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Evidence suggests that physicians have difficulty in assessing their own abilities. Educational supervision is a formal process to address this problem and provides an overview of an individual trainee's professional medical education and training. It encompasses a range of activities aimed at providing guidance and feedback to trainees from a more experienced trainer. It is underpinned by several key educational principles reflected in the adult learning literature, including active listening, mentoring, creation of a supportive learning environment, constructive feedback, reflective practice and developing insightful or self-aware practice in the trainee.
Out in the workplace, there is evidence to suggest that the quality of educational supervision in the UK is very variable.1,–,5 To quality assure the process of supervision in the UK, the Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board have stated that all supervisors need to be trained in specific educational supervision skills.6 Others have taken a stronger line in suggesting that not all consultants should be educational supervisors and that this role should be left to those with the qualifications, enthusiasm and time to do it.7
Whether you are just starting out as a paediatric trainee or are an extremely experienced trainer, it is hoped that this paper will allow you to reflect on some key principles and focus on important practical issues in educational supervision. Alongside review of the best available evidence, many of the ideas suggested were generated from discussions during 24 small group workshops involving >90 paediatric consultants and specialist registrars with particular experience and interest in medical education.8
The provision of guidance and feedback on matters of personal, professional and educational development in the context of the trainee's experience of providing safe and appropriate clinical care Kilminster et al (2008)1
High-quality training in any field demands a …
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