Supervision Glossary

Supervision Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations – Updated 2020

In developing guidance, we have encountered variations in the terminology used in both supervision and advanced clinical practice.

There are a variety of terms, interpretations and understandings of the language used. We have used terminology and abbreviations as follows:

Advanced Clinical Practice Advanced Clinical Practice:

A defined level of practice within clinical professions such as nursing, pharmacy, paramedics and occupational therapy. This level of practice is designed to transform and modernise pathways of care. Enabling the safe and effective sharing of skills across traditional professional boundaries. NHS England Definition. It is acknowledged that in some healthcare settings, the terms ‘advanced practice’ and ‘advanced practitioner’ are preferred.

Advanced Clinical Practitioners:

Healthcare professionals, educated to Master’s level or equivalent with the skills and knowledge to allow them to expand their scope of practice to better meet the needs of the people they care for. ACPs are deployed across all healthcare settings and work at a level of advanced clinical practice that pulls together the four Advanced Clinical Practice pillars of clinical practice, leadership and management, education and research. NHS England Definition

Developing Advanced Clinical Practitioner/Trainee:

An experienced practitioner from a variety of registered professions such as nursing, pharmacy, and allied health professionals such as paramedic, physiotherapy and occupational therapy who is engaged in a period of Master’s level academic and workplace/practice development to expand and augment their scope of practice to an advanced clinical practice level. The term Trainee Advanced Clinical Practitioner is established in some settings and in others the term Developing Advanced Clinical Practitioner is preferred to distinguish the practitioner from post-graduate medical trainees. To acknowledge this variation, we have adopted the hybrid ‘Developing Advanced Clinical Practitioner/Trainee’ in this publication.

To avoid conflating the notions of advanced clinical practice (a level of practice) and that of advanced clinical practitioner (an individual working at the level of advanced clinical practice) the abbreviation ACP has not been used in this guidance.

Competence and Capability Competence:

To consistently perform to defined standards required in the workplace, usually focused on the outputs of work and observable performance. Competence tends to describe practice in stable environments with familiar problems. Skills for Health Definition


The ability to be competent, and beyond this, to work effectively in situations which may be complex and require flexibility and creativity. Skills for Health Definition

Supervision and Supervisors in Healthcare

A review of published literature and guidance reveals there are very many definitions of the terms Supervision and Supervisor.

Clinical Supervision:

Clinical supervision provides an opportunity for healthcare practitioners to reflect on and review their clinical practice, discuss individual cases in depth and identify changes or modifications to practice which are required to maintain professional and public safety. It provides an opportunity to identify training and continuing development needs. CQC (2013)

Professional Supervision:

Professional supervision is often interchangeable with clinical supervision or as an overarching term to include both clinical and managerial aspects of supervision. The CQC (2013) suggest the term is sometimes used where supervision is carried out by another member of the same profession or group, providing the practitioner with opportunities to review professional standards, keep up to date with profession-specific developments, training and continuing development, ensure compliance with professional codes of conduct and boundaries.

Managerial Supervision:

Managerial Supervision and line management maybe used interchangeably. The CQC (2013) suggest managerial supervision is provided by someone with authority and accountability for the supervisee. It provides the opportunity for performance review, setting priorities/ objectives in line with the organisation’s objectives and service needs and identifying training and continuing development needs.

Supervision and Supervisors for Advanced Clinical Practice Development/Training Co-ordinating Education Supervisor:

A registered healthcare professional who provides a consistent supervisory relationship throughout the practitioner’s advanced clinical practice development; guiding the practitioner’s development from uni-professional to hybrid advanced clinical practice level. The supervisor will not necessarily hold the same professional registration as the developing advanced clinical practitioner/trainee but will be experienced in supervision and in the relevant field of advanced clinical practice. The role is similar to that of the Education Supervisor in medical training but in advanced clinical practice development, takes account of the potential for supervisor and supervisee to hold different professional registrations.

Associate Workplace Supervisor:

Associate Workplace Supervisors are practice-based practitioners who are experienced in practice-based education and the supervision of experienced registered professionals. The developing advanced clinical practitioner/trainee can expect to work with a variety of Associate Workplace Supervisors, each matched to support the development of the specific, identified aspects of advanced clinical practice capability and/or competence against the pillars of advanced clinical practice. As such, an associate workplace supervisor may be identified because they are matched to supervise clinical, education, leadership/management or research aspects of the practitioner’s advanced clinical practice development.

Other terms used in Centre for Advancing Practice supervision guidance:

Pillars of advanced clinical practice:

NHS England sets out capabilities for advanced clinical practice in relation to four core pillars: clinical practice, leadership and management, education and research. These may be manifested/demonstrated in different ways depending on the profession, role, population group, setting and sector in which an individual is practising.

Practice Demands:

In this guidance the phrase ‘practice demands’ is used to refer collectively to all the advanced clinical practice expectations in relation to the four pillars: clinical, education, leadership and management, research.

Practitioner permeability:

Practitioner permeability is used in this guidance to refer to a collection of behaviours and characteristics which support both supervisor and supervisee to expect, anticipate and seek to resolve uncertainties and concerns which are encountered in the course of day-to-day practice. These behaviours and characteristics are: self-awareness, awareness of and for others, awareness-sharing, feedback-seeking, openness to alternatives, critical awareness and willingness to change/learning disposition. Permeability supports practitioners to recognise the relationships between uncertainty, learning and the maintenance of professional and public safety.


Akin to ‘sign-off’ in some uni-professional contexts this refers to the process of verifying a practitioner’s level of practice and capability

Abbreviations used in Centre for Advancing Practice supervision guidance

AHP Allied Health Profession(al)

COPMeD Conference of the Postgraduate Medical Deans of the United Kingdom

CQC Care Quality Commission

FICM Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine

GPhC General Pharmaceutical Council

HCPC Health and Care Professions Council

HEI Higher Education Institution

NHSE NHS England

NHSI NHS Improvement

NMC Nursing and Midwifery Council

RCEM Royal College of Emergency Medicine