Clinical supervision: what do we know and what do we need to know? A review and commentary

J Nurs Manag. 2006 Nov;14(8):577-85. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2934.2006.00716.x.


Aims: This study is addressed to nurses but the issues are of equal concern to both midwives and health visitors. Clinical supervision ideally both challenges nurses as well as help their practice. There is need to identify critical elements that help professional practice and understand more clearly the changing nature of supervisory relationships.

Background: Clinical supervision in nursing is over a decade old in the UK and yet emerging nursing literature suggests that many ideas remain unfamiliar to nursing practice. The resistance shown by nurse towards clinical supervising remains perplexing. Moreover, ideas concerning clinical supervision have been applied without a substantive evidence base.

Methods: The discussion draws on varied ideas concerning supervision, including those outside of nursing, to ask what do we know and still need to know about clinical supervision. This study suggests that, a single approach to clinical supervision could be unhelpful to nursing.

Findings and conclusion: Nursing knowledge concerning many aspects of clinical supervision is increasing because of research. Much of the literature suggests that clinical supervision is scholarly activity requiring much the same attention to relationships as the therapeutic activities it supports. This discussion concludes with the idea that clinical supervision might work at its best as a quiet activity allowing nurses to think about nursing work in ways that suit individual learning styles.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Knowledge
  • Models, Nursing
  • Nurse Administrators / organization & administration
  • Nurse Administrators / psychology
  • Nurse's Role
  • Nursing Research / organization & administration*
  • Nursing Staff / organization & administration
  • Nursing Staff / psychology
  • Nursing, Supervisory / organization & administration*
  • Organizational Objectives
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Philosophy, Nursing
  • United Kingdom