FNF Webinar: Clinical Supervision for Students

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Did you miss our FNF Policy Webinar on Clinical Supervision for Students? Not to worry – this blog has got you covered! With over 150 attendees present, we at the Florence Nightingale Foundation were honored to have guest speakers from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), the Foundation of Nursing Studies, Educators, and Students talking at our webinar on the 25th of April. Speaking with passion and confidence on the topic, our speakers and attendees created an inspiring and educational hour on what Clinical Supervision for students could look like moving forward. This begs the question, though… what is Clinical Supervision? And how can it create a positive change for nursing?

Clinical Supervision is a forum in nursing that offers time and support to staff, allowing them to not only reflect and learn, but to develop professionally. The need for it in Professor Paula Holt’s opinion, both from a personal and professional standpoint, is a must, and she expresses the extent of what Clinical Supervision has done for her and what it can do for others. Paula has worked across a lot of roles within the NHS, the armed forces and criminal justice system and has consistently accessed Clinical Supervision in practice. In detail, she expresses how essential it has been for her as a person and nurse stating:

It allowed me to reflect on the care that I was giving and has been critical to my own psychological wellbeing. Like many mental health nurses, I’ve been involved in caring for people in traumatic and isolated areas. So, for example, I was in Bosnia during the war in 1993/4, and 1997. And if it wasn’t for the clinical supervision, which I was getting over a telephone in those days, I don’t know how I would have managed to have the right clinical decision making in place.

Though this testimony showcases what Clinical Supervision can do for staff and patient welfare, Paula also shared her understanding that Clinical Supervision is not so readily available or recognised in other areas of health and social care – meaning other fields of nursing or midwifery do not experience the same benefits. Her role at the NMC, as well as the NMC’s vision, revolves around safety, effectiveness, and kindness in nursing and midwifery to improves the health and wellbeing of everyone. This very much feeds into why Clinical Supervision is necessary.

Different models of Clinical Supervision do exist but mainly have the same aims/goals. For example, there is a Psychotherapy-based Model of Supervision, Reflective Supervision, Developmental, Integrated, and so on – there is quite a list! In this Webinar, we had two models shared with us from panelists Grace and Louisa.

Grace Cook from the Foundation of Nursing Studies spoke on Resilience -Based Clinical Supervision and the meaning of this can be read in her words:

Resilience-based clinical supervision is a framework or a model of supervision and it was initially developed focusing on students and that transition period into being a qualified nurse. It’s very much a restorative model of clinical supervision. (…) [It focuses on emotions and our feelings in response to a situation.] So, it involves co-creating a safe space. It involves doing grounding exercises, checking in and reflecting and it always ends on a positive ending as well. The evidence base behind this shows that when it’s valued and when there’s protected time and a facilitator is supported to do this, this can aid with compassionate flow throughout an organization. So that could be a university, it could be a small organisation, it could be a big organization… so people feel valued, they feel a sense of belonging and containment, and they have this real courage to take action as well.

It is clear that within this framework of Clinical Supervision, students are able to develop resiliently into their professionalism and by doing so, create voices and actions free from fear. Resources on this can be found here.

Louisa Long is Assistant Professor of Mental Health Nursing at the University of Nottingham and she shared how Clinical Supervision was able to prevail during the COVID-19 pandemic where students were extremely overwhelmed, up until now. Not being able to meet in person at this time and delivering Clinical Supervision online was a different and tricky process for Louisa and her colleagues, with their main question being, how do we promote this and maintain safety? There were several activities that Louisa and her colleagues combined with clinical supervision including the listening lab, problem-solving activities with scenarios, confidence sessions, and so on. What was quickly realised and established in this circumstance was that consistency was key for longevity and that students involved gained what they needed, and more. Students began to take the lead and vocalise what they required like a virtual ‘wobble room’; essentially, an online space they could use to talk. They created online clubs like a craft club and even instigated a group Sunday lunch each week. All the above proved to be effective, and feedback consisted of positivity and a strong sense of safety and belonging, which is like our previous model that Grace discussed.

As you’ll probably agree, it is great to hear this from a panel of professionals with experience, evidence, and the ability to deliver Clinical Supervision to others, but what would a student nurse’s perspective look like? Well, Lincoln Gombedza, 3rd Year Learning Disability Student Nurse from Keele University shared this with us. Lincoln was experiencing many negative emotions because of the COVID-19 pandemic and his home studies. When signing up for the Resilience-Based Clinical Supervision programme, Lincoln was unaware of the transformation his life was about to have and he learned that, when on placement, he could stand confidently in who he was. He discovered the art of gratitude and viewing things more positively, rather than focusing on the many negatives student nurses on placements struggle with. Not only did this have positive effects on his work and professionalism, but also in Lincoln’s personal life, he has managed to find mindfulness and see improvements to his mental health.

No matter the positivity and support felt during this webinar or understood from the established evidence-based resources, or discussions with colleagues, friends… Clinical Supervision is not and will not be available to all without support from Board to floor. The need for Clinical Supervision to be accessible to everyone across all nursing and midwifery fields is only just beginning and we at FNF hope that this blog has been able to inform you on a few of the many positive reasons as to why this is needed!  We thank all our panelists and those in attendance for making this webinar possible. Clinical Supervision for nurses is a member and policy priority at the Florence Nightingale Foundation which we are taking forward on behalf of our members. If you would like to contact our Clinical Supervision Subject Expert Group (CS-SEG) for advice or guidance on clinical supervision, please get in touch with Jess Sainsbury, CS-SEG Chair, and Research and Policy Associate at Florence Nightingale Foundation, via email which can be found here.

Now, to close this blog, I leave this quote from Lincoln as our parting words.

I want to talk about resilience. So, this is from Oprah Winfrey. She said, “where there is no struggle, there is no strength”. So, raising your resilience threshold is a work in progress. So, make sure you evaluate your action, keep a positive attitude, accept feedback when you get it from your processes, take a break and sometimes, just let it go and move on to the next stage. It is not always personal.

Thank you for reading and we look forward to continuing the conversation on social media using the hashtags #ClinicalSupervision and #CSSEG.

This blog was authored by Stacey Chambers, Research and Policy Assistant at the Florence Nightingale Foundation.