Is this your first year being a CFY Supervisor? Have you been supporting the future of our field for years in this capacity? I have been very fortunate to support our profession as a Practicum Supervisor for several Undergraduate Student Clinicians and as a CFY Supervisor for new clinicians finding their feet in the field of Speech-Language Pathology. In an effort to grow professionally and to constantly evolve into a better version of myself personally and professionally, I always wrap the year up asking my clinicians for brutally honest feedback and evaluation of my skills as a Supervising Clinician. What is it that I did well? What do they feel I need to improve on? How best did I help them? How could I have been a better resource on their professional journey? This is what I learned.
1. Get to Know Your Clinician and Let Your Clinician Know You. When you are just starting out, it is nerve-racking enough! Although we need to maintain professional boundaries, we do not need to make it even worse on them. Be friendly but set guidelines. Share bits of your life so that you are personable and so that your clinician feels comfortable asking questions or requesting feedback. Get to know where your clinician is coming from. What is their background? Why did they choose this profession? What does their after-hours schedule look like?
2. Ask What Type of Supervisor that they like, are comfortable with, or require. However, keep in mind what they say they like and are comfortable with may not be what they require. For example, I had one clinician that told me she liked a relaxed supervisor that wasn’t breathing down her neck. What she requested though through her actions and her requirements (i.e. multiple emails, calls for support, and initial need for hands-on support) was that she needed a very structured relationship with hands-on supervision. Another clinician requested the structured supervision but it was quickly evident that she required just the minimum supervision supports. It is great to ask though to help you to understand your clinician just a little better.
3. Set Expectations. Be clear and open with your expectations. No one wants to guess what might be coming down the line. If you expect that all MDT or Communication Reports will be sent to you for review until you sign off, then state that. If you expect that you may request an outside assignment such as creating a simple inservice to share with their school staff in an effort to get a better understanding of staff relations and clinician knowledge in a specific area, give your clinician warning ahead of time. If you appreciate them asking questions but expect by the second time answering the same question that you would not be as responsive to a third time asking the same question or if you prefer your clinician to do the research themselves. let your clinician know at the start of your work relationship.
4. Share Knowledge of Materials. Okay, let me preface this by saying tell them about the materials that help you. Do you have a favorite Super Duper item that you use again and again? Are they struggling to keep a group of students engaged in a mixed group and you know of some great TeachersPayTeachers materials that would be helpful? Tell your clinician where to find the resources and how you use the resources. Do not break copyright. But share knowledge of resources that they may find helpful. If you happen to make materials yourself (so many of us do, even if we do not all sell them on TeacherspayTeachers), feel free to share any and all of your own materials that you create. As a new clinician, any materials that you can get your hands on are beneficial and can serve a purpose to help students meet their goals.
5. Be Responsive. Of course you can not drop everything to answer every email or phone call within the 3 minutes of contact being initiated. However, respond as quickly as you can. Do you remember when you just started and a “tough scenario” popped up and you just were not sure how to continue and only had a few minutes to answer a question or respond to the scenario? I still get sweat chills just recalling (then again, I have anxiety issues). Reduce the clinician’s stress and respond at your earliest convenience. Sometimes, the response is as simple as reassuring the clinician that their actions reflect what you also would have done.
6. Learn as Much as You Teach. I strongly believe that we should NEVER stop learning and growing. When we take on the Supervisor role, we have a great responsibility to share our knowledge and experience. However, we also have a great responsibility to remain open-minded. Remember, the new CFY Clinician has had the most up-to-date training on recent evidence based practices. When we approach clinicians with the understanding that it is a reciprocal relationship and not just a “I’m the Expert and Paid My Dues in the Field” boss-lady, it puts everyone at ease and everyone can walk away with just a little bit more knowledge than when the work relationship began.
7. Never Stop Being a Mentor and a Colleague. I can say with a smile that many of my old clinicians are now some of my friends as well as colleagues. I can also be pleased with the fact that to this day, all of them know that at any time they can contact me to ask a question, get some feedback, or bounce ideas off of me. To this day, several years later, they continue to consider me a resource and a mentor. Likewise, I know that as my colleague, I can now do the same and pick their brain for ideas when I need a new perspective.
Need some Survival Forms to help you get through the CFY Supervision Year? I created my own (although, they did not look as pretty as they do now) and if you would like to download them, just enter your information below and I will send them to you.