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The Transformative Power of Preceptorship

Credit: Photographed by Carva

In the fast-paced and ever-evolving world of healthcare and the sciences, the importance of fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce cannot be overstated. And it’s not just a matter of equity and social responsibility – it is a strategic imperative. One highly effective tool for advancing equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in these fields is preceptorship. 

Often referred to as mentorship or coaching, preceptorship is a structured process where experienced individuals guide and support less experienced individuals, providing attention to their learning needs as well as feedback regarding performance. To maximize impact, organizations should invest in structured preceptorship programs that intentionally promote EDI and provide opportunities for individuals from all backgrounds. 

Here, we explore the transformative power of preceptorship in healthcare and the sciences across eight key areas.

1. Knowledge transfer: bridging the gap

In healthcare and the sciences, knowledge is the lifeblood of progress. Preceptorship plays a pivotal role in transferring knowledge from experienced professionals to less experienced counterparts. This transfer of expertise is essential in reducing knowledge gaps and ensuring that individuals from diverse backgrounds have equitable access to the wealth of insights and skills that can drive innovation.

2. Diverse perspectives: fostering innovation

Diversity in thought and experience leads to innovative solutions. Preceptorship brings together individuals from different backgrounds, encouraging a broader range of viewpoints and approaches to problem-solving. In healthcare, where patients come from diverse backgrounds, this diversity of thought can lead to more patient-centric care and research.

3. Inclusive culture: a bedrock for progress

A diverse and inclusive culture is essential for progress in healthcare and the sciences. Preceptorship contributes to this culture by actively supporting and mentoring individuals from underrepresented groups. When experienced professionals advocate for the development of these individuals, it sends a clear message that diversity is valued. This, in turn, helps create an environment where everyone feels included and can thrive.

4. Career advancement: breaking down barriers

For individuals from underrepresented backgrounds, preceptorship can be a game-changer in career advancement. Having a mentor who provides guidance and advocates for their development can help break down barriers to progression that may exist due to bias or discrimination. It empowers mentees to take on leadership roles and pursue challenging career opportunities.

5. Retention and engagement: building a strong workforce

Preceptorship enhances employee retention and engagement. Those with access to mentoring relationships are often more satisfied with their careers; therefore, they are also more likely to stay with their organizations, preventing the “leaky pipeline” phenomenon, where underrepresented individuals leave the workforce at higher rates.

6. Leadership development: nurturing future leaders

Organizations that invest in preceptorship programs can identify and nurture future leaders from all backgrounds, helping ensure that decision-making bodies are representative of the populations they serve.

7. Accountability: measuring progress

Preceptorship programs hold organizations accountable for their commitment to EDI. By tracking the progress and success of mentees from underrepresented groups, organizations can measure the effectiveness of their diversity initiatives and make necessary adjustments.

8. Community building: a supportive network

Preceptorship fosters a sense of community within organizations. When individuals from diverse backgrounds form mentoring relationships, it creates a support network that extends beyond the mentor–mentee relationship. This network can provide additional resources and opportunities for career growth.

In short, preceptorship is a powerful force for advancing EDI in healthcare and the sciences. To fully leverage the potential of preceptorship in healthcare, institutions should allocate resources towards structured programs that deliberately nurture EDI – and guarantee that mentorship and guidance are accessible to individuals from diverse backgrounds. By taking these steps, healthcare organizations will be paving a path toward a fairer and more inclusive future.

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About the Author
Bamidele Farinre

Pathology Quality Manager/Governance Lead (Chartered Scientist), NHS, UK


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