Background: Clinical educators are expected to prepare students to be competent beginning practitioners, ready to enter the workforce and meet the demands of competent practice. As part of ensuring the quality of clinical education, universities that provide these programs need to be involved in the education and support of clinical educators. In this paper we examine the preparation and professional development of clinical educators based on research into the experiences of being a clinical educator (McAllister 2001).
Methods: The research approach involved a blend of hermeneutic phenomenology and narrative inquiry. In-depth interviews were conducted with five speech pathologists in Australia. Data were analysed using a phenomenological analysis process.
Results: Recurrent themes in the research were represented by 12 themed stories to richly portray participants' experiences of being clinical educators. An example is provided in this paper. The research produced a model of The Experience of Being a Clinical Educator. The six dimensions of this model are: a sense of self, of self-identity; a sense of relationship with others; a sense of being a clinical educator; a sense of agency or purposeful action; dynamic self-congruence; and the experience of growth and change.
Conclusion: Becoming and being a clinical educator is a developmental process, mirroring in some ways the developmental process clinical educators strive to facilitate for their students. This journey of growth and development as a clinical educator requires active learning approaches coupled with reflection on one's practice as a clinical educator. The model can be used to educate clinical educators in speech pathology and other professions, given the commonalities in clinical educators' roles across professions. Interactive and reflective strategies are presented in the paper for the development and support of clinical educators across the continuum from novice to professional artist.