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Definitions

The precise roles of supervisors vary from site to site and specialty to specialty. But as educational activities, clinical and educational supervision are quite distinct (Kilminster et al. 2007, Launer 2010). Here they are considered alongside the current definitions proposed by the GMC (GMC 2012).

Clinical supervision relates to day-to-day oversight of trainees in the workplace and is an activity that involves all clinicians who come into contact with trainees. Clinical supervision involves being available, looking over the shoulder of the trainee, teaching on the job with developmental conversations, regular feedback and the provision of a rapid response to issues as they arise. All trainees should have access to supervision at all times, with the degree of supervision tailored to their competence, confidence and experience. Within a given training placement, and for each trainee, such arrangements may be the responsibility of a nominated ‘clinical supervisor’.

GMC (2012) defines a named clinical supervisor as ‘…a trainer who is responsible for overseeing a specified trainee’s clinical work for a placement in a clinical environment and is appropriately trained to do so. He or she will provide constructive feedback during that placement, and inform the decision about whether the trainee should progress to the next stage of their training at the end of that placement and/or series of placements’.

Some training schemes appoint an educational supervisor for each placement. The roles
of clinical and educational supervisor may then be merged.

Educational supervision relates to the oversight of a trainee’s progress over time. Educational supervisors are responsible for ensuring that trainees are making the necessary clinical and educational progress. Educational supervisors will need all the skills of clinical supervision, plus an appreciation of supporting educational theory, the ability to undertake appraisal, work with portfolios and provide careers advice. Managing the trainee in difficulty will also, inevitably, involve the educational supervisor with support
from Deanery training structures.

GMC (2012) defines a named educational supervisor as ‘a trainer who is selected and appropriately trained to be responsible for the overall supervision and management of a trainee’s trajectory of learning and educational progress during a placement and/or series of placements. Every trainee must have a named educational supervisor. The educational supervisor’s role is to help the trainee to plan their training and achieve agreed learning outcomes. He or she is responsible for the educational agreement and for bringing together all relevant evidence to form a summative judgement at the end of the placement and/or series of placements.’

Note that in both instances the GMC requires the supervisor to be ‘selected and appropriately trained’.

Supervisors (and Trusts) should be clear about which of these activities they are engaged in and communicate this clearly to trainees for whom they are responsible.

It is expected that both named educational and named clinical supervisors to normally hold consultant status within the Trust, although it may be appropriate at certain stages of training (e.g. during Foundation) for staff and associate specialists and other non-consultant career grades to act in a supervisory capacity