Globally, clinical supervision has been widely adopted and studied. But in the UK, another variant of supervision has developed in the form of educational supervision. The quality of supervision remains highly variable and inadequate time, investment and guidance hinders its ability to actually benefit trainees. Therefore, undertaking a detailed study of the patterns and practices in educational supervision to inform developments in supervisory practice would be extremely beneficial.
In this mixed methods study, educational supervisors and trainees working within a large London Trust were surveyed online about their experiences of educational supervision. In addition, observations of supervision sessions with a small group of supervisor and trainee pairs followed-up by semi-structured interviews were conducted. The quantitative data were analyzed using statistical software via descriptive statistics. The qualitative data underwent thematic framework analysis.
Both the qualitative and quantitative data revealed that whilst most junior doctors and supervisors value the ideal of educational supervision as a process for engaging in mentoring dialogues, it can become a tick box exercise, devaluing its usefulness and purpose. Trainees highlighted the need for more frequent formal meeting along with better preparation by supervisors. Supervisors would appreciate more support from trusts to help them enhance supervision for trainees.
The effectiveness of educational supervision can be improved with trainees and supervisors engaging in meaningful preparation and proactive communication before meetings. During these formal meetings, improving the quality of feedback and ensuring that regular mentoring dialogues occurred would be highly valuable.