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Project/Attachment Supervisors

Before its responsibilities were taken over by the General Medical Council, the Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board (2009) defined the clinical supervisor (the clinical equivalent of a public health project/attachment supervisor) as

“A trainer who is selected and appropriately trained to be responsible for overseeing a specified trainee’s clinical work and providing constructive feedback during a training placement. Some training schemes appoint an educational supervisor for each placement. The roles of clinical and educational supervisor may then be merged.”

The educational supervisor may from time to time consider it more suitable for a trainee to work with someone else who has specific abilities relevant to particular learning outcomes needed by a trainee, This project supervisor is identified clearly by the education supervisor as the person capable of carrying out the level of supervision for the project required by the trainee (1.2). The project supervisor may or may not have been trained as an educational supervisor and may not be qualified as a specialist in public health. This could, for example, be someone working in the local authority, community development, in management or be someone with particular health promotion skills or experience in leadership. In these situations, the person supervising the trainee’s work becomes the project supervisor. The Educational Supervisor will need to construct a learning agreement where the purpose of the attachment and the learning outcomes to be achieved are set out and these need to be agreed with the project supervisor.

The Project Supervisor needs to

  • Understand how the work the trainee fits with the overall training undertaken by the trainee
  • Be clear about the learning outcomes to be achieved and what the success criteria are
  • Understand their role as a project supervisor.
  • Have time allocated to carry out this role (1.3)
  • Be happy to work to the agreed learning contract
  • Understand and be able to use the assessment methods to be used
  • Ensure that the pieces of work build professional confidence and self esteem (6.11)
  • Provide supervision for the trainee giving regular constructive feedback
  • Be accessible by the trainee at any time required by the project (1.3)
  • Have some experience in training and supervision of projects.


As indicated by the Faculty, the Project/Attachment Supervisor will:

  • Meet with trainee and educational supervisor in advance of the attachment, discussing the potential learning opportunities available and agreeing the general aims and objectives to be met during the proposed attachment;
  • Discuss the trainee's learning needs in relation to the specific attachment and agreeing priorities within these, taking account of other commitments the trainee may have e.g. preparing for the MFPH examinations, teaching commitments etc. It is desirable that the educational supervisor should also have an input at this stage;
  • Negotiate the specifics of a written learning contract with the trainee for that particular attachment that can also be agreed with the Educational Supervisor. Advice from an academic tutor would be sought if needed.
  • Agree and schedule regular review meetings of sufficient length (perhaps 1 hour) in order to monitor and assess progress towards achieving the agreed aims and objectives;
  • Ensure that the trainee is given responsibility for undertaking specific tasks e.g. carrying out a study, preparing and presenting the findings or reports appropriate to his/her level/stage of training and abilities;
  • Encourage, support and provide constructive feedback to the trainee on specific tasks;
  • Identify gaps in the trainee's general experience or specific subject areas and also flag up when certain tasks or activities have ceased to have further meaningful training value. The project supervisor and trainee should then discuss the matter with the educational supervisor and agree the action to be taken;
  • Review with the trainee at the end of the attachment with the trainee how the attachment had been for both the trainee and the project supervisor and write a brief note summarising key points. The academic tutor may also have an input to the review process if appropriate. This should be copied to the Educational Supervisor.

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