The clinical educator and complexity: a review

Adrianus Schoo, Koshila Kumar

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Complexity science perspectives have helped in examining fundamental assumptions about learning and teaching in the health professions. The implications of complexity thinking for how we understand the role and development of the clinical educator is less well articulated. This review article outlines: the key principles of complexity science; a conceptual model that situates the clinical educator in a complex system; and the implications for the individual, organisation and the system. Key findings: Our conceptual model situates the clinical educator at the centre of a complex and dynamic system spanning four domains and multiple levels. The four domains are: personal (encompassing personal/professional needs and expectations); health services (health agencies and their consumers); educational (educational institutions and their health students); and societal (local community/region and government). The system also comprises: micro or individual, meso or organisational, and macro or socio-political levels. Conclusion: Our model highlights that clinical educators are situated within a complex system comprising different agents and connections. It emphasises that individuals, teams and organisations need to recognise and be responsive to the unpredictability, interconnectedness and evolving nature of this system. Importantly, our article also calls for an epistemological shift from faculty development to capacity building in health professions education, aimed at developing individual, team, organisational and system capabilities to work with(in) complexity. Clinical educators are situated within a complex system comprising different agents and connections.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)287-293
    Number of pages7
    JournalThe Clinical Teacher
    Issue number4
    Early online date2018
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


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