Creating a supported and confident workforce

Hui Jie Chia introduces the new HCPC principles for preceptorship and explains what they mean for members

Creating a supported and confident workforce
Creating a supported and confident workforce [Illustrations: Diarmund O’Cathain]

We have all had, or will have, the experience of starting a new role and going through a settling-in period. How new colleagues are welcomed and integrated into a new team and workplace can have a huge impact on their subsequent job experience. For new physios, those returning to work and those working in the UK for the first time, their first few months in the job can shape their career, both in terms of skills development and, crucially, their growing confidence. 

Structured support during career transitions 

To support all allied health professionals, preceptorship – a period of structured support – should be provided to Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registrants at key moments of career transition. 

As well as those starting out, returning to work (including being readmitted to the register) and new to working in the UK, it should also be offered to those moving to a new work sector to give them confidence to act as an autonomous practitioner. 

To better support this approach, in November 2023 the HCPC introduced the Principles for Preceptorship alongside supporting information to enable health and care professionals to access preceptorship to support them at key transition phases in employment. This in turn enables them to offer safe, compassionate, and high-quality care to patients.   

Empowered and valued 

Hui Jie Chia is a professional adviser at the CSP
Hui Jie Chia is a professional adviser at the CSP

The CSP wholeheartedly welcomes the introduction of these principles. Physios should have structured preceptorship opportunities, inclusive access to tailored support and development opportunities including comprehensive health and well-being support and any necessary reasonable adjustments, enabling them to navigate new roles and cultivate the professional confidence necessary to meet HCPC standards. The preceptorship principles should empower the preceptee in the workplace and ensure they feel valued.  

This is crucial because it directly impacts the well-being and success of professionals and organisations. Creating a supportive and effective environment within organisations will support the growth of the workforce, enabling them to achieve their potential. 

Does preceptorship replace supervision or other support?  

The HCPC emphasises that while preceptorship is essential, it should not be seen as identical or a substitute for other forms of support. Other crucial support structures like induction, probation, mentoring, clinical and line management supervision serve distinct purposes. They concentrate on enhancing skills, improving competencies, or advancing careers, rather than specifically addressing transitional phases.   

Do I need to have extra paperwork for preceptorship?  

We are all responsible for maintaining a continuous, up-to-date and accurate record of CPD activities. This could include a preceptorship portfolio for preceptorship meetings’ frequency, date, discussions, reflections and action plans for example. 

Duplication of paperwork or ‘tick box exercises’ should be avoided. There is a useful AHP preceptorship toolkit from NHS England to help with structuring a portfolio.  

Should a supervisor/line manager also be a preceptor?  

The HCPC does not specify whether your preceptor must be the same individual as your line manager or clinical supervisor. However, the CSP recommends that your preceptor should ideally be a different person to your clinical supervisor or line manager.

This aligns with the guidance that preceptorship should not retest clinical competency but empower the preceptee to reflect their practice and identify support needed to develop their professional confidence, aiming to minimise potential conflicts in providing competency support. 

What should preceptorship look like for me?

I work outside the NHS 

While preceptorship is not mandatory for HCPC registration, there is strong evidence that providing it is beneficial for individuals’ professional practice, well-being, and in staff recruitment and retention.  For those who work independently, if there is no preceptorship in place, use the principles to make a business case for providing preceptorship. Some CSP networks could signpost you to someone who may be able to offer peer support, or access the CSP mentoring scheme.

I am an international registrant 

Preceptorship should help you to understand cultural differences, how the UK’s health and care system operate and how communication and UK service users’ expectations differ compared to your home country. This should support you in meeting HCPC regulatory standards.  If you are preparing to work in the UK, you can also access the Step to Work programme for preparation portal. 

I am a student  

Look at whether preceptorship is offered by a potential workplace when applying for a job. Your higher education institution may integrate the Step to Work programme into the course or access the programme online to engage in pre-preceptorship activities. 

I am rotational staff  

Preceptorship should offer continuous support for you regardless of which rotation you are on. To tailor the preceptorship experience, a preceptor should provide consistent support as you navigate through different rotations. 

I am a preceptor 

The role of the preceptor is an integral part of a successful preceptorship. 

You should have access to appropriate training, allocated time and support to fulfil the role. 

You can access the multi-professional preceptor e-compendium training via the NHSE Learning Hub which is also fully accessible outside the NHS. You don’t need to be from the same profession as preceptees but should be the most appropriate individual to provide support.

HCPC’s five preceptorship principles

  • Principle 1    Organisational culture & preceptorship.
  • Principle 2    Quality & oversight of preceptorship.
  • Principle 3    Preceptee empowerment.
  • Principle 4    Preceptor role.
  • Principle 5    Delivering preceptorship programmes.

The five principles are intentionally broad, making them adaptable and applicable to all types of allied health professionals. The HCPC encourages its registrants to use their guidelines to access existing preceptorship programs or to aid in developing new ones where they do not exist.  


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