How can clinical supervisors prepare future nursing care coordinators?

RuthAnne Kuiper describes how clinical supervisors can inspire and monitor care coordination among nurses, especially when facing complex clinical scenarios

RuthAnne Kuiper describes how clinical supervisors can inspire and monitor care coordination among nurses, especially when facing complex clinical scenarios

Picture: iStock

Nurse leaders such as clinical supervisors work in dynamic healthcare systems that help patients with complex problems. At the same time, they support many levels of healthcare providers by keeping them engaged in their work; promote organisational missions and values; encourage a sense of pride in individual work; create security and trust among colleagues; provide recognition for work well done; and promote skill acquisition in the clinical setting. Research indicates that work engagement is higher among nurses who work for managers who practise authentic leadership strategies and are themselves engaged in their work (Gallup 2017).

Promoting care coordination among nurses as they apply reasoning to complex patient care situations can be challenging. Curtin (2017) stated that leadership involves building ‘moral communities’, where scientific knowledge and value judgements are applied to achieve a goal or purpose towards a moral end as opposed to commercial efficacy.

The clinical supervisor promotes these skills through clinical dialogues, coaching opportunities and supervision sessions, combined with building knowledge and skill acquisition to enhance nursing intelligence (Kuiper et al 2017).  

Key goals of clinical supervision

Webb (1997) noted that clinical supervision establishes situations and formal systems that allow nurses at all levels to practise in a safe and supportive environment, develop thoughts and actions that lead to enhanced care delivery, and enable them to accept accountability for practice development. These qualities are also demonstrated by care coordinators, who can efficiently help patients and families navigate the healthcare system and take control of their personal well-being.

The outcome-present state-test (OPT) model of clinical reasoning can structure clinical supervision by organising the characteristics of each patient and family story, framing situations, looking at the present and outcome states, identifying tests and facilitating judgements.

Organised application and practice of the OPT model of clinical reasoning, combined with complex clinical scenarios and situations, supports the development of the care coordinator by promoting different types of nursing intelligence including academic, practical and successful thinking (Kuiper et al 2017).

Reflection questions

Use of the OPT model of clinical reasoning can guide clinical supervision of care coordination because the thinking strategies used with the model are the techniques of reflection and clinical reasoning. Supervisors can play a critical role in asking questions that stimulate reflection and activate many of the thinking strategies that support clinical reasoning for care coordination in professional practice. The following reflection questions will prompt the clinical supervisor to think about their role in developing future care coordinators (Kuiper et al 2017):

  1. How can coaching and clinical supervision help develop the knowledge, intent, reflection, curiosity, tolerance for ambiguity, self-confidence and professional motivation necessary for clinical reasoning?
  2. What are my images and impressions of, and associations with, the term ‘clinical supervision’?
  3. What are the differences in my mind between coaching and clinical supervision?
  4. What qualities or characteristics of a clinical supervisor do I admire?
  5. To what degree has clinical supervision contributed to my personal or professional development and enhanced my nursing intelligence quotient?
  6. As I review the characteristics of successfully intelligent people with regard to navigating complexity, what strengths and learning needs do I have?
  7. Given the context of clinical supervision, how can I foster successful intelligence if I am the supervisor or if I am the supervisee?



Curtin L (2017) Leadership: making things better. American Nurse Today. 12, 10, 58.

Gallup (2017) The Gallup Q12 Index. (Last accessed: 3 April 2018.)

Kuiper R, O’Donnell S, Pesut JD et al (2017) The Essentials of Clinical Reasoning for Nurses: Using the Outcome-Present-State-Test Model for Reflective Practice. Sigma Theta Tau International Publishing, Indianapolis, IN.

Webb B (1997) Auditing a clinical supervision training program. Nursing Standard. 11, 34, 34-39.

About the author

RuthAnne Kuiper is professor of nursing and coordinator for master's in nursing education, School of Nursing, University of North Carolina Wilmington, United States

This article is for subscribers only