Supervisor Continuity or Co-Location: Which Matters in Residency Education? Findings From a Qualitative Study of Remote Supervisor Family Physicians in Australia and Canada

Susan M Wearne, Tim Dornan, Pim W Teunissen, Timothy Skinner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: Changes to health care systems andworking hours have fragmentedresidents’ clinical experiences withpotentially negative effects ontheir development as professionals.Investigation of off-site supervision,which has been implemented in isolatedrural practice, could reveal importantbut less overt components of residencyeducation. 

Method: Insights from sociocultural learningtheory and work-based learning provideda theoretical framework. In 2011–2012,16 family physicians in Australia andCanada were asked in-depth how theyremotely supervised residents’ workand learning, and for their reflectionson this experience. The verbatiminterview transcripts and researchers’memos formed the data set. Templateanalysis produced a description andinterpretation of remote supervision. 

Results: Thirteen Australian family physiciansfrom five states and one territory, andthree Canadians from one province,participated. The main themes werehow remoteness changed the dynamicsof care and supervision; the importanceof ongoing, holistic, nonhierarchical,supportive supervisory relationships; andthat residents learned “clinical courage”through responsibility for patients’ careover time. Distance required supervisorsto articulate and pass on their expertiseto residents but made monitoringdifficult. Supervisory continuityencouraged residents to build on pastexperiences and confront deficiencies. 

Conclusions: Remote supervision enabled residents todevelop as clinicians and professionals.This questions the supremacy of co-locationas an organizing principle forresidency education. Future specialists maybenefit from programs that give themongoing and increasing responsibilityfor a group of patients and supportive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-31
Number of pages7
JournalAcademic Medicine
Volume90
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015

Keywords

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Internship and Residency
  • Organization and Administration
  • Physicians, Family
  • Rural Health Services

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