Creating Balance: Thinking About YOUR Time During Clinical Externships

Learning Objective: This module will look at some suggestions to incorporate clinical education into an already full and busy clinical schedule and to maintain a balance in your work-life during the time of clinical education.

Our students need high quality clinical education experiences in order to move our professions towards excellence and ensure that those we serve continue to receive excellent care in the future. Being a Clinical Educator can be both a rewarding and challenging experience. We realize that providing clinical supervision takes extra effort and that adding this extra responsibility to an already full work life is challenging both professionally and personally. So, how can a person reap the rewards of being a Clinical Educator and make this lasting contribution to their profession, while avoiding feeling over-extended and exhausted?

Some of the benefits of being a Clinical Educator include:

Click on the buttons below to expand on the following benefits

How can some of these challenges be over come to make being a Clinical Educator more rewarding?

Hear are some of the ideas that I have tried for managing workload during clinical supervision:

• If needed – advocate to your supervisor the need for some extra preparation time before the student arrives and some flexibility in the scheduling clients/patients while the student is with you.
• Design a thorough orientation for your student. Providing them with the needed information in their first few days will save you teaching time down the road. And if you take the time to develop this – it is a resource you can use with all your future students. For information about what should be included in an orientation – see the UBC Clinical Educator Handbook (page: 7 and 16 for Audiologists and 14, 23 and 24 for SLPs)
• Adjust the schedule as you are able to allow time for discussion with your student, including time for the mid-term and final evaluations
• Prepare a list of readings for the student so that they can do self-directed learning while you need time to attend administrative needs of your work.
• Consider setting up applicable observations or experiences with other professionals to allow the student to experience clinical service outside of your caseload
• Share the workload – if you work at a site with multiple clinicians, considering sharing the supervision with one of your colleagues.

• Depending on the level and learning goals for your student, look at the client/patient schedule for the day and decide which sessions the student will lead with your coaching, which sessions they will share responsibility with you, and which session they will observe.
• Discuss timing within the appointment – For example - limit your case history to 10 minutes; end the session with 10 minutes left to discuss progress with the parent.
• Discuss a plan for when you will be able to provide feedback to the student and answer questions – i.e. 5 minutes at the end of each session; 20 minutes at the end of the day?
• As the externship progresses – (perhaps at the mid-term) discuss with the student the areas of practice where you feel they are ready for some independence. It is not necessary that you are present or observe 100% of the student sessions. Set up a plan for the student to discuss plans for the client session before and after and any indications of when they should seek your assistance. (For example : conduct the hearing assessment and then come discuss your results with me prior to relaying the results to the client).

Self-care is important!

We know that being a Clinical Educator requires extra effort and energy. If you are giving out extra energy, how do you restore it? Try to make sure that you are leaving some time in the schedule when your student is working independently and you have time to work on the other demands of you job. For example, consider if you have a project that that the student can work on for a half day each week while on externship. Designate that 4 hours each week is time they should work independently and that you are not available for guidance during that period.

Also, be sure to consider your needs while continuing to care for your clients or patients and also your student. There is emerging research on compassion fatigue and how those of us in the helping professions can be at risk for this. The following article related to the use of mindfulness as a technique for managing compassion fatigue may be of interest to you.

Above all remember to give yourself credit and rewards that work best for you. The university will say thank-you and your student will say thank-you, but you have to remember to give yourself a reward for a job well done!

Join the Conversation:

What suggestions would you have for a first time Clinical Educator to manage his/her workload to allow for student supervision?
What are some of the benefits you receive from being a Clinical Educator?

Contact Us: If you have questions or comments about this learning module, please email Darlene Hicks at