Serving as a supervisor is one of our most important roles as communication sciences and disorders (CSD) professionals.
Supervision provides an ideal platform for learning and sharing personal and professional best practices. The methods learned can support new colleagues in pursuit of a long and fulfilling career. Young CSD professionals absorb information about their abilities, work priorities, professional conduct, boundaries, stress management, the role and use of authority, constructive feedback, professional development and, of course, the study of evidence-based practice.
Reflect on your own experience with your first supervisor. How was the dynamic between you? I offer these questions about that experience to help form guidelines regarding your own supervision or mentoring of young professionals or students:
- Did you feel your supervisor liked you and believed in you?
- Did they make the time to mentor you?
- Was he or she an example of the clinician you wanted to become, both professionally and personally?
- How do you think he or she managed stress? What did you learn from that?
- Consider supervisors or mentors when working with clients. What did you experience in these settings and what did you learn from them?
Now consider what you think you brought to this relationship as a supervisee. These questions can also help you assess and improve current or future supervisor/mentor relationships:
- What was your professional intention for this dynamic?
- How did you present yourself?
- Did you ask considerate questions when you were unclear about something?
- How would you rate your proactivity?
- What was your level of organization?
- Did you feel you were able to manage feedback and stress well?
- How accountable were you for your actions or lack thereof?
- Were you open to new experiences and perspectives?
- How flexible were you when plans changed or things did not go your way?
- What did you experience and what did you internalize from these cases?
If you have also been a supervisor, now reflect on these questions on your performance as a supervisor.
The approach and communication style of a supervisor drives the clinical teaching dynamic. From watching and interacting with a supervisor or mentor, young CSD professionals absorb information about their abilities, work priorities, professional conduct, boundaries, stress management, the role and use of authority, constructive feedback, professional development, and of course, the study of evidence-based practice.
By considering and answering these questions together, you and your protege can work toward a more effective, mutually beneficial partnership. Review these questions regularly—monthly, for example—and understand that answers may change as you encounter new situations together. This exercise promotes open exchange of ideas, identifies areas of potential conflict before they occur, and provides an opportunity to share stressors and concerns so that they can be processed and neutralized.
Sharon Rice, MS, CCC-SLP, has clinical experience in healthcare and educational settings. She is PROMPT Bridging and LSLS-AVT trained. She is the founder and director of continuing education at speechceu.com. She’s also an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 11, Administration and Supervision.