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What is supervision?

If ‘vision’ implies seeing, the word ‘supervision’ can be read as over-seeing, looking over someone’s shoulder to check on them; and also ‘super’ in the sense of outstanding or special, helping someone to extend their professional skills and understanding. Both of these aspects will be relevant to varying degrees in supervision, depending on the context. It can be helpful to think about supervision both in terms of development (which is related to ongoing professional learning) and performance (which is related to clinical governance and standard setting).

Domains of supervision

Thinking points

  • With reference to the diagram above, think about some different contexts in which  supervision can occur, e.g. peer supervision, teaching and training, multidisciplinary team meetings,  remedial supervision.
  • In which part of the diagram do these supervisory conversations take place?
  • Although many aspects of supervision are common across all contexts, in the clinical setting it is useful to tease out some of the specific aspects; not least because of an emerging distinction being made in medical education between the two closely related and overlapping activities of clinical and educational supervision.


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