Most OH practitioners agree that "clinical" or
"professional" supervision is a good idea. Having regular, protected
time with a supervisor for in-depth reflection, enabling the practitioner to
develop their practice and be supported, is important whether in clinical
practice, management or education.
So why are OH nurses finding it hard to establish supervision in their
workplaces? OH is not unique in finding problems in implementation, one cause being
resource constraints, mainly time and money to replace nurses while supervision
The benefits have also been hard to evaluate, making it difficult to
"sell" to management. The UKCC has recommended supervision but has
given little direction on what models to use, particularly in such a diverse
speciality as OH.
Perhaps part of the problem lies in OHNs seeing supervision as another task
instead of an integral part of practice, as intended. Students completing their
OH education are expected to reflect on their development with tutors and
placement supervisors. This should continue throughout lifelong practice and be
used to help demonstrate quality OH services.
Through networking with OH colleagues, there appears to be some good
examples of models of supervision in use. These practitioners have worked
through the peripheral issues in introducing supervision and have established
systems either through one-to-one, group or peer supervision. These examples
should be shared, including the problems, to guide others in implementing the
One major issue is ensuring that any model provides "quality"
supervision. How can this be achieved? It is important that a supervisor must
understand the principles and skills of supervision and can work in a
reflective way with the supervisee.
A supervisor should be working from an experienced professional practice
viewpoint and have an educated understanding of the surrounding issues, such as
the ethical and theoretical perspectives, to help develop professional
The difficulties in accessing supervisors and developing standards are being
discussed at a national level and solutions will follow in time. Before then
let us share our experiences and move forward in integrating supervision into
Linda Maynard is coordinating a working party on supervision for the