Strategies to support clinical instructors

Supporting the role of the clinical instructor in the clinical environment is an investment in the future of healthcare (Wilkes, 2006; Woeste & Barham, 2006). Clinical instructors who are recognized by their supervisors and co-workers for their teaching efforts are more confident in these positions. Small gestures of appreciation go a long way in helping clinical instructors develop a greater sense of identity as teachers and maintain a longterm commitment to student success. Many institutions acknowledge the contributions of outstanding clinical instructors with a plaque or certificate. Clinical instructors treasure this moment in the spotlight and proudly display these awards in their work spaces. In addition to formal recognition, other appropriate ways to show your clinical instructors that you value their time and talents include: providing opportunities to participate in professional development related to education, making special mention of their teaching efforts during performance appraisals, and offering release time from technical work responsibilities.

Professional development opportunities

Most clinical practitioners receive very little training when they assume roles as clinical instructors. In an ideal world, all new clinical instructors would participate in structured professional development programs that focus on developing teaching skills. During this training, adult education principles and pedagogies that engage students and promote learning would be highlighted (Molodysky et al., 2006; Sachdeva, 1996). Professional development related to education should be included along with the technical continuing education that is required to remain credentialed in the discipline. Table 8.1 lists national conferences by discipline that are recommended for clinical instructors who are interested in expanding their teaching practices.

One of the many benefits of attending professional development workshops is building relationships with educators from other institutions. Your staff will discover new teaching strategies as a result of these networking opportunities and may be invited to join

Table 8.1 Health professions national conferences


National Conference


Anesthesia Technology/ Anesthesia Technician

American Society of Anesthesia Technologists and Technicians - Annual Educational Conference

Cardiovascular Technology

Alliance of Cardiovascular Professionals - Regional Conferences

Computed Tomography

Association of Educators in Imaging and Radiologic Sciences — Annual Meeting Association of Collegiate Educators in Radiologic Technology - Annual Conference


American Society for Clinical Pathology — Annual Conference American Society for Cytotechnology — Annual Conference American Society of Cytopathology — Annual Meeting

Dental Hygiene/ Dental Assisting

American Dental Education Association — Annual Session

Diagnostic Medical Sonography

Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography - Annual Conference

Emergency Medical T echnology

National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians - Annual Meeting

Health Information Technology/ Health Informatics

American Health Information Management Association - Annual Assembly on Education Symposium



National Society for Histotechnology — Annual Symposium

Magnetic Resonance

Association of Educators in Imaging and


Radiologic Sciences — Annual Meeting Association of Collegiate Educators in Radiologic Technology - Annual Conference


Association of Educators in Imaging and Radiologic Sciences — Annual Meeting Association of Collegiate Educators in Radiologic Technology - Annual Conference


Tabic 8.1 (Cont.)


National Conference


Massage Therapy

American Massage Therapy Association — Schools Summit

Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals - Instructors on the Frontlines Workshops

Alliance for Massage Therapy Education Educational Congress-


Medical Assisting

American Association of Medical Assistants - Annual Conference

Medical Laboratory Science/Medical Laboratory Technician

American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science - Clinical Laboratory Educators Conference

Nuclear Medicine T echnology

Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging - Annual Meeting

Nursing/Nurse Assistant

National League for Nursing - Education Summit

Train the Trainer (refer to state department of health)

Occupational Therapy

American Occupational Therapy Association - Annual Education Summit

Ophthalmic Medical Technology/ Ophthalmic Technician

Association of Technical Personnel in Ophthalmology - Annual Scientific Session and Grand Rounds


Opticians Association of America — Annual Conference


American Pharmacists Association -


Pharmacy Technician

Annual Meeting

American Association of Pharmacy Technicians - National Convention PharmacyT echnician. com


American Society of Clinical Pathology — Annual Meeting

Physical Therapy/

Physical Therapist Assistant

American Physical Therapy Association — Annual Combined Sections Meeting


Association of Educators in Imaging and Radiologic Sciences - Annual Meeting Association of Collegiate Educators in Radiologic Technology - Annual Conference

Respiratory Therapy

American Association for Respiratory Care - Annual Congress

Speech-Language Pathology

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association - Annual Convention

Sterile Processing and Distribution

International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management - Annual Conference

Surgical Technology/ Surgical Assisting

Association of Surgical Technologists — Educators Conference

professional listservs where they can participate in clinical education-related conversations throughout the year. In certain disciplines, clinical instructors are able to earn continuing education credits through their professional organizations for the hours they teach in the clinical setting. This is an excellent way for professional societies to reward members for their work in mentoring the next generation of practitioners.

Performance appraisals

Accredited health professions programs must document that clinical instructors have appropriate academic degrees, professional credentials, and continuing education; however, clinical instructors’ ability to teach is rarely evaluated. Managers and program directors assume that students have been properly trained if they are able to pass their board exams. Regular performance appraisals would assist clinical instructors in improving their teaching practices and strengthening the clinical experiences they provide for students. These evaluations should minimally assess the clinical instructor’s subject matter knowledge, their ability to encourage a supportive learning environment and deliver appropriate feedback, and their commitment to student success. Performance appraisals that include teaching criteria would also validate the importance of the clinical instructor role in your department. A sample clinical instructor performance appraisal can be found in Appendix F. This document may be modified to align with the expectations established for clinical instructors in your clinical setting.

Release time

Managers should note that even the most committed clinical instructors often find it difficult to balance their roles as practitioners and teachers (Wilkes, 2006). Some days they will struggle to complete their work as well as facilitate learning activities for their students. Productivity levels may suffer while clinical instructors are conducting clinical rotations, so consider granting them release time (time away from daily responsibilities) while they are training students. These temporary slowdowns may be good for the department in the long run, especially if the students are eventually hired for staff positions.

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