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'Hands on, Hands off': a model of clinical supervision that recognises trainees' need for support and independence

'Hands on, Hands off': a model of clinical supervision that recognises trainees' need for support and independence

Australian Health Review 34(3): 286-291

This article presents a study of junior doctor supervision at a rural hospital. The objective of the present study was to gain insight into the types of supervision events experienced, the quality of supervisory relationships, the frequencies of supervision contact in a rural hospital setting, and the implications of these factors for supervision practice. A cohort of junior doctors was asked to provide in-depth information about their interactions with their supervisors and other relevant clinical colleagues. The information was filled in on diary sheets to capture the nature, focus and quality of the cohort's supervision experiences over 2 weeks. The information also covered frequency and types of supervisory contacts. The quantitative data reveals that supervisory events occur predominantly as part of ongoing patient care and rarely off-line as part of targeted supervisory practice. The qualitative data analysis reveals that junior doctors value supervisory support of two kinds: assistance from more senior clinicians who are expert in areas where trainees need help, and trust to act independently, without being abandoned. Supervision must be both structured and dynamic. Besides providing a regular forum for discussion and reflection, supervision must accommodate the variable needs of individual junior doctors and navigate between being hands-on and hands-off. Such dynamic approach is necessary to reassure junior doctors they are in a 'zone of safe learning' where they can act with adequate and flexible support and negotiate changes in supervisory attention.

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Accession: 051013685

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PMID: 20797359

DOI: 10.1071/ah09773

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