Supervisory knowing in practice across medical specialities

Christy Noble*, Joanne Hilder, Stephen Billett, Andrew Teodorczuk, Rola Ajjawi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Clinical supervisors play key roles in facilitating trainee learning. Yet combining that role with patient care complicates both roles. So, we need to know how both roles can effectively co-occur. When facilitating their trainees’ learning through practice, supervisors draw on their skills - clinical and supervisory - and available opportunities in their practice. This process can be conceptualised as supervisory knowing in practice (or contextual knowing) and offers ways to elaborate on how facilitating trainees’ learning can be optimised. The practice-based study presented and discussed here examined clinical supervisors’ knowing in practice related to facilitating trainee learning, across three medical specialities. Nineteen clinical supervisors from emergency medicine, internal medicine and surgery, were interviewed about their roles and engagement with trainees. Interview transcripts were analysed in two stages. Firstly, a framework analysis, informed by interdependent learning theory was conducted, focussing on affordances and individual engagement. Secondly, drawing on practice theory, a further layer of analysis was undertaken interrogating supervisors’ knowing in practice. We identified two common domains of supervisor practice used to facilitate trainee learning: (1) orientating and assessing trainees’ readiness (or capabilities), (2) sequencing and enriching pedagogic practices. Yet across the speciality groups the supervisors’ knowing in practice differed and were shaped by a trio of: (i) disciplinary practices, (ii) situational requirements and (iii) clinician preference. Overall, we offer a new reading of clinical supervision as practice differences generated distinct supervisory knowing in practice. These findings emphasise clinical supervision as fundamentally entwined in the speciality’s practice; and reinforce alignments with patient care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-128
Number of pages22
JournalAdvances in Health Sciences Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024
Externally publishedYes


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