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Clinical supervision: what does it mean to you?

The recent online survey by Nursing in Practice of over 1,477 nurses found that 60% of community nurses do not undertake regular clinical supervision. This is interesting and disturbing in view of the fact that the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) supports the implementation of clinical supervision as an important aspect of clinical governance to support clinicians in achieving high-quality standards of care. In the current climate of immense change, increasing targets, pressures and limited resources it could be argued that it has never been more important to provide clinical supervision for frontline staff.

Clinical supervision provides a safe environment for clinicians to actively engage with each other to reflect on their clinical practice and improve standards of care. It allows them to think proactively and find solutions to problems, eg, dealing with difficult situations or conflict. Many of the professional issues we face can be challenging and overwhelming, but being able to discuss these with peers can only enhance practice and individuals understanding of these to ultimately benefit practice in the wider context. The process of supervision facilitates the individual to develop knowledge and competence, and link theory and research to practice.

Time and resources are essential requirements if clinical supervision is to be implemented and it may be that this has had an impact on the progress of clinical supervision in recent years. It is essential that supervisors are adequately trained to undertake this role including receiving regular updates.

There are numerous models in existence which means that organisations can choose the approach which best suit their staff and their circumstances. Clinical supervision is not mandatory and should not be managerially led if it is to be successful.

As nurses undertake new roles and responsibilities it is essential that support is available and clinical supervision is one of the many ways that this can be achieved. There are benefits to the individual in feeling valued, encouraging reflective practice and it helps practitioners to become more confident in the decision-making process.

The organisation also benefits from supporting clinical supervision for its staff. Essentially it improves patient care; it encourages dissemination of good practice and shared learning. It encourages motivation, innovation and job satisfaction, which in turn have an impact on staff turnover. How can it be ignored?

If like us you have a robust clinical supervision framework in place, then why not write to Nursing in Practice and tell us how you did it, or have you tried to implement clinical supervision but not been successful? What were the difficulties or the barriers that you need to overcome? Lets hear from the 40% of you who are having regular clinical supervision and what it means to you.

Next time you have your annual appraisal and personal development review ask your manager how and where you can access clinical supervision to support your continuing professional development. Good luck!


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