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Professional Development Framework for Supervisors

In January 2010, it became mandatory for all educational supervisors to be selected, and demonstrate an ability to fulfil their role.

The Professional Development Framework for Supervisors was developed to satisfy these regulatory requirements while at the same time, recognising the wealth of educational experience and training that many supervisors already have under their belt.

Recent GMC proposals have reinforced this development, with the formal recognition and approval of trainers now expected by July 2016 according to Recognising and Approving Trainers: The Implementation Plan (GMC 2012).

The Framework defines the standards expected of supervisors in London, and the requirements on Trusts to deliver these standards and is entirely consistent with current GMC proposals.  A supervisor’s portfolio has been developed which will form the basis for accreditation and there are recommendations in relation to educational role and job planning.    

Curriculum for clinical teachers

It is vital, both for trainees and for patients, that all those involved in postgraduate medical and dental education are appropriately trained for their role.  But what does that mean in practice?

Teaching in the clinical setting, whether in secondary or primary care, will involve certain types of educational activity.  We have identified four such areas.  Areas which inevitably overlap, and are by no means exhaustive, but that describe those educational activities in which postgraduate clinical teachers tend to be commonly engaged.  They are:

Clinical supervision

Day-to-day supervision in the clinical setting.  Clinical supervision involves being available, looking over the shoulder of the trainee, teaching on-the-job with developmental conversations, regular feedback and the provision of a rapid response to issues as they arise.   All trainees should have a named clinical supervisor for each post, who must be able to tailor the level of supervision to the competence, confidence and experience of their trainee.  Workplace-based assessment will also tend to fall to the clinical supervisor.

Educational supervision

The supervision of a trainee’s progress over time.  Educational supervisors are responsible for ensuring that trainees are making the necessary clinical and educational progress.  Educational supervisors will need all the skills of clinical supervision, plus an appreciation of supporting educational theory, the ability to undertake appraisal, work with portfolios and provide careers advice.  Managing the trainee in difficulty will also, inevitably involve the educational supervisor.

Working with groups

From the facilitation of an action learning set to the delivery of a lecture to a packed postgraduate centre, working with groups, both small and large, involves a set of skills that will be required by most clinical teachers at one time or another during their career.

Educational management and leadership

Postgraduate clinical education is a complex area, subject to rapid and often turbulent change, with those in management positions faced with the double burden of maintaining a service whilst providing a meaningful training for the next generation of clinicians.  The system requires effective management and leadership, and all those involved in its organization - from programme director to head of school, from clinical tutor to postgraduate dean - will need the management and leadership competences to keep patients safe whilst ensuring excellence in education.



It is required, in educational agreements with Trusts, for all consultant teachers to be appropriately trained for their educational role. Specialty registrars too, are required by their College curricula to develop competence in these educational areas and should be encouraged to access developmental opportunities provided.

For a comprehensive curriculum for medical educators see the Academy of Medical Educators


GMC standards for trainers

The GMC’s document The Trainee Doctor (GMC 2011a) has articulated standards forsupervisors, providing the regulatory benchmark. From 2013, the GMC proposes the introduction of an approvals framework for both named educational supervisors and named clinical supervisors (GMC 2012).

The 2012 edition of the Professional Development Framework has pre-empted this development in order to promote quality enhancement. In describing a set of standards and processes that are developmental, rather than purely credentialing, and which specify criteria for excellence as well as minimum standards, we hope to develop supervisory practice within London to a point where we can deliver our aim to provide ‘world-class education for world-class healthcare’ (London Deanery 2008). The 2012 edition of the framework can be down loaded here.

General Medical Council (2011a) The Trainee Doctor. London, GMC.
General Medical Council (2012) Recognising and Approving Trainers: a consultation document. London, GMC.
London Deanery (2008) Strategic Business Plan. Retrieved from (1 July 2008).




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