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Super vision
  1. John Launer
  1. Dr John Launer, London Deanery, Stewart House, London WC1B 5DN, UK; jlauner{at}

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My main educational role these days is to organise and lead courses in supervision for consultants and senior trainees. We address topics such as how to help high fliers to achieve their potential, how to support doctors in difficulty, and how to challenge ones who are behaving inappropriately. We run training in a variety of formats including one-day introductory workshops, three-day courses and a professional certificate course extending over a whole year. We advertise through websites and by email. Generally the courses fill up very quickly, so that we often have a waiting list for places.

Recently we sent out an email to consultants in London, announcing that places were still available on our next three-day course. In response, one consultant wrote to us as follows: “Do people really need three days to learn how to supervise? I mean, can any clinician afford this much time off for a course such as this? I can understand a clinically based update course taking a day or two, but supervision is not exactly rocket science, is it? Sure, some people do it badly, I know, but that is more likely to be down to poor attitude, or pressure of time etc, rather than any deficiency of knowledge or skills. Anyway, I would contend that 90% of good supervision is down to good clinical knowledge.”


I was taken aback. However, I was grateful that the writer had expressed so clearly what many of his colleagues feel, but are normally too polite to say. There is in fact widespread hostility, especially among …

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  • Competing interests: None.

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