Preceptorships are invaluable periods of transition for newly qualified healthcare practitioners, equipping them with the skills they need to deliver confident and competent care. For your prospective staff, a dynamic and engaging preceptorship programme can be a key factor in choosing where to work.
With the digitisation of the NHS underway, and an increasingly competitive recruitment market, the organisations who attract top talent will be the ones who stay ahead of the curve. A cutting-edge, robust preceptorship programme supported by innovative learning technology ensures the healthcare professionals of tomorrow start their journeys the right way.
In this blog, we explain everything you need to know about NHS preceptorships, and how Learning Workflow Platforms can facilitate their delivery.
What are preceptorships?
An NHS preceptorship is a structured period of transition that supports and guides newly qualified health practitioners during their first year of employment, helping them become experienced and confident professionals capable of providing excellent standards of care. The preceptee or new employee is mentored by an experienced professional from within the organisation (the preceptor).
During the preceptorship, the newly qualified practitioner refines and develops their skills through a range of workplace training, structured study, and regular feedback and check-ins with their mentor. By the end of the programme, the preceptee should be confident and highly skilled, ready to continue their healthcare careers as proficient and autonomous professionals.
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How long do preceptorships take?
The exact length of your preceptorship programme will depend upon individual needs, the requirements of your organisation, and the resources available. National recommendations state that the programme should last for a minimum of 6-9 months. Though 12 months is preferred and some preceptees might need support for longer than this.
Preceptorship framework requirements
As an employer, you will need to support the allocation of what is known as ‘protected time’ for the preceptee and their preceptor. This time should be reserved for joint reflection, learning workflows and activities, supervisions, and workplace learning. At the start of the preceptorship, there should be a supernumerary period where the newly qualified practitioner is not counted as part of the workforce but is instead given the space and time they need to learn. During the first month, the preceptee and preceptor should be allowed to work together for at least 4 days and conduct regular formal meetings throughout the duration of the programme.
Varied learning opportunities
The key to a successful preceptorship is a blended learning approach with a diverse mix of learning opportunities. As well as formal study according to their job role, the preceptee should have opportunities to learn in the flow of work, access elearning resources, reflect on their progress, and work collaboratively with others in the organisation. It is this combination of formal and informal learning that will ensure the new behaviours become fully ingrained. Preceptees will be able to put their new skills into practice immediately – expediting the entry of newfound knowledge into the real world of work.
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The content of a preceptorship programme can vary depending on the NHS Trust and the training needs of the newly qualified practitioner. Typically though, it should include an induction to the Trust and the organisation, a transitional needs analysis for the preceptee, a personal development plan, learning workflows, reflection time, supervised workplace learning, and formal study days tailored to the employee’s specific role and responsibilities.
The chosen preceptor should have at least 12 months experience working as a registered practitioner. Someone within a few years of the start of their career can make a great choice as they will have relatively recently experienced the process themselves. The preceptor should also be mentoring no more than two preceptees at any one time, to ensure they can provide each individual with enough attention.
A preceptorship lead is the person who oversees the programme, allocates preceptors, and identifies additional support needs. They are also in charge of monitoring completion rates and carrying out checks to verify the effectiveness and impact of the programme and justify further investment and development.
Benefits of preceptorships
There are many advantages to preceptorship programmes for newly qualified practitioners and the organisations employing them. Below, we outline some of the key benefits to note.
- Enhanced skillset and experience.
- Regular opportunities to learn.
- Transparent career development.
- Improved confidence carrying out duties.
- Less likely to make errors or be involved in incidents.
- A sophisticated preceptorship programme boosts employer brand and attracts top talent.
- Organisations are able to deliver better patient care.
- Employers see greater staff cohesivity, morale, and retention rates.
- Providing equitable and inclusive access to support helps organisations meet diversity criteria.
- There are likely to be fewer incidents and errors as a result of high-quality training.
Preceptorships & learning platforms
Your new members of staff are on a journey. It’s one of continuous development and learning, enabling them to deliver confident, compassionate, and skilled care throughout their careers. No one wants to start a journey of such importance in a vehicle that looks like it’s seen better days. In a competitive recruitment market, your Trust needs to stand out from the others. To ensure they reach their desired destination and career potential, new recruits need to know that the Trust they choose to work for has the facilities, ambition, and vision to take them there.
The future of the NHS is digital. Organisations that remain stuck in the past are never going to attract the talent they need to thrive and excel for their patients. Founded on principles of blended learning and mentorship, preceptorships actually demand a hybrid first approach to learning. A Learning Workflow Platform (LWP) can help you deliver your preceptorship in a dynamic and engaging way, using a range of different learning experiences that fit well with busy healthcare environments.
LWPs allow you to create personalised workflows for preceptees to complete during the working day; a roadmap to the new behaviours and skills they need to adopt to succeed. Using an LWP adds value to your employer brand, fosters a workplace culture of continuous development, and makes tangible improvements to the future of your care delivery. With a platform like People Alchemy, you can future-proof your healthcare training, and safeguard the efficacy of your patient care.
Read Paul Matthews’ discussion of the journey analogy for learning and development here >
Top healthcare learning platform for preceptorships
People Alchemy is a Learning Workflow Platform designed to support and modernise the delivery of healthcare training. Use it to create step-by-step tasks and activities to truly embed new behaviours, encourage regular feedback between mentors and mentees, and track highly relevant data to enhance your programme. This isn’t just about content and compliance. It’s about continuous development for your staff members, and safe travels on the journey to better care, successful careers and an innovative, digitised NHS.
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