Field epidemiology training programmes in the Asia-Pacific: what is best practice for supervision?
Introduction: Field epidemiology training programmes (FETPs) emphasize competency-based training and learning by doing. Supervision of FETP trainees is critical for programmes to achieve learning outcomes. We sought to address a knowledge gap regarding what constitutes effective FETP supervision.
Methods: We investigated FETP supervision using a mixed-methods approach. Quantitative data were collected through a survey of FETP directors. Qualitative data included written feedback from the survey and a focus group discussion (FGD) conducted with FETP supervisors at the 8th South-East Asia and Western Pacific Bi-regional TEPHINET Conference. FGD questions focused on effective supervisory qualities and activities and challenges to effective supervision. We calculated descriptive statistics for quantitative data and analysed qualitative data using a deductive content analysis approach.
Results: Eleven FETP directors responded to the survey and 23 participated in the FGD. Overall, supervision was seen as very important for trainee outcomes. Participants identified the different roles of academic and field supervisors but emphasized the importance of an enabling and supporting attitude towards trainees. Soft skills and interpersonal abilities were among the most important qualities identified for effective supervision. Key challenges identified included a lack of consistency in supervisors’ technical knowledge and the difficulty of finding candidate supervisors with sufficient interest, availability and motivation for supervision.
Discussion: Several practical recommendations arose from this study for supervision in FETPs, including recruiting and training supervisors with a more holistic range of skills. Our findings also provide key points for current FETP supervisors to consider to improve their own practice.
Gregg MB. Field epidemiology. Second ed: Oxford University Press, USA; 2002.
World Health Organization. International Health Regulations (2005): IHR monitoring and evaluation framework. World Health Organization; 2018.
United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Field Epidemiology Training Program Development Handbook. Georgia, United States of America; 2006.
Thacker SB, Dannenberg AL, Hamilton DH. Epidemic intelligence service of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 50 years of training and service in applied epidemiology. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2001;154(11):985-92.
Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Inteventions Network (TEPHINET). Welcome to TEPHINET 2018 [Available from: http://www.tephinet.org/].
Ethiopia Field Epidemiology Training Program. Manual for Field Supervisors and Mentors. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; 2012.
Davila EP, Suleiman Z, Mghamba J, Rolle I, Ahluwalia I, Mmbuji P, et al. Non-communicable disease training for public health workers in low-and middle-income countries: lessons learned from a pilot training in Tanzania. International health. 2014;7(5):339-47.
World Health Organization Regional Office for the Western Pacific. Third Workshop on Field Epidemiology Training Programmes: Opportunities to Strengthen International Collaboration. Manila, Philippines; 2012.
Kilminster S, Cottrell D, Grant J, Jolly B. AMEE Guide No. 27: Effective educational and clinical supervision. Medical teacher. 2007;29(1):2-19.
Kilminster S, Jolly B, Vleuten Cvd. A framework for effective training for supervisors. Medical teacher. 2002;24(4):385-9.
Tynjälä P. Perspectives into learning at the workplace. Educational research review. 2008;3(2):130-54.
Liamputtong P, Ezzy D. Qualitative research methods: Oxford university press Melbourne; 2005.
Kilminster S, Jolly B. Effective supervision in clinical practice settings: a literature review. Medical education. 2000;34(10):827-40.
Lee AM. Developing effective supervisors: Concepts of research supervision. South African Journal of Higher Education. 2007;21(4):680-93.
Lee A, Dennis C, Campbell P. Nature's guide for mentors. Nature. 2007;447(7146):791.
Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network (TEPHINET). Accreditation of FETPs Minimum Indicators and Standards. 2018.
Kirkpatrick DL. Evaluating training programs: Evidence vs. proof. Training Dev J. 1977.
Soliman AS, Chamberlain RM. Short-and Long-Term Outcomes of Student Field Research Experiences in Special Populations. Journal of Cancer Education. 2016;31(2):328-37.