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The irresistible rise of interprofessional supervision
  1. John Launer
  1. Correspondence to Dr John Launer, Associate Editor, Postgraduate Medical Journal, London, WC1H 9JP, UK; johnlauner{at}

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Interprofessional supervision happens when someone from one profession supervises a colleague from another. This can occur in a single episode – for example, through discussion of an individual case – or extend to a long term, regular arrangement. I have been a longstanding advocate and campaigner for supervision across the professions,1 and it is gratifying to see that the idea is spreading. In the United Kingdom, for example, some trainees in general practice now have educational supervisors who are nurse practitioners by background. In an increasing number of localities, professionals of all kinds – including pharmacists and hospital consultants as well as general practitioners and nurses – are now getting together in collaborative learning groups to discuss case narratives covering a variety of conditions including diabetes and frailty.2 In many hospital specialties like midwifery, neonatal medicine, rehabilitation, musculoskeletal medicine and palliative care, senior non-medical professions now have specialised knowledge and experience that closely parallels that of their medical colleagues. This is providing opportunities for doctors to turn to others for supervision, support and case discussions as much as to their own peers.

Some doctors inevitably have fears about interprofessional supervision. This is often because they associate supervision mainly with training and monitoring performance rather than with dialogue and reflection. They may be sceptical about the idea that these functions are inseparable, or could be carried out well by someone without a medical qualification. Doctors may see the increasing use of interprofessional supervision as a route towards providing education …

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