Background: In order to consolidate their educational knowledge and skills and develop their educational role, many clinicians undertake professional development in clinical education and supervision. It is well established that these educationally-focussed professional development activities have a positive impact. However, it is less clear what factors within the clinical workplace can shape how health professionals may use and apply their educational knowledge and skills and undertake their educational role. Looking through the lens of workplace affordances, this paper draws attention to the contextual, personal and interactional factors that impact on how clinical educators integrate their educational knowledge and skills into the practice setting, and undertake their educational role. Methods: Data were gathered via a survey of 387 clinical educators and semi-structured interviews with 12 clinical educators and 6 workplace managers. In this paper, we focus on analysing and reporting the qualitative data gathered in this study. This qualitative data were subject to a thematic analysis and guided by theoretical constructs related to workplace affordances. Results: Three key themes were identified including contextual, personal and interactional factors. Contextual elements referred to organisational structures and systems that impact on participants' educational role, how participants' clinical education role was articulated and configured within the organisation, and how the organisation shaped the educational opportunities available to clinicians. Personal factors encompassed clinicians' personal motivations and goals to teach and be involved in education, develop their own educational skills and function as a role model for students. Interactional factors referred to the professional interactions and networks through which clinicians shared their educational knowledge and skills and further consolidated their profile as educational advocates in their workplace. Conclusions: There are a number of contextual, personal and interactional factors which interrelate in complex ways and impact on how clinical educators use their educational knowledge and skills and undertake their educational role in the clinical setting. To fully realise the potential of and fulfil the requirements of their educational role, clinical educators need to be provided appropriate experiential and meaningful workplace opportunities and the guidance to use, share and reflect on their educational knowledge and skills in the clinical workplace.
- Clinical education
- Clinical educators
- Educationally-focussed professional development
- Workplace affordances