Expertise amongst allied health clinical educators: A scoping review

Mrs Gretel Evans1,2, A/Prof. Merrolee Penman1, Dr Kate Thomson1

1University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia, 2Western Sydney Local Health District, Westmead, Australia

The importance of clinical placements for student learning, professional identity formation and skills development is widely accepted in allied health.  The role of clinician-educators is considered essential to a successful learning experience yet the role is complex, with little opportunities for preparation and development. This scoping review aimed to explore the concept of expertise in allied health clinical educators, including how this expertise is defined, understood and developed.

This research followed a recognised scoping review method.  Literature was drawn from peer-reviewed and non-peer reviewed sources using search terms such as “allied health, “clinical educator” and “expertise” in 7 databases.  A hand search was also undertaken to identify additional papers.  Using Covidence software, three reviewers completed a systematic, iterative screening process using selection criteria.  Data was extracted and synthesised by all reviewers to achieve consensus.

Searches identified 3224 papers. 3082 irrelevant papers were excluded, 142 were screened by title/abstract, then 89 via full text. Following this, 21 papers were selected for final inclusion.  Diverse labels are used to represent the concept of expertise with most studies collecting data that explored student and educator perspectives. Despite some agreement on what makes a good clinical educator and the qualities that students appreciate in their educators, there is less clarity in how we define and understand expertise in allied health clinical education. Further, few papers consider how this expertise is developed or enhanced.

These findings demonstrate significant gaps in our understanding around clinician-educator expertise and provide useful insights for further research and practice.


Gretel Evans is a clinical educator, practising occupational therapist and PhD candidate.  In her role as a student educator at Westmead Hospital in Sydney, Gretel has developed an interest in researching and conducting high quality, innovative, and sustainable student placements.  Gretel’s PhD research focuses on expertise development amongst allied health clinicians who supervise students.

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