Pharmacy professionals’ perceptions of educational supervision in primary care through the lens of Proctor’s model

Michelle Styles, Ellen Schafheutle, Sarah Willis, Matthew Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Educational supervision plays a vital role in postgraduate medical education and more recently in pharmacy and advanced clinical practitioner training in England. Proctor’s three-function model of clinical supervision (consisting of formative, restorative, and normative functions) is assumed to apply to educational supervision, but this has not been tested empirically. The aim of this study was to establish perceptions of the purpose of educational supervision from the perspective of primary care pharmacy professionals enrolled on a national training pathway in England.

Using a mixed methods design, data were collected using a validated 25-item online survey and respondents were invited to add comments explaining their responses. The survey was sent to all 902 learners enrolled on a postgraduate training pathway for pharmacy professionals working in primary care. Principal components analysis (PCA) was used to interpret patterns in the survey data, and framework analysis of qualitative free text comments was used to identify themes and aid interpretation of quantitative findings.

187 pharmacy professionals responded (response rate 20.7%). PCA extracted three factors explaining 71.5% of the total variance. Factor 1 corresponded with survey items linked to the formative function of Proctor’s model, while factor 2 corresponded with survey items linked to the restorative function. No items corresponded with the normative function. Framework analysis of qualitative free-text comments identified two themes: learning support, which corresponded with factor 1; and personal support, which corresponded with factor 2.

This study identified that pharmacy professionals perceived educational supervision to perform two functions, formative (educational) and restorative (pastoral), but did not perceive it to perform a normative (surveillance) function. Educational supervision has the potential to support allied health professionals advancing their roles and we suggest the need for more research to develop models of effective educational supervision which can inform practice.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Medical Education
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2023


  • Primary care education
  • Postgraduate education
  • Workplace based learning
  • Supervision
  • Educational supervision
  • Clinical supervision
  • Proctor’s model


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