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Medical Student Clinical Supervision Policy | University of Massachusetts Medical School

The following medical student clinical supervision policy is designed to ensure student and patient safety at all times and applies to all clinical learning settings involving patient care (including but not limited to the longitudinal preceptorship program, hospital sessions, required clerkships, sub-internships and electives).

For the purpose of this policy, clinical supervision is defined as an oversight activity provided by a supervising health professional to a student in a clinical setting in which the student is participating in patient care. The supervision of medical student clinical learning experiences must ensure patient and student safety and must be provided throughout required clerkships and other clinical activities by faculty, residents, or licensed independent practitioner.

It is expected that a designated health professional is available for supervision during all times that a student is engaged in patient care activities and that they themselves are credentialed for performing the clinical activity. Supervision may be designated as either direct or indirect:

  • Direct Supervision: the supervising provider is physically present with the student and patient.
  • Indirect Supervision: with direct supervision immediately available – the supervising health professional is physically within the hospital or site of patient care and is immediately available to provide direct supervision if necessary or requeste The means for requesting assistance from the supervisor must be clear to the student.

When a student is involved in the care of the patient, the responsible supervising health professional must provide an appropriate level of supervision. It is the decision of the supervising faculty member as to which activities the student will be allowed to perform. This decision should be based on a variety of factors including the complexity of the patient case or activity, the potential for untoward effects, the student’s level of training, and the demonstrated competence, maturity and responsibility of each student in order to ensure the safety and comfort of the patient. The overriding consideration must be both student safety and the safe and effective care of the patient.

If there is any concern about the level of supervision for a medical student in a clinical environment please report this by contacting the rotation director via email or by directly emailing the UMMS office of student affairs at: studentaffairs@umassmed.edu.

It is the responsibility of the rotation or course director to ensure this policy is received and understood by all site directors and clinical preceptors.

At health care facilities where patient care and the training of health care professionals occur together, there must be clear delineation of responsibilities to ensure that qualified and appropriately privileged practitioners supervise students engaged in patient care. The primary responsibility for the patient is vested with a teaching attending or medical staff member and may not be delegated to a student.


Policy Date: 1/31/2020