Clinical exercise physiology placement supervision processes and practices: where are we and where to next?
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Introduction: Clinical exercise physiology is a relatively new allied health profession and with an increasing number of university programs is facing clinical placement challenges similar to many other allied health programs. Furthermore, due to the newness of the profession, it is possible that those professionals who are supervising students on clinical placements may be young and inexperienced, adding additional challenges. The purpose of this study is to capture the current staffing and the current practices and processes associated with clinical exercise physiology student placement supervision in Australia.
Methods: An online survey with questions about supervisory experience and characteristics of current placement practices and processes associated with supervision was completed by 129 clinical placement supervisors.
Results: The majority of responding clinical placement supervisors were under 35 years (63%) and female (64%). Half of the supervisors reported ≤ 3 years of supervision experience. The majority of supervisors reported regularly undertaking student orientations/inductions (>90%), setting clear expectations for the placement (78%) and offering regular, formative feedback (62%) and summative feedback (84%). However fewer supervisors engaged in other practices which might facilitate student learning, such as encouraging reflective practice and discussing clinical reasoning. A majority of supervisors reported facilitating student participation in a broad range of clinical exercise physiology practice and modifying the duration or structure of a placement in response to student ability, confidence and independence.
Conclusion: Clinical exercise physiology supervisors were younger and less experienced than other allied health supervisors. Clinical exercise physiology placement supervisors are generally enthusiastic and diligent in employing a range of practices and processes that are likely to assist student learning while on placement, although not all are employing these regularly. Recommendations to enhance placement capacity through expanding placement opportunities and implementing efficient and consistent supervision practices and processes are provided.