Starting out in a first role as a brand new dietitian can be exciting and daunting at the same time. During the first year of dietetic practice, confidence, competence and resilience grows enormously, and experiences during this time can impact on the future career of a dietitian. We believe that shaping that first year as a dietitian in a way that is supportive and nurturing is essential, and we are proud to introduce our BDA Preceptorship Programme.

The implementation of preceptorship programmes across NHS dietetic departments and the wider profession is inconsistent. The BDA Preceptorship Programme is not intended to replace any existing programme led by an employer. It is there to complement existing programmes, with a strong emphasis on dietetic practice and the four pillars of development. Our programme is particularly useful if there is no preceptorship programme in the workplace.

Structure of the Programme

The BDA Preceptorship Programme is built on our Post-registration Development Framework.

Four Pillars of Practice

  • Practice
  • Evidence-based Practice & Research
  • Facilitating Learning
  • Leadership

Four Levels of Development

  • Entry Level
  • Enhanced
  • Advanced
  • Consultant

The Preceptorship Programme aims to build newly qualified dietitians up to be practising at Entry Level across all four pillars by the end of year one as a dietitian. There are competencies outlined within each pillar of practice at Entry Level, and these act as a guide to support a breadth of development. The programme supplies tools and resources for portfolio development to demonstrate how each competency has been achieved.

The Preceptorship Programme provides a guide and structure to professional development. It is not a means for assessment or management. Preceptorship should be implemented in a supportive and nurturing way to develop a dietitian’s skill and confidence. There are guides available for both preceptor and preceptee to understand expectations of the programme, and how this is to be implemented.

Benefits to the newly qualified dietitian

The BDA Preceptorship Programme offers the tools and resources for newly qualified dietitians to use to develop their knowledge and skills gained in undergraduate training. The programme aims to enable a newly qualified dietitians to establish a healthy relationship with continuous professional development from the outset of their career. And it offers the opportunity for dietitians to celebrate their achievements in their first year of practice, and reflect on how they would like to develop further. Ultimately the Preceptorship Programme improves access to a personalised development programme to develop role and profession related competencies.

Benefits to the preceptor

Acting as a preceptor is very similar to being a practice-based learning educator (student supervisor). The preceptorship programme is not an assessment, though it would require the same skill set to include coaching and mentoring skills. Being a preceptor is a great opportunity to develop your skills in facilitating learning for you to advance your practice in this pillar. It looks great on your CV, as such skills are essential for career progression. Developing these skills is useful preparation for any management responsibilities you may take on. Working with newly qualified dietitians and supporting them to reach their potential can be extremely rewarding, and can make your career as a dietitian even more satisfying.

Benefits to the employer

It is recognised that preceptorship programmes play a key role in staff development and retention. Such programmes promote and encourage an open, honest and transparent culture within the workforce, and supports the delivery of high-quality efficient work and healthcare. The Preceptorship Programme offers the opportunity for practice supervision, and development of resilience strategies to enhance staff wellbeing. In turn this can have a beneficial impact on rates of sickness and absence. Adopting the BDA Preceptorship Programme provides the opportunity to embed a quality assurance process within your service, and enables a healthy culture of professional development. A preceptorship programme can also be an attractive element to a role for prospective employees. Therefore making such an opportunity available may support the recruitment of newly qualified dietitians.

Introducing the BDA Preceptorship Programme to your workplace

Here are some helpful tips if you are considering implementing this programme for newly qualified dietitians:

  • Take a look at BDA Preceptorship Programme
  • Discuss the programme with your workplace
  • Offer to be or identify dietitians to be preceptors
  • Offer to use the programme to support newly qualified dietitians in their first role

This is a brand new addition to the resources we offer you. We would appreciate any feedback on implementation. Please provide your feedback to

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Chloe Adams

Policy Officer for Professional Practice, British Dietetic Association