Background paper  

Clinical Supervision Position Statement

Clinical Supervision is increasingly recognised as a core component of professional support for contemporary nursing and midwifery practice. There is consistent evidence that effective Clinical Supervision impacts positively on the professional development as well as the health and wellbeing of supervisees. The health and wellbeing of nurses and midwives is vital for recruitment and retention and ultimately a healthy and sustainable workforce. There is also emerging evidence that Clinical Supervision of health-care staff impacts positively on outcomes for service-users.

Clinical Supervision is a formally structured professional arrangement between a supervisor and one or more supervisees.
It is a purposely constructed regular meeting that provides for critical reflection on the work issues brought to that space by the supervisee(s). It is a confidential relationship within the ethical and legal parameters of practice. Clinical Supervision facilitates development of reflective practice and the professional skills of the supervisee(s) through increased awareness
and understanding of the complex human and ethical issues within their workplace.
Clinical Supervision as it is understood in this Position Statement is distinct from Point of Care Supervision, Facilitated Professional Development, Professional Supervision, Operational Management Processes, Clinical Management Processes, and Personal Staff Support.
A trusting alliance between the supervisee(s) and supervisor is the central element of effective Clinical Supervision. To develop and maintain this alliance Clinical Supervision:

◆ is conducted in regular, private and protected time, away from the practice setting;
◆ has effective communication and feedback at its core, is supportive, facilitative and focused on the work issues brought to the session by the supervisee(s);
◆ is an opportunity to talk about the realities, challenges and rewards of practice and to be attentively heard and understood by another professional;
◆ facilitates supervisee self-monitoring and self-accountability and involves the supervisee learning to be a reflective practitioner;
◆ is predictable and consistent with thoughtful and clear structures, boundaries, processes and goals;
◆ develops knowledge and confidence with a strengths-focus aimed at building supervisee practice skills and
awareness of practice;
◆ is a culturally safe and respectful relationship that has commitment from both the supervisor and supervisee(s);
◆ is supported by an agreement that is reviewed regularly and includes the extent and limits of confidentiality;
◆ is confidential within the ethical and legal boundaries of nursing and midwifery practice;
◆ supports supervisees to choose their supervisors;
◆ is provided by professionals who have undertaken specific training in Clinical Supervision and engage in their own regular Clinical Supervision;
◆ is not provided by a professional who has organisational responsibility to direct, coordinate or evaluate the performance of the supervisee(s).

It is the position of the Australian College of Nursing, the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses and the Australian College of Midwives that Clinical Supervision is recommended for all nurses and midwives irrespective of their specific role, area of practice and years of experience.

1. Clinical Supervision is embedded in all nursing and midwifery undergraduate and vocational education as a
component of professional practice.
2. All nurses and midwives are fully orientated to Clinical Supervision upon entry to their relevant workforce and have access to Clinical Supervision that meets their individual needs.
3. All Clinical Supervisors of individuals and groups undertake specific educational preparation for this role and engage in their own regular Clinical Supervision.
4. The nursing and midwifery professional bodies advocate for a national standard for educational preparation of Clinical Supervisors.
5. All employers of nurses and midwives positively support and actively promote quality Clinical Supervision through organisational policies, procedures and workplace culture.
6. Regular systematic evaluations of the quality and efficacy of Clinical Supervision arrangements are undertaken at the local service level, taking care not to compromise the integrity of confidentiality agreements between supervisors and supervisees.
7. The nursing and midwifery professional bodies advocate for investment in robust Clinical Supervision programs throughout the health and aged care systems to support implementation and sustainability.
8. The nursing and midwifery professional bodies advocate for investment in outcomes-related research to strengthen the Clinical Supervision evidence base and for continuous improvement.
9. The nursing and midwifery professional bodies collaborate with industrial associations to incorporate Clinical Supervision within Enterprise Bargaining Agreements.
10. The nursing and midwifery professional bodies take an active role in interdisciplinary collaboration and advocacy for Clinical Supervision


Endorsed by the Board of Directors

April 2019  

All documents are copyrighted to the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses. All rights reserved. No part may be reproduced or copied in any form without permission except as provided under the Copyright Act, 1968 (Clth). or for credentialing applications only.

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