Clinical Supervision: invisibility on the contemporary nursing and midwifery policy agenda
Clinical supervision is often accepted as a formal relationship‐based system of support and practice development provided by approved Supervisors to the staff in human service agencies to maximize the best possible outcomes for their respective clientele. However, operational definitions of CS have not been without ambiguity, contest and international differences (White et al. 1993, Milne 2007). In recent times, and in deference to predominant managerial and medical training agendas, CS has become spuriously used as a tautological synonym for coaching, mentorship, peer review, clinical facilitation, preceptorship, clinical teaching, buddying, debriefing and other oversight/point‐of‐care encounters. Not uncommonly, the term is also used as a byword for ‘personal performance review', case review and even therapy. I have expressed concern about such ‘muddying of the waters' and the attendant risk whereby, in changing the nomenclature, the nursing and midwifery professions may eventually lose control of the CS narrative (White 2014).
Although CS is frequently cited in health service governance reports and position statements of many, if not most, health and social care professional organisations, evidence‐based guidelines about how best it should be delivered and evaluated have remained insufficient. Furthermore, a commitment to sponsor empirical investigations to review, regularly, the efficacy of CS arrangements in local, regional or national settings, appears reluctant. It is also the case that rigorous, large‐scale, quantitative research studies are a challenge to design, conduct and interpret (White 2016). In relation to nursing and midwifery, with rare exceptions (White and Winstanley 2010), it follows that the international literature is replete with accounts from studies with small (even tiny) sample sizes, which rest at the level of qualitative description, and in which the lack of empirical evidence continues to be lamented.
The landmark Clinical Supervision Evaluation Project (CSEP; Butterworth et al.