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Part three: The AHP Preceptorship Standards and Framework

Development of the Standards and Framework.

The benefits and impacts of AHP Preceptorship may be influenced by a range of external factors. These elements include differences in the training and education of AHPs, as well as organisation and allocation of work. There is evidence for multi-professional preceptorship but there are also key differences between professions such as nursing, midwifery and AHPs. This means that the evidence of effectiveness in one context cannot be simply transferred to another.

Consequently, at the core of the AHP Preceptorship Standards and Framework is a review of the evidence of ‘what works for AHPs’. This was developed from a realist synthesis of the scientific and professional literature, and the views of stakeholders.

The research was used to collaborate and co-design the development of the five Principles for Preceptorship by the HCPC to support the professions it regulates. On publication of this research, it will be accessible from the AHP Preceptorship Toolkit.

The HCPC Principles for Preceptorship

The key elements of the five principles are:   

  1. Organisational culture
  2. Quality and oversight
  3. Preceptee empowerment
  4. Preceptor role
  5. Delivering preceptorship programmes

AHPs engaged in preceptorship programmes are referred to as ‘preceptees’, and those supporting preceptees are referred to as ‘preceptors’.

The development of the principles utilised commissioned research and widespread stakeholder engagement:

  • With regulatory and professional bodies.
  • Across the NHS including acute, community and primary care settings.
  • With social care, private and independent practitioners.
  • With regional and system communities of practice.
  • With preceptorship leads, preceptees and preceptors.
  • With nursing and midwifery national preceptorship programme.

Please note that although osteopaths are regulated by the General Osteopathic Council, the exploratory research and work to develop this guidance was inclusive of all AHPs, including osteopaths, and is therefore applicable to all AHPs. Although produced to support NHS settings in England, the content is also applicable and transferable across all sectors.

The AHP Preceptorship Standards and Framework, should be used in conjunction with the HCPC Principles for Preceptorship, to provide best practice guidance on the application of these principles for AHPs*.

*It should be noted that the HCPC guidance is UK wide and the categorisation of AHPs in the devolved administrations differs to that within England

AHP Preceptorship Standards and Framework

The information sets out what AHP Preceptorship means and expands on the HCPC Principles for Preceptorship, to provide standards and a best practice implementation framework to support AHPs in England.

The underpinning evidence base for the AHP Preceptorship Standards and Framework is awaiting publication. On publication the research will be accessible from the AHP Preceptorship Toolkit.

This research was augmented by leadership interviews across professional bodies, and wider engagement through a series of online webinars. This ensured validity and reliability of the findings.

To address gaps in the evidence, several high-performing AHP Preceptorship programmes were reviewed, and consensus-development work conducted. This involved a committee of experts and online surveys with the AHP workforce.

This work produced best practice statements which were tested with AHPs. This was completed through webinars with AHPs experiencing different career transitions, such as returning to work after an extended period of leave, joining the NHS workforce from abroad, or moving into new roles and settings. Interviews with AHPs in system leadership roles enabled the integration of their insights into the implementation of AHP Preceptorship.


The evidence base for AHP Preceptorship

The evidence review identified that:

  • The outcomes of AHP Preceptorship are achieved at an individual, organisational, and at system level.
  • AHP Preceptorship works best when built on the individual knowledge and experiences of individual AHPs, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach to their design and delivery.
  • In organisations where there are higher numbers and a greater mix of AHPs and supported by strong collaboration with other professional groups such as nursing, more elements of AHP Preceptorship can be multi-professional. This provides better opportunities for learning about multi-professional aspects of practice and how organisations work.
  • AHP Preceptorship helps AHPs who are entering the workforce for the first time as new registrants, Return to Practice AHPs or as international recruits, develop their sense of professional identity.
  • Where AHPs have limited access to same-profession preceptorship, professional networks, and guidance from professional bodies, can facilitate professional identity. For example, in industry, independent practice or smaller healthcare organisations.
  • Systems and employers working together can ensure there is an appropriate mix of multi- and uni-professional preceptorship for AHPs.
  • Ensuring that AHP Preceptorship is well-designed and fully integrated into workforce and organisational systems demonstrates employers’ commitment to their AHP workforce.
  • Preceptorship embedded within a wider organisational culture of professional development, can provide a foundation for AHP career development.

How to use the Standards and Framework

The standards and the framework provide a rich source of information and advice for organisations and systems that are working to ensure their AHPs have access to high-quality preceptorship.

The AHP Preceptorship Standards and Framework are not intended to replace existing programmes of preceptorship but instead provide guidance for improvement and enhancement of the quality and sustainability of AHP preceptorship programmes.

It also assists preceptees, preceptors, and all organisations or systems where AHPs work, to consider how AHPs develop and maintain confidence as they transition into and across the workforce.

Organisations can use this resource to develop an effective, flexible, and bespoke strategy for providing preceptorship that best fits the needs of their AHP workforce.

We have expanded the five HCPC Principles for Preceptorship to provide twenty standards of AHP Preceptorship. These standards can be used to evaluate the preceptorship offering.

The framework then provides the best practice guidance of how to achieve high-quality preceptorship using a quality improvement model of continuous improvement. The framework derives from the evidence and consensus work with experts, and triangulated with stakeholder interviews, webinar or case study information. This research, which is awaiting publication, provides a robust evidence-based approach to AHP Preceptorship.

These standards and framework support AHP Preceptorship by providing:

  1. Standardisation and guidance for continuous improvement
  2. Core components for inclusion within AHP Preceptorship programmes.
  3. A blueprint of activities that an organisation, or network of organisations working together, can use to implement AHP Preceptorship.
  4. A tool to develop collaboration and a whole-system approach to AHP Preceptorship.


AHP Preceptorship Standards

HCPC Principles for Preceptorship

Principle 1 - Organisational culture and preceptorship

Preceptorship is a structured programme of professional support and development designed to improve registrant confidence as they transition into any new role.

Preceptorship contributes to an organisational culture in which registrants are supported to achieve their potential whilst delivering safe and effective care and treatment



Principle 2 - Quality & oversight of preceptorship

Preceptorship is an important investment in a registrants’ professional career.

All registrants should have access to a quality preceptorship programme. It demonstrates the value of individual registrants’ health, wellbeing and confidence during times of transition.







Principle 3 - Preceptee empowerment

Preceptorship should be tailored to the individual preceptee, their role and their work environment. Preceptorship should not retest clinical competence but instead, empower the preceptee to reflect on what they bring to their role and identify support needed to develop their professional confidence.





Principle 4 - Preceptor role

The preceptor role is a fundamental part of effective preceptorship. Preceptors should have appropriate training, time and support to understand and perform their role. Preceptors do not need to be from the same profession as preceptees but should be the most appropriate individual to provide support.




Principle 5 - Delivering preceptorship programmes

Preceptorship programmes should reflect the differences in routes to registration, range and intensity of previous practice experiences, and the variety of services and settings in which registrants work. These principles apply to all registrants working in any health or social care setting across the UK, including but not limited to, the NHS, the social care sector, and the independent and charitable sectors.

AHP Preceptorship Standards

1.1 The organisation has a policy and governance framework for AHP Preceptorship.

1.2 The organisation has role descriptors for preceptees, preceptors, preceptorship champions and AHP Preceptorship Leads.

1.3 The organisation has processes for offering preceptorship to eligible staff, and for staff to request preceptorship.



2.1 Preceptorship is inclusive of all AHPs within an organisation and supports different career and workplace transitions.

2.2 The organisation has clear leadership and accountability for AHP Preceptorship.

2.3 The organisation evaluates the impact of the preceptorship programme annually.

2.4 The organisation uses evaluation data as the basis for improving AHP preceptorship with the AHP workforce.

2.5 The organisation ensures preceptees have access to uni-professional support if there is a multi-professional preceptorship programme.



3.1 The preceptee and preceptor agree how they will implement the individual preceptorship programme and document how they will work together.

3.2 Preceptorship programmes include opportunities for preceptees to guide, review and evaluate their preceptorship.

3.3 The organisation offers preceptorship for a suggested 12-month period.

3.4 The organisation provides protected time for the preceptee to attend preceptorship activities.



4.1 The organisation provides initial and ongoing training and development for preceptors.

4.2 The organisation provides protected time for the preceptors to attend preceptorship activities.





5.1 Organisations establish the content for programmes based on the knowledge, skills and behaviours required for AHP Preceptorship.

5.2 The organisation can demonstrate the tailoring of preceptorship to meet the needs of their AHPs.

5.3 The initial preceptorship meeting occurs within the first week of the preceptee’s transition.

5.4 Meetings between preceptor and preceptee are scheduled once per month as a minimum

5.5 Meetings between preceptor and preceptee are of a minimum of one hour in duration.

5.6 The organisation provides a template to guide and record AHP Preceptorship meetings.


See graphic depicting the HCPC Principles of Preceptorship and AHP Preceptorship Standards