Basics of Clinical Supervision in Nursing

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The concept of clinical supervision is not a new one. It has been well established for many years across various healthcare disciplines, including midwifery, mental healthcare and nursing. As a nurse, it is important to understand what it is, the benefits, and how it applies to the healthcare field, among other basics.

Clinical supervision in nursing can help develop, strengthen and enhance accountability among nurses improve skills and healthcare quality among patients.

What is Clinical Supervision in Nursing?

Clinical supervision in nursing is associated with both education and skill-building in the nursing field. It is an activity that allows for reflection between skilled nursing supervisors and newly seasoned nurses.

In each supervision session, the supervisor and the supervisee build strong bonds based on respect, expertise and respect. Contrary to popular opinion, where supervision is ill-thought, the purpose of clinical supervision is to increase transparency and accountability. The benefits of clinical supervision extend from the nurses to the patients and the organisation where the nurses work when implemented correctly.

Types of Clinical Supervision

There are various ways that clinical supervision can be completed in nursing, depending on the environment and nature of the work at hand.

There is no definitive method of completing the sessions. It largely depends on where you work and the policies of your employers. However, the methods of clinical supervision can be classified as follows;

One-to-one supervision

This type of clinical nursing supervision in the nursing field is strictly between the nurse and the clinical supervisor. Both medical professionals work closely and share the same field of speciality. Under this type of supervision, trust develops between the supervisor and the nurse. The two professionals can share feedback on improving nursing skills and service delivery without worrying about the judgment of their peers.

One-to-one peer supervision

One-to-one peer supervision is between two nurses of equal status. In this type of clinical supervision, the nurses take turns supervising each other. Under this arrangement, there is no supervisor or superior authority figure in the process. This allows for independence, and it also strengthens the problem-solving techniques that the nurses can come up with.

Although effective, one-to-one peer supervision is not recommended for inexperienced nurses or nurses that require a more structured level of clinical supervision. It works best with nurses who are extremely experienced in their areas of practice.

Group supervision

This is a more common arrangement among nurses in large hospitals. This type of supervision involves a group of nurses under the supervision of one clinical supervisor. Typically, the nurses will share critical details of their caseloads. They can take turns presenting a case to the group and receive feedback on how to improve their nursing skills and treatment ideas.

Group supervision allows nurses to receive various perspectives of their case. It promotes open-mindedness during the supervision process and encourages nurses to think broadly about how to overcome the various challenges they face in their line of work.

Peer group supervision

This clinical supervision approach is similar to one-to-one peer supervision. The only difference is, in this style of supervision, a group of nurses of the equal status meet to discuss their caseloads and the challenges they are experiencing.

It’s a challenging type of supervision that can easily degenerate into informalities taking away from the issues that need to be discussed. On the positive side, this also allows the nurses to discuss their personal experiences more openly. It allows each nurse to be more forthcoming with information and with each other since there is no authority figure in the mix.

Functions of Clinical Supervision For Nursing

Clinical supervision for nursing serves three functions;

  • Normative – Normative supervisions are about reviewing current standards maintaining and developing the standards of care. Areas of focus include safety, quality practices and ethics.
  • Formative – Formative clinical supervision aims at developing professional knowledge and skills among nurses. It embraces the concept of reflection and applying theory to practice.
  • Restorative – This function of clinical supervision is a supportive element that focuses on self-awareness and self-development among nurses.

In each of these categories, there are key aspects of clinical supervision identified with various objectives as per the framework. It’s just as important for the nurses as it is for the supervisors to know the relevant topics to bring to the sessions that might help, more so when starting out, so there is no shortage of focus and discussion areas.

Benefits of Clinical Supervision for Nurses

Clinical supervision, when executed the right way, can have numerous benefits for nurses aside from improving the general quality of healthcare. These benefits include;

  • The nurses can feel supported.
  • Less stress, burnout and work-related absence and sicknesses.
  • Personal and professional development.
  • Be less inclined to leave the profession.
  • Better confidence levels.
  • Better competence and clinical knowledge.

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