Educational supervision has been defined as ‘The provision of guidance and feedback on matters of personal, professional and educational development in the context of a trainee’s experience of providing safe and appropriate patient care’ (Kilminster et al., 2007, p. 2). All doctors are now required to have educational supervision across their whole training period, from qualification to specialist certification (Department of Health, 2007).
Educational supervision involves the teaching of specific skills and competencies, helping the learner to develop self-sufficiency in the ongoing acquirement of skills and knowledge. Educational supervision sometimes includes an element of assessment and may require the provision of pastoral care for some students or trainees. It is important that the educational supervisor flags up any concerns at an early stage (see also the Managing Poor Performance module).
Mentoring, coaching and appraisal
Mentoring, coaching and appraisal can all be viewed as specific examples of supervision in the sense that they all involve some of the similar interpersonal skills required in one-to-one conversations. The Appraisal e-learning module focuses specifically on appraisal in the educational setting.
Mentoring is guidance and support offered by a more experienced colleague. There is also co-mentoring, where colleagues meet to offer mutual support and help to each other. This might include such activities as ‘action learning sets’.
Coaching is a form of supervision aimed at unlocking someone’s potential to maximise their performance (Whitmore, 1996), whereas appraisal can be described as a process aimed at developing a person’s professional performance, potential and ideas about career development (Peyton, 2000). Skills for carrying out appraisal are closely related to those for supervision.
What is supervision for?
Supervision can be used to address many aspects of work in medical and healthcare education. In the day-to-day clinical context, educational supervision necessarily includes some aspects of clinical supervision because issues discussed by the educational supervisor and trainee/student often include aspects relating to clinical practice. Although educational supervision may cover some of the technical aspects of the work, clinical supervision is the place where a wider range of issues around specific patients or dilemmas tend to be raised and addressed.
Most supervision addresses three domains: cases contexts (such as workplace teams or professional networks) careers. The role of the educational supervisor is clearer in some of these domains than others. Supervision conversations should aim to move back and forth between these three domains.
As you read the next section think of