Reality or rhetoric: Is Allied Health clinical supervision really all that?

Mrs Janelle Roby1, Mrs Rebekah Reurich1, Dr Sue Fitzpatrick1

1Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, Wollongong, Australia

Background:The complex demands of modern healthcare and clinical governance has resulted in increasing demand for effective clinical supervision (CS) for Allied Health professionals (AHP’s).  A growing body of literature has explored models and frameworks for delivering effective clinical supervision, however, how this translates in experience and value for AHP’s warrants exploration.

Clinical supervision for AHP’s in the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) is supported by a mandatory policy outlining principles of CS, and this research sought to explore their experience.

The themes uncovered will be shared in our presentation as we answer the question: Is a clinical supervision policy for AHP’s reality or rhetoric?

Methods: A cross sectional series of thirteen action research focus groups were held across nine rural and regional sites.  Participant experiences were recorded in view of the groups on butcher’s paper.  Demographic data was captured via a de-identified questionnaire. Theming was conducted by the moderators alongside an independent researcher.

Results: Sixty-seven participants from ten allied health professions attended the focus groups, with broad representation of professional levels/experience. Three central domains which affect experience of CS were identified being people, performance and process; which sit within the multidirectional meta-theme of culture.  A model has been proposed to demonstrate this interplay.

The existing ISLHD policy was updated and a district portfolio created for the ongoing development of AHP CS.


Conclusion: A collaboratively developed and organisationally endorsed policy is important in engaging AHP’s in clinical supervision, however, its implementation including culture and the identified CS domains need careful consideration to ensure the policy and experience is effective and valuable for participants.

It is hoped that sharing this process with conference participants will continue the discourse around clinical supervision and facilitate a shift from rhetoric into a valuable resource.


Janelle Roby is a Senior Physiotherapist and Disability Liaison Clinician with the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD).  She holds a Masters in Health Leadership and Management and a Bachelor of Physiotherapy.

Rebekah Reurich is a Senior Social Worker with the Illawarra Brain Injury Service in the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District.  She holds a Master of Social Work degree.

Dr Sue Fitzpatrick is the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District Executive Director of Allied Health and the former

ISLHD Speech Pathology Head of Department.  She is a Doctor of Health Science having completed her thesis in the field of clinical supervision.

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