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Workplace training for senior trainees: a systematic review and narrative synthesis of current approaches to promote patient safety
  1. Merrilyn Walton1,
  2. Reema Harrison1,
  3. Annette Burgess2,
  4. Kirsty Foster3
  1. 1School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  2. 2Central Clinical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  3. 3Northern Clinical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Reema Harrison, School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Room 314 Edward Ford Building, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia; reema.harrison{at}


Background Preventable harm is one of the top six health problems in the developed world. Developing patient safety skills and knowledge among advanced trainee doctors is critical. Clinical supervision is the main form of training for advanced trainees. The use of supervision to develop patient safety competence has not been established.

Objective To establish the use of clinical supervision and other workplace training to develop non-technical patient safety competency in advanced trainee doctors.

Data sources Keywords, synonyms and subject headings were used to search eight electronic databases in addition to hand-searching of relevant journals up to 1 March 2014.

Method Titles and abstracts of retrieved publications were screened by two reviewers and checked by a third. Full-text articles were screened against the eligibility criteria. Data on design, methods and key findings were extracted. Clinical supervision documents were assessed against components common to established patient safety frameworks. Findings from the reviewed articles and document analysis were collated in a narrative synthesis.

Results Clinical supervision is not identified as an avenue for embedding patient safety skills in the workplace and is consequently not evaluated as a method to teach trainees these skills. Workplace training in non-technical patient safety skills is limited, but one-off training courses are sometimes used.

Conclusions Clinical supervision is the primary avenue for learning in postgraduate medical education but the most overlooked in the context of patient safety learning. The widespread implementation of short courses is not matched by evidence of rigorous evaluation. Supporting supervisors to identify teaching moments during supervision and to give weight to non-technical skills and technical skills equally is critical.


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