A balancing act: The Supervisor of Training role in anaesthesia education

Damian J. Castanelli, Jennifer M. Weller, Anusha R. Chander, Elizabeth K. Molloy, Margaret L. Bearman

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7 Citations (Scopus)


In this qualitative study, we report how Supervisors of Training, educational supervisors overseeing the learning of anaesthesia trainees, experience their role in practice. Using purposive sampling, we interviewed Supervisors of Training from across Australia and New Zealand. The interviews began by asking ‘what do you see as your role as a Supervisor of Training?’ then explored the response in detail. Following the technique of thematic analysis, inductive analysis occurred as data were collected until we generated a thematic structure sufficient to address our research question after 19 interviews. In the first three of the four identified themes, Supervisors of Training perceived themselves as the fulcrum of the learning environment, ‘the something in between’. These three themes were: guiding and assessing trainees; identifying, supporting, and adjudicating trainee underperformance; and mediating trainees’ relationship with the hospital. Participants perceived themselves as a broker between trainees, their colleagues, their hospital, the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists and the community to varying degrees at different times. Negotiating these competing responsibilities required Supervisors of Training to manage multiple different relationships and entailed significant emotional work. Our fourth theme, scarcity, described the imbalance between these demands and the time and resources available. The complexity of the Supervisor of Training role and the tensions between these competing demands is underappreciated. Our findings would support strategies to mitigate the administrative load and share the decision-making burden of the role and to enhance the capability of Supervisors of Training by requiring formal training for the role.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-356
Number of pages8
JournalAnaesthesia and Intensive Care
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • anesthesiology/education
  • Attitude of health personnel
  • clinical competence
  • curriculum
  • education
  • graduate
  • learning
  • medical
  • qualitative research

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