Clinical supervisors’ reflections on their role, training needs and overall experience as dental educators

Emma K. Bartle, Kelly M. McGowan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: The aims of this study were to understand the views of clinical supervisors overseeing final year dental students and investigate their perceived role, level of support and training available, and ways to improve the supervisory experience. Methods: Clinical supervisors who oversaw fifth-year dental students in 2019 were invited to participate in an online survey. Respondents who indicated their willingness to participate were contacted for a semi-structured interview which were analysed using Constant Comparative Methodology. Results: Sixteen supervisors completed the survey, with a response rate of 73%. Respondents reported low levels of formal training in clinical supervision (38%) and most (75%) felt further training would be beneficial for their role. While nearly all (94%) reported they had developed as a dental professional through supervision, most (63%) were not positively encouraged to develop a career as a supervisor, with tensions between health service delivery and academia identified as a key challenge. The driving motivator to supervise was a desire to teach (62.5%). Seven (44%) participants completed the semi-structured interview. Participants’ perception of their role varied depending on career stage and clinic location. Lack of recognition and defined career pathways were the biggest challenges reported by participants. Conclusion: Retention and morale of supervisors may increase with better-defined career pathways and meaningful professional development opportunities. There is a need to develop tailored training programs for supervisors that enable them to teach critical thinking and clinical judgement while ensuring patient safety.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-290
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Dental Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes


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