Supporting and assessing students in clinical placements: your role

Physician Associate students require supervision undertaken by a named GMC Registered GP clinical supervisor (primary care) or speciality consultant (secondary care).

The role of the clinical supervisor

Your role as a supervising clinician is critical to the student’s clinical and professional development. Below are some of the activities required to support students.

Before placement

Check your availability to work with the student, particularly during the first week, when an initial meeting will be required. Also, that you are available on a regular basis throughout the placement.

Every student must be assigned a GMC registered supervising clinician at the beginning of the placement experience, who will need to be available to students

During placement

  • Ensure that an appropriate induction is given and documented
  • Conduct an initial meeting and plan for student development
  • Review the Practice Assessment Document (PAD) with the student, including DOPs sign-offs
  • Work alongside the student, demonstrating and teaching evidence-based practice
  • Directly observe and supervise the student's practice
  • Provide feedback, both verbal and written for the student on their progress
  • Document and liaise with the Course Leader when students are a cause for concern – (please see the Cause for Concern process in the students Practice Assessment document)
  • Conduct and record an end of placement assessment

Supervision of Physician Associate students

When the supervising clinician is not available to work directly with the student, in order to safeguard patients and aid the student's learning, you may delegate some day-to-day supervision to another registered health professional. The student must always be supervised, either directly or indirectly by a registered professional, appropriate to the level of the learner. The registered professional retains responsibility for all clinical consultations, decisions and treatment of patients.

PA students might see patients alone if their supervisor considered it appropriate for them to do so. However, we would not expect PA students to make independent decisions (without reference to a clinician who is appropriately qualified and registered with a registration body) about the medical management of a patient. Thus, during the placement, a number of health practitioners may supervise the student and facilitate their development. Other professionals should provide regular feedback about the student's progress to you, the assigned supervising clinician.

Assessment of Physician Associate students

Ultimately, the supervising clinician’s role is to assess the student. The evidence provided by other professionals adds rigour to the assessment, helps to ensure the reliability of the assessment and reduces subjectivity in the assessment process, as it is not based on a single person's viewpoint. However, it is important to note that the supervising clinician remains responsible and accountable for all the student's learning and assessment. Therefore, direct observation of the student by the supervising clinician remains an important aspect of assessment. The supervising clinician must make the final judgement about whether there is sufficient evidence that the student has achieved the required level of competence.