Academy of Medical Educators


May - August 2009

Evidence on education and training for medical educational supervisors in secondary care

Research Summary

The research project was funded by the Academy of Medical Education.  The aim of the project was to undertake two specific evidence gathering and interpretation activities in support of a broader programme of work on developing standards for education advisors in secondary care.  The data collection and primary research analysis carried out by SSRU research team informed the development of proposal for a new UK national framework for training and accreditation of medical education supervisors.


The research questions were explored by using the following research methods
1)      Limited search scoping review:  the purpose of the review was to explore a selection of the research, theory, policy and practice on education and training for medical supervisors in secondary care.
2)      Postal/ On-line questionnaire and follow-up telephone interviews for non response/ clarification: the main aim was elicit information from postgraduate deans and education leads in deaneries and Royal Colleges on training currently being offered to educational supervisors through their organizations.
3)      Focus group interviews: the main purpose of the focus group was to find out from educational supervisors about their perceptions of the purpose of supervision, of supervisory roles and responsibilities, issues and problems in undertaking their role and what would help them to undertake their role successfully.

Research Findings

The report identifies an international trend across all healthcare sectors towards formalising the role and training of work-based educators.  In UK postgraduate medical education, the differing perceptions of the role and responsibilities of the educational supervisor across disciplines alongside a lack of consensus on responsibility for data collection and monitoring make it difficult to accurately quantify the scale of the issue.  There is also considerable overlap with the role of clinical supervisor on the ground.  Considerable effort is already underway in defining and delivering training for supervisors in order to meet regulatory requirements and although there is some tacit consensus as to what this should entail, there is little formal guidance or indeed evidence to support the effectiveness of such training.   A number of barriers and facilitations factors are identified in relation to the introduction of training, accreditation and performance review which focus on a need for identified resources, and the recognition and reward of educational supervisors.