Can a Novel approach to Clinical Supervision for junior Dietitians improve department capacity and functionality?

Ms Karen Edis1, Ms Fiona Turnbull1

1Peninsula Health, Frankston, Australia


Aim: To explore whether structured competency-based buddy partnerships for junior Dietitians over six months can improve department capacity and functionality.

Method: A mixed methods study design was employed using both in-depth group interviews to explore Dietitians experiences with the partnerships in conjunction with a review of two assessment pieces: a pre and post self-rated confidence questionnaire using a series of aspects related to a clinical case; and a post program assessment of competence by a senior Dietitian.

Results: Seven junior Dietitians participated completing a total of 11 partnerships. The in depth interview participants included junior Dietitians (six), senior Dietitians (seven) and senior operational Dietitians (four). The main themes that emerged from the in-depth group interviews were ‘improved department functionality’ supported by the pre and post self-rated confidence questionnaire indicating  improvements in 91% of partnerships and ‘development of junior and senior dietetic staff’ supported by the post partnership assessment of competence where 91% successfully achieved competence. A tendency between junior dietitian self-rated confidence and their final assessment of competence was also found.

Significance of the findings to allied health: This study suggests a structured competency-based buddy partnership can improve departmental capacity and functionality and supports the use of clinical supervision within the Dietetics profession utilising this novel approach. Larger studies are required to confirm the applicability of our results to other departments and to explore the adaptability of a structured competency-based buddy partnership.


Karen Edis BSc. Hons, Grad Dip Dietetics

Karen is currently Head of Nutrition & Dietetics at Peninsula Health a role she has held for nine years. Karen has 30 years’ experience working as a Dietitian. During this time she has worked in public and private sector health services both as a clinician and at a management level. This included seven years at the International Diabetes Institute where she had the opportunity to work within the Koorie Diabetes Service and Business Development unit undertaking educational programs with the Aboriginal community, project management, business and product development with the corporate sector and presentations at a national and international level. In her current role Karen has been responsible for leading work at an organisational level for National Safety and Quality Health Service Standard 2 Partnering with Consumers, Diversity, Consumer Participation and the Allied Health Leadership team.