What is preceptorship?

For physios who were trained overseas, are starting their first job after university, or are returning to practice, a preceptorship programme of support can improve confidence and increase retention rates. 

After three to four years post-registration around one in 15 Physiotherapists have left the Health care professions council (HCPC) register.

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A structured programme of support can be hugely beneficial for individuals settling into a new role.

This support can improve wellbeing, retention rates and ensure that clinicians are confident and competent to carry out their role. 

This period of support is often referred to as a preceptorship programme and is well established in the nursing profession.

Managers and leads report that some clinicians who were studying during the pandemic missed out on in-person placements, and so do not have enough experience and confidence to work as professionals straight from university. It is now more important than ever that clinicians are given the right support from the start.

Webinar recording  

Watch the recording of the 5 October webinar by the CSP, HCPC and NHS England Workforce Training and Education National AHP Preceptorship and Foundation Support Programme.

Passcode for webinar recording: 2@!2puIs

The term preceptorship is defined as: 'A period of structured support and development during periods of transition, during which the AHP will be supported to help them grow in confidence as an autonomous and accountable practitioner' (NHS England).

  • The preceptee is described as an individual who receives support and guidance.
  • The preceptor is the individual who provides this support to the preceptee.   

Preceptorship programmes for allied health professionals (AHPs) also allow for lifelong learning, CPD development, peer support and feeling valued, respected and invested in by employers.

Who is preceptorship for?

Recently, the HCPC described preceptorship as a period of structured support and development during periods of career transition, during which a preceptee is supported by a preceptor to develop their confidence as an autonomous and accountable professional.  

So, preceptorship is not just suitable for newly qualified clinicians but also for individuals who are returning to practice, international recruits or those changing career direction entirely.

Preceptorship is not designed ‘to replace appraisals or be a substitute for a formal induction and mandatory training.’ (HCPC, 2022)

The CSP wholeheartedly welcomes the introduction of these principles of preceptorship. 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. This, in turn, contributes to the overall quality of care and professional standards. 

Frequently asked questions about preceptorship

Does preceptorship replace supervision or other forms of 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 to maintain a continuous, up-to-date and accurate record of CDP activities. Preceptee and preceptor should keep a preceptorship portfolio for preceptorship meetings’ frequency, date, discussions, reflections, action plans etc. Duplication of paperwork to other forms of support or ‘tick box exercise’ should be avoided. There is a useful Allied Health Profession (AHP) Preceptorship toolkit from NHS England (NHSE) to help with thinking about the structure of 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. 

This work has been supported by NHSE (formerly HEE).

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