Guiding Clinical Practice Development

As an expert practitioner you will have developed a high level of automation in what you – you do it without thinking about why and how. One of the important roles you have as a supervisor is to guide improvements in competence and confidence of the student. To do this effectively requires you to understand where the student is currently at and unpack how you know what you know to be able to help them learn. Having a discussion with the student at the commencement of the placement will assist in determining how confident they are, what skills they have currently developed and which skills they would like to develop or consolidate in this placement.

Remember that everyone has a preferred learning style but workplace experiences essentially follow a standard learning process. One which you can help facilitate.


There are a number of strategies you may then wish to use to guide their clinical practice development such as:

  • Open ended questions for eg:
    • How would you approach doing ‘x’ procedure?
    • Explain to me how you might assess a client presenting with ‘y’?
    • What do you see as the risks of this approach and how would you minimise those risks?
    • What are the options for this patient / client? Which would you recommend and why?
    • What are your observations regarding this patient / client?
    • Which protocol / clinical guideline is appropriate to follow for this client? Why?
    • What did you notice was the steps / thinking / reasoning I used in that encounter?
    • Demonstrating a skill and then observing them
    • Encouraging them to perform competencies under supervision
    • Using scenarios to test their thinking and decision making skills
    • Using reflective questioning to help them review and learn from their experiences:
      • What happened / occurred?
      • What did you do well?
      • What caused you most angst? Why?
      • Why do you think that happened?
      • What did you consider before making that decision?
      • What were some of your other options?
      • Was what occurred directly related to your interventions?
      • How did you assess the outcome of your intervention?
      • What would you do differently next time?

What would help you prepare for a similar situation?