African Journal of Health Professions Education

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Improving undergraduate clinical supervision in a South African context

E Archer


Objectives: The Faculty of Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, has undergraduate programmes for several disciplines; these programmes need clinical supervisors to teach their students in the clinical settings. The faculty does not have the resources to present different clinical supervisioncourses for each discipline; therefore a short course with an interprofessional focus was designed.
Design: A qualitative study was done to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the course in order to re-curriculate as deemed necessary. Semi-structured individual interviews were held with 10 (n=18) course participants as well as the tutors involved in the development of the course. Ethical approval was obtained. Participation was voluntary and anonymity was guaranteed. The recorded and transcribed data were analysed.
Setting: The health professionals acting as supervisors may be the experts in their fields, but they do not always have the necessary teaching skills. The Centre for Health Sciences Education (CHSE) at the faculty has developed a generic short course in undergraduate clinical supervision
to address the above issue.
Results and conclusion: The data were used to inform restructuring of the short course for the following year. The impact of this short course on clinical supervisors was that their interaction with students in the clinical setting improved. There was unanimous support for extending the short course to all clinical supervisors. The lecturers involved in developing the course were positive about the interprofessional cooperation among colleagues and students. They emphasised that the Faculty of Health Sciences has an obligation to provide opportunities for clinical supervisors to improve their skills to supervise students.

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