Measuring and assessing the competencies of preceptors in health professions: a systematic scoping review

BMC Med Educ. 2020 May 24;20(1):165. doi: 10.1186/s12909-020-02082-9.


Background: In healthcare, preceptors act as a role model and supervisor, thereby facilitating the socialisation and development of the preceptee into a professional fit to practice. To ensure a consistent approach to every preceptorship experience, preceptor competencies should be measured or assessed to ensure that the desired outcomes are achieved. Defining these would ensure quality management and could inform development of an preceptor competency framework. This review aimed to evaluate the evidence for preceptor competencies and assessment in health professions.

Methods: This study followed the PRISMA ScR scoping review guidelines. A database search was conducted in Embase, Medline, CINAHL and IPA in 2019. Articles were included if they defined criteria for competency, measured or assessed competency, or described performance indicators of preceptors. A modified GRADE CERQual approach and CASP quality assessment were used to appraise identified competencies, performance indicators and confidence in evidence.

Results: Forty one studies identified 17 evidence-based competencies, of which 11 had an associated performance indicator. The competency of preceptors was most commonly measured using a preceptee completed survey (moderate to high confidence as per CERQual), followed by preceptor self-assessment, and peer-assessment. Preceptee outcomes as a measure of preceptor performance had good but limited evidence.

Conclusions: Competencies with defined performance indicators allow for effective measurement and may be modifiable with training. To measure preceptor competency, the preceptor perspective, as well as peer and preceptee assessment is recommended. These findings can provide the basis for a common preceptor competency framework in health professions.

Keywords: Assessment; Competency; Preceptor; Preceptorship.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Occupations / standards*
  • Humans
  • Preceptorship / standards*
  • Professional Competence / standards*