Characteristics and Expectations
Characteristics and Expectations of Effective Clinical Education
There is no doubt that being an effective clinical educator does require energy, motivation and interest. And, having sound organisation and time-management skills most certainly helps!
Students are likely to bring to their placement a degree of anxiety and apprehension about many things, including their ability to succeed, about their relationship with you their clinical educator and about your impression of them.
If they find that you are approachable and set them at ease from the beginning, and if they are aware of your expectations of them from the outset, then they are going to be a lot more open to learning, to asking questions and to reflecting with you on their learning.
The good news is, it is not necessary to be an expert to provide an effective clinical learning experience for a student! For instance, you don't need to be an expert to encourage the student to reflect and to practice critical thinking, to foster self-management skills, professional socialisation and communication, nor to demonstrate and build enthusiasm and interest in the work and the profession.
"You are not expected to know everything, so long as you know the strategies of how to search solutions"
(Occupational Therapy Clinical Educator, PA Hospital [personal communication, May 25, 2007]).
According to students surveyed in a study by Hummell (1997, as cited in Ftizgerald, 2007, March) the following clinical educator attributes were rated as highly desirable :
- an active listener
- an effective communicator
- provides constructive feedback.
- flexible and enthusiastic about clinical education and the profession itself
- provides appropriate orientation and grading of student responsibility
- provides clear rationale for interventions
In interviews and written responses gained for the purpose of this resource, from local Brisbane-based clinical educators, positive CE attributes that student feedback indicated was considered helpful to learning, included :
- "My openness and 'lack of blame' approach to clinical education"
- "I am not threatened, I get in there and do"
- "That I place confidence in them…. respecting them as equals, colleagues and capable individuals".
- "A relaxed approach with a focus on clinical skill"
- "Introducing [students] to assessment and intervention early on without the expectation of doing things perfectly"
- "Hands-on active role-model"
- "Expecting a lot from the student, and then providing equal support".
- "Giving feedback that is explicit, early and that helps student to identify a concrete operational plan toward a goal"
(K. Adam; N. Flynn, J. Copley, personal communication, May, June, 2007)
Do you think you could match some of these attributes? It is likely that you already do.
What Does Being A Student Clinical Educator Involve?
|Providing clinical education is about engaging the student in an experiential teaching and learning process in the context of sensitive and ethical client care which, is student focussed, explorative and may be student lead. It involves the translation of theory into the development of clinical knowledge and skills and supports the development of clinical reasoning, professional socialisation and life-long learning (McAllister, 1997, as cited in Fitzgerald, 2007, March).|
"[Clinical education is] to encourage students to "think out loud", to externalise everything and have clinical discussions …this is critical to learning how to reach a decision". (J. Copley, OT clinical educator, multiple mentoring placement model [personal communication, May 24, 2007])
"I had a student once who was incredibly shy. Her theoretical application of knowledge was of a high standard, however she had great difficulty separating the professional from the personal, and could not see the value and necessity of developing rapport and relating to the client by engaging in chat, particularly if the client was not the type of person she would normally engage in chat with. My highest priority with this student was to help her find her 'professional-self', being that which separates personal preferences and biases from her professional and therapeutic relationship with the client." (K.Adam, OT clinical educator, workplace rehabilitation practice [personal communication, May 10, 2007])
Important Roles of the Clinical Educator
Facilitator: "to facilitate the "learning of the process you use to get to the to end-point/outcome" (J. Copley, personal communication, May 24, 2007)
Role Model: "To openly display any uncertainties that naturally arise and to model the professional response to them" (J. Copley, personal communication, May 24, 2007)
"Students are always with me, they learn from watching me conduct myself. They see me as a person, a professional and a mentor". (K.Adam, personal communication, May 10, 2007).
"Its about providing practical modelling and demonstration and then asking the student "what does this tell you?" …..challenging their clinical reasoning, and helping them to identify why and when things need to happen". (S. Bartholomai, personal communication, May 31, 2007)
Mentor: "To not know everything. The student needs to see you, warts and all" (J. Copley, personal communication, May 24, 2007)
"It's important [as clinical educator] to highlight that clinical knowledge as a student, is not as important as their professional presentation". (In linking to what the SPEF assesses)." (S. Bartholomai, personal communication, May 31, 2007).
Motivator: " To help the student to figure out their own personal challenges and make an explicit goal plan toward addressing them" (J. Copley, personal communication, May 24, 2007).
Consultant to Learning: "to assist the person to learn to about behaving in that professional arena. For example, how to apply their personal self in a professional and therapeutic way, to understand about the subtleties of communicating and relating to clients, and to learn how to identify what is important" (K. Adam, personal communication, May 10, 2007)
Clinical Skills Educator: "My approach is to promote independence and autonomy with all aspects of service delivery. For this to happen successfully, we have academically developed proformas, protocols and checklists regarding assessment procedures, for arranging visits and such, that students use" (K. Adam, personal communication, May 10, 2007).
"Students really benefit from regular 'teaching sessions' - time spent going through assessments such as how to do a kitchen assessment, and having in-services presented on specific topics - such as Cognition or Perception …. I find they understand more about a topic when it is directly relevant to the work context. This is invaluable as it ties theory to practice." (S.Bartholomai, personal communication, May 31, 2007)
Additionally, being a clinical educator is about carrying out the following roles:
Manager: ensuring a smooth, planned and motivating placement
Observer: actively monitoring student performance, client response and student/client interaction; acknowledges student learning style
Instructor: allows opportunity for questions, carefully listening; attention to student learning style; teaching a new skill; clear explanations.
Counsellor: allows time for support and feedback; is a mutually educative exchange, offers problem-solving, ensures privacy, maintains appropriate role boundaries.
Assessor: analyses performance merits and problems; timely in identifying learning needs; relies on keen observation and documentation of observations; expectations are clear, certifies pass/fail based on SPEF-R (Student Placement Evaluation Form - Revised Edition, see "Evaluation" link, below).
Feedback: provides recommendations for improvement, is timely; relates to remediable behaviours; takes place in written, verbal, direct, indirect and peer feedback styles.
As a clinical educator, you are providing opportunities that enable the student to learn by way of inquiry, observation, action, reflection, feedback and evaluation.
Clinical education is a two-way learning process. If you don't know something, you can both learn in this way through joint inquiry. Remember when we listed the benefits of having a student? Opportunity to develop your personal supervision skills, to hone your clinical reasoning skills, and to keep up to date with theories and evidence, were on top of the list! We can only continue to learn from a student clinical education experience!
You may like to refer to Suggestion Sheet 1.8: How can I gain occupational therapy clinical educator skills? for more ideas about supports and educational/training opportunities available to you.
Next ---> Evaluation