with employers and health boards in Scotland to implement preceptorship programmes to nurses and AHPs.
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