Physiotherapists prefer clinical supervision to focus on professional skill development: A qualitative study

David A. Snowdon, Shae Cooke, Katherine Lawler, Grant Scroggie, Kimberley Williams, Nicholas F. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: We explored physiotherapists’ perceptions of clinical supervision. Method: Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 21 physiotherapists from a public hospital. Qualitative analysis was undertaken using an interpretive description approach. The Manchester Clinical Supervision Scale (MCSS–26) was administered to evaluate the participants’ perceptions of the effectiveness of the clinical supervision they had received and to establish trustworthiness in the qualitative data by means of triangulation. Results: The major theme was that the content of clinical supervision should focus on professional skill development, both clinical and non-clinical. Four subthemes emerged as having an influence on the effectiveness of supervision: the model of clinical supervision, clinical supervision processes, supervisor factors, and supervisee factors. All sub-themes had the potential to act as either a barrier to or a facilitator of the perception that clinical supervision was effective. Conclusions: Physiotherapists reported that clinical supervision was most effective when it focused on their professional skill development. They preferred a direct model of supervision, whereby their supervisor directly observed and guided their professional skill development. They also described the importance of informal supervision in which guidance is provided as issues arise by supervisors who value the process of supervision. Physiotherapists emphasized that supervision should be driven by their learning needs rather than health organization processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-257
Number of pages9
JournalPhysiotherapy Canada
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


  • Education
  • Mentors
  • Organization and administration
  • Qualitative research
  • Staff development

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