They do tell you a lot. Supporting staff who support Medical Students

Project Details

Health professional education has always valued clinical experience as being fundamental to producing competent and work ready graduates. This apprenticeship model of work integrated learning is part of the culture of medical and other health professions. Yet there has been relatively little research and evidence regarding the factors which lead to effective learning in complex and busy health care settings.


This project addresses the national priority areas of clinical supervision and patient safety  (Health Workforce Australia 2012a) by using a rigorous and scholarly approach to research and develop an evidence based intervention for an under-researched group– the clinical teachers and support staff who deliver workplace based training to medical and other health professional students. Our pilot research has shown that staff are likely to benefit from a training model that builds communities of practice with peers and mentors. Extending this pilot to a different setting will enhance the transferability of the research and any resources which are developed. The resources will be disseminated in workshops, scholarly papers and presentations and made available to interested parties to build a broader network of health professional educators. The need to better support stressed and underperforming health professional students who may negatively impact on the safety and quality of care is universal. This project will provide an opportunity to develop and share knowledge about supporting students in clinical teaching sites across Australia and beyond.

The project Aims were:

  • To expand the knowledge base on the work of providing support to medical and other students by clinical teaching and support staff in healthcare settings.
  • To analyse the education and training needs of teachers and staff who support students.
  • To develop, test and evaluate an educational intervention and resources in health professional student support


  • Associate Professor Eleanor Flynn
  • Associate Professor Robyn Woodward-Kron


Professor Wendy Hu , Head of Medical Education University of Western Sydney


"They do tell you a lot". Supporting Staff who Support Medical Students. ACEN Research Grant with Professor Wendy Hu and Associate Professor Robyn Woodward-Kron. 2012 $10,000

"They do tell you a lot". Supporting Staff who Support Medical Students. ANZAHPE Research Grant with Professor Wendy Hu and Associate Professor Robyn Woodward-Kron, $2,200

Research Outcomes

Development of Resource, including film clips and workshop plans, available for any staff wanting to run a workshop on the topic of student support

Research Publications

Hu, W. C. Y., Flynn, E., Mann, R., & Woodward-Kron, R. (2016). From paperwork to parenting: experiences of professional staff in student support. Medical Education, 51(3), 290–301. doi:10.1111/medu.13143

Flynn, E., Woodward-Kron, R., & Hu, W. (2015). Training for staff who support students. The Clinical Teacher, 13(1), 63–68. doi:10.1111/tct.12392

Research Group

Student Engagement and Experience

Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology

School Research Themes

Critical Care

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Medical Education

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