Competencies to enable learning-focused clinical supervision: a thematic analysis of the literature

Leeanne Pront*, David Gillham, Lambertus Schuwirth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


ContextClinical supervision is essential for development of health professional students and widely recognised as a significant factor influencing student learning. Although considered important, delivery is often founded on personal experience or a series of predetermined steps that offer standardised behavioural approaches. Such a view may limit the capacity to promote individualised student learning in complex clinical environments. The objective of this review was to develop a comprehensive understanding of what is considered good' clinical supervision, within health student education. The literature provides many perspectives, so collation and interpretation were needed to aid development and understanding for all clinicians required to perform clinical supervision within their daily practice. MethodA comprehensive thematic literature review was carried out, which included a variety of health disciplines and geographical environments. ResultsLiterature addressing good' clinical supervision consists primarily of descriptive qualitative research comprising mostly small studies that repeated descriptions of student and supervisor opinions of good' supervision. Synthesis and thematic analysis of the literature resulted in four competency' domains perceived to inform delivery of learning-focused or good' clinical supervision. Domains understood to promote student learning are co-dependent and include to partner', to nurture', to engage' and to facilitate meaning'. ConclusionsClinical supervision is a complex phenomenon and establishing a comprehensive understanding across health disciplines can influence the future health workforce. The learning-focused clinical supervision domains presented here provide an alternative perspective of clinical supervision of health students. This paper is the first step in establishing a more comprehensive understanding of learning-focused clinical supervision, which may lead to development of competencies for clinical supervision. Discuss ideas arising from the article at discuss.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-495
JournalMedical Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


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