Supporting Student Supervisors
Clinical education is a fundamental part of training allied health students to transition to competent, practising clinicians. Student supervisors must be supported in this role to ensure a positive placement outcome for students as well as the ability to continue to provide placements. There are a number of ways to support student supervisors.
Provide training on supervision skills
The ‘Enhancing Clinical Supervision Skills’ project (2013) surveyed 139 allied health clinicians involved in clinical education. The majority of respondents identified workshops as the most useful supervision training. Each University offers Clinical Educator Workshops for new and experienced student supervisors. Please contact your University Placement Coordinator for details of their upcoming workshops. Working in a rural or remote location may make attending these workshops difficult. The JCU Workplace Educators Resource Package has excellent online resources. James Cook University also run webinars on supervision topics.
Provide support to clinical supervisors during the placement
Student supervisors need support during a placement, particularly when difficult situations arise. If difficulties arise during a clinical placement, it is important to contact the Clinical Education Coordinator at the University. The Clinical Education Coordinator will be able to listen to your concerns, advise you of any process that may need to be initiated and work directly with the student to support the learning process. It is always better to contact the University Clinical Coordinator early to flag any potential difficulties.
The National Strategic Framework for Rural and Remote Health promotes a national approach to policy, planning, design and delivery of health services in rural and remote communities
Access to mentoring or peer support in a rural and remote setting
Link up with other clinicians who are supervising students. The University Clinical Education Coordinator will be able to put you in touch with other student supervisors. It can be helpful to discuss ideas about clinical education, management of outreach services, supervision and placement models. Another option is to network through your professional association to find colleagues who are interested in mentoring, student education and sharing ideas.
- The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) provides a National Group for Educators that offer benefits and professional development programs developed for clinicians, and it will shortly provide a 'Rural Network' group to additionally support practitioners in rural and remote locations.
- Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA) has a rural and remote special interest group. For more information or to join, call the national office on (07) 3862 4122.
- Occupational Therapy Australia has a rural and remote regional interest group. If you are interested in finding out more about this group or joining, please email email@example.com.
- Speech Pathology Australia has Member Communities where like-minded speech pathologists can share information and receive support from peers. There is a Rural and Remote Member Community and Speech Pathologists in Education and Learning (SPEL) closed Facebook group that people can request to join.
Provide information about the university curriculum
Contact the university and ask for this information if it has not been supplied. Information about the course curriculum can help you understand the student’s knowledge base and the learning expectations of the placement. The information enables you to schedule clinical learning experiences that match when the student is exposed to the theoretical knowledge.
Access to online journals
Many Universities offer access to online journals when you supervise a student. It is an excellent opportunity to update your knowledge and resources. Consider having a journal club while you have a student on placement.
Backfill or reduced workload
Supervising a student requires dedicated time. There needs to be time for supervision, to explain and facilitate learning and provide feedback. It is not realistic to maintain the same level of service to clients. Deciding to take a student will require workforce planning. It may mean seeing less clients and this is something that must be addressed at the service planning level.