What is a Supervisor?

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Educational Supervisors

The National Association of Clinical Tutors (NACT) has defined the Educational and Clinical Supervisor roles in 'A Guide to the Organisation of Postgraduate Medical Education', compiled by Dr Liz Spencer with input from the Council and members of NACT UK, PMETB, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, COPMeD, NAMEM and the Medical Workforce Forum of NHS Employers.

The following description is taken directly from this guide.

Roles & Responsibilities of an Educational Supervisor

All trainees must have a named educational supervisor and the trainee should be informed of this in writing. The exact model, i.e. by placement, year of training, etc., and expectations will be determined locally and all parties informed in writing.

The Educational Supervisor must be given adequate time to perform their role and approximately 0.25 PA per trainee should be identified in their job plan.

Supporting the trainee:

  • Oversee the education of the trainee, act as their mentor and ensure that trainees are making the necessary clinical and educational progress
  • Meet the trainee in the first week of the programme (or delegate to colleague if absent/on leave), ensure the structure of the programme, the curriculum, portfolio and system of assessment are understood, and establish a supportive relationship. At this first meeting the educational agreement should be discussed with the trainee and the necessary paperwork signed and a copy kept by both parties
  • Ensure that the trainee receives appropriate career guidance and planning
  • Provide the trainee with opportunities to comment on their training and on the support provided, and to discuss any problems they have identified
  • Hold regular review meetings. These are arranged by the trainee, occur in protected time, and in a private environment. They involve reviewing the learning objectives to ensure they have been met, giving feedback, monitoring the delivery of the Educational Agreement, and reviewing the assessments and portfolio evidence of learning. Before this session the educational supervisor will usually have obtained information from colleagues, those involved in clinical supervision and other key professionals with whom the trainee has worked during the placement.
  • At the end of the year the final appraisal session involves reviewing all the assessments and the portfolio of evidence of learning, and ensuring that all the learning objectives of the programme have been satisfied. All the necessary documentation needs to be completed and returned to the Programme Director to enable satisfactory completion of the end-of-year paperwork.

If the trainee’s performance is not reaching the required standard:

  • This should be discussed with the trainee as soon as identified

  • A written record of the meeting to be kept

  • Remedial measures should be put in place as soon as possible with clearly defined written objectives

  • Trainees must have an opportunity to correct any deficiencies identified

  • The appropriate Programme Director must be informed of any significant problem

All Educational Supervisors:

  • Must be approachable, keen to develop the trainee, and understand the importance of the role

  • Must be familiar with the Programme Curriculum, the Learning Portfolio and the Programme design

  • Are responsible for ensuring that relevant information about progress and performance is made available to the appropriate Programme Director and informing them should the performance of any individual trainee give rise for concern

  • Should contribute in relevant areas to the formal education programme

  • Will act as a resource for trainees seeking specialty information and guidance

  • Liaise with the Specialty/Programme tutor and the rest of the department to ensure that all are aware of the learning needs of the trainee.

Clinical Supervisors

For every placement the trainee must have a named Clinical Supervisor and the trainee should be informed in writing of this.

Supporting the trainee - all Clinical Supervisors:

  • Must offer a level of supervision of clinical activity appropriate to the competence and experience of the individual trainee
  • No trainee should be required to assume responsibility for or perform clinical, operative or other techniques in which they have insufficient experience and expertise
  • Trainees should only perform tasks without direct supervision when the supervisor is satisfied regarding their competence so to do
  • Both trainee and supervisor should at all times be aware of their direct responsibilities for the safety of patients in their care.
  • Should be involved with teaching and training the trainee in the workplace and should help with both professional and personal development
  • Support the trainee in various ways:
    • direct supervision, in the operating theatre, the ward or the consulting room

    • close but not direct supervision, eg. in the theatre suite, in the next door room, reviewing cases and process during and/or after a session

    • regular discussions, review of cases and feedback

  • May delegate some clinical supervision to other members of clinical team as long as the team member clearly understands the role and the trainee is informed. The trainee must know who is providing clinical supervision at all times
  • Ensure specialty induction occurs & includes:
    • Introduction to the clinical department - duties of the post, any particular responsibilities, departmental meetings and senior cover

    • The role of the multidisciplinary team that covers out of hours to ensure safe and effective clinical care at night and weekends, cross-specialty induction when cross-cover required, bleep policies, managed hand-over, clear team understanding of individual competencies and safe supervision etc.

  • Must meet the trainee before or within a week of starting the placement, establish a supportive relationship and agree a learning plan, agreeing specific and realistic specialty learning objectives appropriate to the level of the individual trainee
  • Provide regular review during the placement both formally and informally to ensure that the trainee is obtaining the necessary experience, including supervised experience in practical procedures and to give regular constructive feedback on performance.
  • Perform and oversee the work-based assessments
  • Ensure the trainee’s attendance at formal education sessions, completion of audit project and other requirements of Programme

All Clinical Supervisors:

  • Must have prepared themselves adequately for the role, be familiar with the relevant Programme Curriculum and the specialty specific learning objectives.
  • Are responsible for ensuring that relevant information about progress and performance is made available to the educational supervisor, particularly if the performance of any individual trainee gives rise to concern.
  • Must ensure that the appropriate members of the multi-professional team are aware of the learning and assessment needs of the Trainee and are familiar with the relevant paperwork surrounding the workplace assessments
  • Are responsible for creating a learning environment in the workplace to enable positive and constructive feedback to the trainee from the multi-professional team
  • Should have time allocated in their job plan, in SPA time, for this activity.

GP F2 Supervisors

If you have already completed the training required to become a General Practitioner (GP) Trainer for specialty trainees, this is sufficient training to be a GP F2 Supervisor and you do not have to complete the generic clinical supervisor courses, so long as your previous GP Training is within the last 3 years. However, you are very welcome to participate in these additional courses if you would like to do so and you must still be trained in Equality and Diversity.

All GP F2 clinical and educational supervisors are required to have training in equality and diversity that is up-to-date within a 3 year period.

We appreciate that GPs are not required to have this training for their role as independent practitioners but it is part of the mandatory standards that the General Medical Council and the Royal College of General Practitioners set for trainers e.g. from the GMC Standards for curricula and assessment systems, 10.5 “Equality and diversity training will be a core component of any assessor/examiner training programme”; from the RCGP’s Standards for GP Specialty Training: Guidance to Deaneries, 3.5 "In accordance with the requirements of the Gold Guide, educational and clinical supervisors must receive regular training in equality, diversity and human rights best practice.”; and, from the UK Foundation Programme Reference Guide. 6.4 “All foundation faculty must have specific training and be appraised for their role. The exact training required will depend on the role; however all must be trained in equality and diversity.”

We are not prescriptive about the specific training that you receive in this area and, if you have attended training provided from any appropriate body, then we are happy to accept details of this. However, if you are looking for a training resource, there are online equality and diversity training packages on this website.