Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - FAQ - Supervised practice and the supervised practice framework

FAQ - Supervised practice and the supervised practice framework

 

These frequently asked questions (FAQs) give further guidance for supervisees, supervisors and employers in relation to supervised practice and the Supervised practice framework (framework). Reading the FAQs does not replace the need to read the framework.

Terms in bold are defined in the Definitions section at the end of this document.

The Supervised practice framework

The Supervised practice framework (the framework) provides a responsive and risk-based approach to supervised practice across the National Scheme. The framework supports consistency in processes and decision making and helps supervisees, supervisors and employers understand what is expected of them.

The framework outlines who it applies to, the National Boards’ expectations of supervisees and supervisors, gives guidance on how to comply with supervised practice requirements, and explains what is necessary to effectively carry out and complete supervised practice.

The framework and supporting documents took effect on 1 February 2022. The Board expects all new supervisees and their supervisors to follow the framework from 1 February 2022.

Transition arrangements apply for supervisees and supervisors who were part of a supervised practice arrangement already submitted to Ahpra or the National Board or approved by the National Board before 1 February 2022. See Fact sheet: Supervised practice framework – transition arrangements for more information.

From 1 February 2023, National Boards expect that all supervisees and their supervisors will be following the framework.

This is a firm deadline and documents received after 1 February 2023 that do not comply with the requirements set out in the framework will not be accepted.

The following National Boards use the framework:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice
  • Chinese Medicine
  • Chiropractic
  • Dental
  • Medical (not for international medical graduates, practitioners completing their intern year, or vocational trainees)
  • Medical Radiation Practice1
  • Nursing and Midwifery
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Optometry
  • Osteopathy
  • Paramedicine (not for practitioners with a Board-specific condition employed by and undertaking supervised practice with a body authorised by the National Board)
  • Physiotherapy
  • Podiatry (not for practitioners seeking their endorsement for scheduled medicines).

The Pharmacy and Psychology Boards are not using the framework.


1The Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia (MRPBA) are reviewing the Supervised practice registration standard so the framework will not apply until the review is completed. Please see MRPBA website for more details.

Each National Board previously had its own supervision guidelines. There is now one shared Supervised practice framework for 12 National Boards.

Supervisor experience

Under some previous supervision guidelines, supervisors needed to have a minimum number of years of experience as a practitioner to be eligible to be a supervisor. This is no longer the case as years of experience do not necessarily equate to proficiency.

Instead, the National Boards have adopted a risk-based approach to supervised practice and consider a supervisor’s appropriateness on a case-by-case basis.

The requirements to be a supervisor include:

  • holding general registration and where relevant the appropriate specialist registration or endorsement
  • having relevant experience (including their qualifications, responsibilities and relevant scope of practice)
  • not being subject to supervised practice, or holding registration subject to conditions or undertakings that would impact on their ability to effectively supervise
  • giving a signed and dated curriculum vitae that describes their full practice history, clinical or skills training and any experience or training as a supervisor.

To find out more about the requirements see the framework: Appendix 2- Information for supervisees and Appendix 3 – Information for supervisors.

Supervised practice levels

National Boards previously had different supervision level names and descriptions and some professions only had two supervision levels.

These levels and descriptions have been replaced in the framework by four levels of supervised practice (Direct, Indirect 1, Indirect 2 and Remote) and a description of what is required at each level. These levels are described in the framework at section 5 Levels and in more detail at Appendix 4: Supervised practice levels.

National Boards will only use the supervised practice levels relevant for their profession, therefore some National Boards may not use all the supervised practice levels.

Supervision agreement

Some supervision guidelines previously required supervisees and supervisors to complete a supervision agreement before carrying out supervised practice. This is no longer needed because this information is now collected in the Supervised practice plan template. This change has reduced the amount of paperwork to be done by supervisees and supervisors.

Replacement Supervision guidelines

Some registration standards used by National Boards refer to supervision guidelines. Replacement Supervision guidelines (the guidelines) have been developed to:

  • replace any previously approved supervision guidelines or framework from National Boards, and
  • adopt the framework.

Changes to relevant registration standards to explicitly refer to the framework rather than supervision guidelines will be made at a later date.

 

Cultural safety

The impacts of colonisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples are still affecting health outcomes today. As a result, systemic racism in healthcare settings is common, and leads to barriers to accessing health services, inequitable treatment, workplace prejudice and funding inequity.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners working in healthcare have a right to a workplace, employer, supervisor and supervisee free of racism.

The National Boards worked in partnership with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group who provided expert advice on cultural safety in respect to supervised practice as reflected in the framework see Principles: Culturally safe and respectful practice.

The framework reinforces the commitment of the National Boards to cultural safety and sets the expectation that supervisees and supervisors will practise in a culturally safe way in line with the National Scheme’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy 2020-2025 and codes of conduct that have adopted the National Scheme’s definition of cultural safety and will be included in the upcoming National Law amendments.

For more information about cultural safety including the definition and principles see the framework Definitions.

 

No. The framework does not apply to supervision of students carrying out clinical training in a Board-approved program of study.

 

Supervisors

If you are completing supervised practice because of a registration type or eligibility/suitability requirement you will usually need to nominate a supervisor and prepare a proposed supervised practice arrangement including a supervised practice plan.

If you are completing supervised practice because of a complaint (notification) the details of the supervised practice will be set out in the condition or undertaking.

Ahpra will advise supervisees if they need to nominate a supervisor. Ahpra will also advise supervisees when a supervisor has been pre-chosen by the National Board, which means that the supervisee does not need to nominate a supervisor.


The requirements a supervisor must meet will vary according to the purpose for supervised practice and the risk associated with the role. To find out more about the requirements see the framework: Appendix 2- Information for supervisees, and Appendix 3 – Information for supervisors.

Yes. The National Boards may approve more than one supervisor for supervised practice to support flexibility in the supervised practice arrangement. See Section 4 – Principles – Flexibility of the framework for further information.

Primary supervisors take the main responsibility for the supervisee.

Primary supervisors will develop a supervised practice plan in consultation with the supervisee and will complete the supervised practice reports as required.

Alternate supervisors will carry out the supervised practice if the primary supervisor is not available.

To find out more about these requirements see the framework: Appendix 2- Information for supervisees, and Appendix 3 – Information for supervisors.

In most cases the supervisor will be from the same profession as the supervisee however a National Board may approve practitioners from another profession as a supervisor(s) in exceptional circumstances. This is at the discretion of the National Board.

An example of an exceptional circumstance is when the supervisee is working in a remote area and there are no suitable practitioners from the same profession as the supervisee able to carry out supervised practice at the level of supervised practice required, but there is a suitable practitioner in another profession.

Before making such a decision the National Board will consider the supervisor’s experience and circumstances (including their qualifications, responsibilities, relevant scope of practice) when deciding the requirements of the supervised practice.

National Boards require nominated supervisors to provide in their curriculum vitae, which must be attached to the supervised practice plan, a description of any experience or training they have had as a supervisor. The National Boards do not generally provide supervisor training and recognise that many supervisors may have already accessed training, for example in their workplace, or completed training as a separate qualification.

Supervisor training may be counted as continuing professional development (CPD) if it meets the National Board’s requirements set out in the registration standard for CPD.

Supervisees and supervisors must declare any actual or perceived conflicts of interest that may undermine the supervisor’s role.

The National Board will decide whether any conflict declared can be effectively managed. Disclosing the actual or perceived conflicts of interest does not necessarily mean that the supervisory relationship will be prevented.

The management of conflicts of interest may not involve avoiding certain situations entirely, rather considering ways to manage them.

In this instance, managing conflicts of interest means applying the ‘reasonable person’ test to manage interactions between private or business interests and supervised practice duties. The ‘reasonable person’ test involves exercising sound judgement, taking a sensible approach and considering what another ‘reasonable person’ might do in the same situation.


 

Public register

Yes. Information about your supervised practice is shown on the public register of practitioners as either one, or a combination of, the following, a:

  • registration requirement
  • notation on your registration
  • condition or undertaking recorded on your registration.

Once your required period of supervised practice is finished, you must apply to Ahpra to have the condition, undertaking or notation removed. It is not removed automatically.

Details about how to apply are on the Ahpra website.

 

Supervised practice at multiple sites

You can only carry out supervised practice at multiple sites if these sites have been approved by the relevant National Board. You need to include all supervised practice sites that are to be part of your supervised practice in your supervised practice plan.

If you want to nominate an additional site for your supervised practice that is not already included in your approved sites, you will need to consult the relevant National Board website to see whether your National Board requires you to fill out a change of circumstance form and/or submit a new supervised practice plan.

 

Approval of the supervised practice plan and supervisor(s)

No. You can only start or restart your practice once your supervised practice arrangement has been approved by the National Board.

National Boards make decisions about supervised practice arrangements in different ways depending on the purpose of the supervised practice.

For complaints (notifications), the National Board will impose supervised practice requirements to manage the risk identified.

For all other required supervised practice, the National Board will consider each proposed supervised practice arrangement on its individual merits and will only approve arrangements that it considers safe and fair. In these cases, supervised practice requirements need to be matched to the individual practitioner’s experience, needs and capabilities as well as their employment arrangement and/or practice environment.

The time taken to approve your supervised practice arrangement may vary for reasons such as:

  • the purpose of supervised practice
  • whether all required information has been provided to the National Board
  • whether the proposed supervised practice arrangement, including your nominated supervisor(s), are considered suitable to address your individual supervised practice needs
  • whether the proposed supervised practice arrangement is considered safe and fair.

Ahpra will communicate with you about this approval process, including if all required information has been provided.

Yes. A proposed supervised practice arrangement may be considered unsuitable for reasons such as the:

  • proposed level of supervised practice is not adequate for the level of risk associated with practice
  • supervised practice plan is missing information or is not detailed, e.g. does not address the entry-level practice competency standards
  • frequency or details of reporting are inadequate
  • nominated supervisor(s) does not meet supervisor requirements e.g. they do not have the relevant registration, experience, or have conditions on their registration that impact on their ability to supervise
  • frequency of the discussions and meetings between the supervisee and supervisor is inadequate, or
  • the National Board requires further information.

If a supervised practice arrangement is not approved by the National Board, feedback will be provided to the supervisee and/or the supervisor.

 

Change of circumstances

If your supervision arrangement was submitted to Ahpra or the National Board or approved by the National Board before 1 February 2022 you need to check the Fact sheet: Supervised practice framework - transition arrangements for information on what to do if you need to change the details of your supervision arrangement.

If your supervised practice arrangement was approved by a National Board after 1 February 2022 and your supervised practice arrangement complies with the requirements set out in the framework then you need to check the relevant National Board website to see whether you need to fill out a change of circumstance form. You may also be required to submit a new proposed supervised practice arrangement for the National Board to consider.

If you cannot practise according to the approved supervised practice arrangement you must stop practising.

 

Rural and remote

National Boards will take this into account when considering a proposed supervised practice arrangement. The framework has a risk-based approach and is designed to allow consideration of supervised practice arrangements on a case by case basis to ensure flexibility while maintaining public safety.

 

Special circumstances

The National Board will consider each proposed supervised practice arrangement on its individual merits and will only approve arrangements that it considers safe and fair.

 

Progression though supervised practice levels

Progression through supervised practice levels is needed for some purposes of supervised practice.

The expected amount of time at each level of supervised practice and approval for progression between the supervised practice levels, may vary depending on the purpose of the supervised practice and profession specific requirements.

More details may be provided in your supervised practice arrangement approved by the National Board or on the relevant National Board website.

 

The costs to do supervised practice may vary. It is the supervisee’s responsibility to bear any costs associated with the supervised practice arrangement, such as payment to a supervisor, if applicable. Ahpra and the National Board cannot give you advice about paying a supervisor.

 

Problems in the workplace

It is important to address any issues at the workplace promptly to make sure that the supervised practice outcomes are achieved and not compromised.

It is recommended that you speak to your supervisor or employer to resolve any issues, particularly if you are concerned with how the supervised practice arrangement is carried out, for example if you don’t feel you are receiving enough supervision.

If you have raised your concerns about your supervised practice arrangement at your workplace and the concerns have not been sufficiently addressed, then you can contact us via a web enquiry form or call 1300 419 495 for support. Please note that advice on industrial relations matters such as pay disputes, cannot be given by Ahpra.

 

Volunteer or unpaid work

You can only practise within the elements of the supervised practice arrangement approved by the National Board, which includes the approved supervisor(s), supervised practice level, workplace and any other requirements set out in a supervised practice plan (where necessary) or as stated in a condition or undertaking or registration standard.

You should also be aware that if you are practising in a voluntary position, you are still required to have appropriate professional indemnity insurance (PII) arrangements in place. Some voluntary organisations will have PII arrangements which cover their volunteers’ activities. If you hold your own PII arrangements, you should check that these cover any practice you do as voluntary work. If your PII arrangements are provided by your employer, and you intend to practise outside your stated employment (e.g. volunteer work), you must have individual PII arrangements in place to cover that practice.

Yes. You should refer to the National Board’s registration standard on PII on the relevant National Boards website.

 

Compliance with the framework

If you know you will not be able to comply with the approved supervised practice arrangement or framework, you need to let Ahpra know as soon as possible and within seven (7) calendar days or as stated in the condition or undertaking.

If you do not practise in accordance with the framework and the supervised practice arrangement, the National Board may take regulatory action against you under the National Law. The circumstances in which you practised outside of the supervised practice arrangement will be considered by the National Board when making this decision. Any provision of care, including in an emergency should be given in accordance with the relevant National Board’s code of conduct.

 

Definitions

Approved program of study: means programs of study approved by the relevant National Board.

Student:  as defined in the framework means a student enrolled in a Board approved program of study.

Supervised practice:  in this framework means a mechanism to give the National Board the assurance that the supervisee  is practising safely, competently and ethically for a range of regulatory purposes. Supervised practice may be direct, indirect or remote according to the nature in which the practice is being supervised.

Supervisee:  is a registered health practitioner who is required to carry out a period of supervised practice. The supervisee practises under the supervision of a National Board-approved supervisor with a level of supervised practice outlined in the supervised practice arrangement or relevant condition/undertaking. Refer to Appendix 2 - Information for supervisees for further information. 

Supervisor:  is a registered health practitioner who is approved by the relevant National Board to supervise another registered health practitioner for a specified period. The supervisor needs to have the qualifications, skills, knowledge, experience and availability required for this role. Refer to Appendix 3 - Information for supervisors for further information.

Supervised practice arrangement:  in this framework means all the elements of supervised practice approved by the National Board, which include the approved supervisor(s), supervised practice level, objectives, workplace, and any other requirements documented in a supervised practice plan (where necessary) or as stated in a condition or undertaking or registration standard. 

Supervised practice plan:  in this framework is the form approved by the National Board in which the supervisee  and supervisor  acknowledge and confirm they will carry out and comply with the requirements of supervised practice contained in the framework and reflected in the supervised practice arrangement.

Supervised practice level:  means the levels as set out in the framework Refer to Appendix 4 – Supervised practice levels for further information. 

 
 
 
Page reviewed 1/02/2022