Hi SLP friends!
Today I wanted to chat about 3 ways to become a better CF supervisor. Now if you are a CF listening or you think one day you might be asked, I still want you to listen to this because it’s good information in general.
Want to hear this in audio format? Check out this in podcast format HERE.
One thing I do want to say is that I don’t want the feedback of this episode to become a debate about whether or not you are paid or not paid as a supervisor and how that affects how you supervise. Because it shouldn’t. You have a duty to that CF and your profession. Being a supervisor is a big deal. You are responsible for molding and shaping that clinician as they begin their career. So whether or not we are getting paid or whether or not we should be getting paid is not your focus. The CF is your focus. So I just wanted to get that out the way because I already know a lot of people are going to be thinking of that while reading.
Let me start by saying being a supervisor is one of my absolute favorite things to do, one of my favorite parts of my job. CFs are fresh out of college, they are eager, excited, all while being absolutely clueless and confused. And the fact that I get to play a part of helping them learn and grow as a clinician is really stinking cool.
Today I am going to focus on 3 key factors:
1. Set expectations
Just like we do with our clients, we have to set expectations with our new CF. They haven’t done this before. They don’t know what to expect. All they may or may not have read is ASHA’s piece of paper on reporting hours. So talk about it. What do you expect of them and what can they expect from you. Who is keeping track of hours and meetings and phone calls and report writing time. Again, you may think its an obvious answer but it helps just to verbally put it out there so that everyone is on the same page. Then talk about expectations related to the amount of support the CF will want and need. Talk about the direct supervision, the indirect supervision, how they should contact you.
2. Be available
I know it seems silly but ask yourself, are you truly available to your CF and do they FEEL like you are available. This goes into how you set your expectations up to. How are you available, when are you available? Should they text you, email you, call you, what’s the protocol? Do they feel like they can ask you questions? Now I do tell all my CFs that first, I want you to try to figure it out, whether you need to google, research, whatever it may be, and then come to me. But I also tell them that I’m always available. I WANT them to ask questions. That’s the whole point of me. If they aren’t asking questions and learning, they aren’t growing. So I do tend to have a lot of communication, probably more so than a typical CF-supervisor relationship but honestly, that’s the biggest positive feedback I get AND I truly watch them grow because of it.
3. Give constructive criticism
Now personally, I like constructive criticism. Again, it’s the only way you can grow. It used to bug me so much in school and when I first started out when I was observed and would ask after the session how I did and what I could work on, they would just say, “oh no, it was great. Great job.” And I would think like no, no one is perfect, no one knows everything no matter how long you’re doing this. Like tell me what I can work on! And you know that’s exactly what I tell my CFs before the first observation I ever do. Again, I set those expectations. I say, look, I am going to be writing notes throughout your session but don’t let that freak you out. It’s not only going to be about things you can work on, but things you are doing great with, and also just general observations about the client. So I do. I write A LOT. I always have a notebook with me. But there’s just so many teachable moments during a session and so many observations and critically thinking moments about a client that can happen just from observing. Things that are hard in the moment when you’re actively seeing a client. Or if the CF had questions about certain things with a client, I can be an outsider’s perspective. Then after the session, we talk about everything. We can talk about any observations I had, we talk about the things they did great and what I want them to keep doing, and then I make suggestions. Like hey when such and such happened, try this way and see what happens or see if that helps. And then I let them ask any questions they have. But a lot of times when giving this constructive criticism turns into eye opening revelations. I hear so often, wow that’s a great idea or I didn’t think of it that way, or I didn’t realize I was doing that. And those little things that we teach along the way, by the last direct observation you do, you’ll see them making that change, listening and taking the advice you gave, and turning into a better clinician. And that’s pretty darn cool if you ask me. And I mean think about it, once they are finished with their CF, you don’t know if they will have continued support wherever they work. I want to know that I adequately prepared them to be confident and do this on their own. Because it’s not just about that CF if you think about, its alllll the future clients they are treating. You are influencing that to.
So again, my big 3: set those expectations from the beginning, be available, and provide constructive criticism. I hope this was helpful and gives you a new perspective of reminds you of the importance of your role as a supervisor.
Now, if you are reading this and you are currently a CF or one day will be a CF, I want you to take this advice but from your angle. And I wish you all the best in your clinical fellowship year!