Behind the stats – what do clinical educators do?

Mark Gooding1, Kassie Shardlow2, Susan Stoikov2

1The Townsville Hospital, Townsville, Australia, 2Metro South Health, , Australia


Education of health professional students within clinical practice settings is an essential component of developing competent, effective and safe clinicians.  Clinical educators (CEs) have dual roles while supervising students: 1) delivering health services 2) concurrent direct supervision and support of students.  The investigative team sought to gain a greater understanding of these dual roles by analysing how CEs spend their time during student placements.


To develop a data collection tool to capture CE activity during student placements including a breakdown of clinical and non-clinical tasks.

To determine the activity profile of physiotherapy CEs during clinical placements, specifically identifying a breakdown of their non-clinical tasks.


The project team developed, trialed and implemented a data collection tool designed to identify the daily clinical and non-clinical activities performed by CEs.  The tool was completed by 53 physiotherapy CEs in five Queensland Public Health Service hospitals. Data were collected over four, five-week placement blocks in four areas of clinical practice.  Data were analysed using descriptive statistics.


Analysis revealed that CEs spent most of their time teaching and training students (75%), with the remainder spent providing clinical care (15%), clinical services management (9%) and teaching and training other staff (1%).

Of the 75% of time spent teaching students: 80% was spent providing direct supervision of students undertaking clinical care; 8% preparing and providing formal feedback; and 12% delivering student education activities (e.g. tutorials).


Physiotherapy CEs spent significant amounts of time engaged in activities that support both service delivery and best practice clinical learning.  This presentation will explore the breakdown of these activities, including how time commitments to various tasks changed throughout the duration of placement.   Implications for practice including staff resourcing of allied health student placements and how this data links to student contribution will also be discussed.


For 8 years (2010 to 2018) Mark was the Queensland Physiotherapy Placement & Development Coordinator with primary responsibility for: the state-wide planning, coordination and management of the annual central allocation process; developing placement capacity and quality initiatives and undertaking analysis and evaluation of associated outcomes within the Queensland public health system. From July 2018 Mark has been the Assistant Director of Physiotherapy at The Townsville Hospital.

Mark has a particular interest in student and staff education and in the clinical areas of orthopaedics and cardiorespiratory. He is past Chair and member of the Queensland Orthopaedic Physiotherapy Network.

Mark has completed a Graduate Certificate in Health Management and a Graduate Certificate in Health Professional Education. He is also an adjunct clinical lecturer within the Physiotherapy department of James Cook University, Townsville.

NAHC Conferences

2007, Hobart (7th NAHC)

2009, Canberra (8th NAHC)

2012, Canberra (9th NAHC)

2013, Brisbane (10th NAHC)

2015, Melbourne (11th NAHC)

2017, Sydney (12th NAHC)

2019, Brisbane (13th NAHC)

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