Australian and Canadian Student and Supervisor Experiences of Telesupervision in Allied Health Clinical Education

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 38: Learning for Life and Work in a Complex World

July, 2015, 528 pages
Published by
T. Thomas, E. Levin, P. Dawson, K. Fraser & R. Hadgraft

This paper presents the findings of a study exploring the telesupervision experiences of allied health (AH) students and supervisors during clinical education (CE) placements in AH programs in Australian and Canadian Universities. Telesupervision is the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) software and tools (e.g., smartphones/tablets) for communication between university staff, placement supervisors and students undertaking placements in the presence or absence of a supervisor onsite.

Telesupervision is not widely used in AH but with increasing placement shortages, excessive clinician workloads and difficulty recruiting experienced supervisors it is essential to consider innovative ways of providing clinical supervision. A series of case studies were conducted in various placement contexts with varying placement duration, types and amounts of telesupport. After receipt of telesupervision, twelve students completed a questionnaire. Five university-based CE coordinators were interviewed about their experiences. Interview data were analysed thematically. Student questionnaire data were analysed using descriptive statistics, capturing experiences such as barriers to telesupervision, and proficiency and interest in using ICT to receive telesupervision. Students expressed interest in using ICT during placements for contact with their university CE coordinators to discuss issues (discipline-specific/generic) that arose during their placements, to request additional learning support, to debrief and reflect on their placement experiences and to communicate their progress. CE coordinators used telesupervision to provide remote supervision to students at role-emerging sites in the absence of an onsite supervisor, to support students experiencing difficulty while on placements, to provide feedback to the university about placement experiences, and to mentor onsite supervisors.

Keywords: Telesupervision, allied health, placements