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Day in a life of a clinic tutor

Many of the British School of Osteopathy's clinic tutors are working practitioners who balance running their own clinics with teaching students. If you are considering applying to be a tutor at the BSO and want to know what a working/teaching lifestyle is like, we have asked two of our tutors to describe a typical day.

Sian Roberts, Clinic Tutor

What made you become a Clinic Tutor?
I wanted to give something back to the organisation that trained me and provided such a rewarding learning experience whilst I was a student. A big part of the appeal of the job for me personally is being in a position to facilitate a nurturing learning environment which enables students to grow and develop their skills as modern practitioners.

What clinic do you work in (general/specialist)?
I work in the general clinic on a Tuesday.

How do you start your day?
The first order of the day is to ensure that the students all know where they need to be and ensure that everyone is correctly attired so as to present a professional image to BSO patients. Schedules and patient lists are checked and teams are briefed on an ongoing basis.

What are the main day to day tasks and responsibilities required of a BSO Clinic Tutor?
The main day to day focus of the job is to ensure a high level of patient care whilst also facilitating a high quality clinical experiential learning environment for students. Quite a balancing act! Individual support for students is crucial, as we treat a broad array of different patients, each with their own presenting symptoms and treatment requirements.

What aspects of the job do you find challenging/rewarding?
The most rewarding aspect of the job is also the most challenging – that of providing individual, tailored support to any student who is struggling and finding an appropriate way of enabling their own learning style to adapt to the demands of the clinical environment. I get a real sense of achievement from seeing students blossom as they progress and develop their professional skills, putting all the theory they have learnt into practice. Seeing the students' confidence in themselves as practitioners grow and grow as they progress through the course for me is a fantastic added bonus of the job.

What types of patients do you treat?
Absolutely anyone – a real cross-section of London's diverse society, from the elderly through to injured sports professionals, from all walks of like and backgrounds. The mix of people I get to interact with alongside the students and the rest of the clinic team on a weekly basis is staggering and a real asset to my own continuing professional development.

How do you aim to help students' develop as clinicians?
The main aim is to develop the student's confidence as they progress through the course, both in terms of provision of treatment and also through professional interaction and conversation with patients. Student osteopaths need to quickly learn how to appropriately convey important and often sensitive information to people in what for many is a compromising situation. This is a crucial skill for the osteopath and one that we work with students to develop from day one.

How do you update and develop your skills as a practitioner?
The BSO clinical environment helps me to do this in so many ways; I have a wealth of experience to drawn upon from amongst my colleagues in the clinical faculty, which greatly benefits my own practice. Similarly the sheer diversity of presenting cases in the BSO clinic provides me (as it also does our students) with a fascinating array of clinical experiences, which I find an invaluable contribution to my own personal osteopathic development. In terms of further professional development, I am looking to take up a place on the BSO's Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Clinical Education course to further inform my clinical teaching.

What advice would you give osteopaths looking to get into clinical teaching?
Seek out clinic teaching experience and educational courses to help develop a firm understanding of the requirements of the role and provide you with strong foundations for becoming a clinical educator in the modern Higher Education arena.

Stuart Walker, Clinic Tutor

What made you become a Clinic Tutor?
I wanted to become a clinic tutor so that I could share with others the enjoyment that I found in studying to be, and working as, an osteopath. In addition I found that I enjoyed sharing my knowledge with my colleagues whilst learning and felt I wanted to continue to develop this skill as a clinic tutor.

What clinic do you work in (general/specialist)?
Mostly in general clinic but I've also worked in The Blanchard Clinic, at Royal Free Hospital and at the East Street Clinic.

How do you start your day?
By ensuring that all the students are present and all the patients are covered. If there are any students running late, ill or absent I work with my colleagues and the other students to ensure that there are no patients left waiting in the reception area.

What are the main day to day tasks and responsibilities required of a BSO Clinic Tutor?
As a clinic tutor we have many, varied responsibilities, some of which require a balancing act by us. We are responsible for supervising the students in their clinical work with members of the public to ensure they are treated safely and effectively. We must also try to provide the students with a safe and supportive environment in which to learn. We try to allow the students as much autonomy as possible to develop their self-confidence whilst encouraging them to adopt a high level of clinical skills and all the while ensuring that the patient is receiving the best possible care.

What aspects of the job do you find challenging/rewarding?
I find it a challenge to be constantly adapting my approach to suit different learning styles, different clinical situations and students at differing levels of skill and competence. I also find it a challenge not to just show and tell the students what I would do in their situation, this would probably lead to them copying my approach; I am trying to get them to think through the problems themselves so they learn more and develop their own skills. It is rewarding to see the students we have helped graduate, join the osteopathic profession and flourish.

What types of patients do you treat?
All types, I work in general practice, I find it more stimulating and rewarding than specialising in one type of patient.

How do you aim to help students develop as clinicians?
By ensuring they have all the tools at their disposal including a safe and supportive clinical environment and approachable tutors who will guide and support as much as required to help them develop themselves as clinicians. I don't believe we make them into clinicians; it is more a process of the student becoming a clinician under their own steam. We merely support this process.

How do you update and develop your skills as a practitioner?
By attending CPD courses, meeting with colleagues, reviewing research papers for the International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine and I'm currently studying on the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic and Clinical Education being run by the BSO.

What advice would you give osteopaths looking to get into clinical teaching?
Ensure that your motives for wanting to teach are well-thought through. For those looking for an 'easy' day out of practice there will be a shock. It uses different parts of your brain and body but is just as challenging as working with patients. The days are long and I'm always exhausted after a day at the BSO clinic. Ensure that you have the empathy required to adjust your approach to supporting developing osteopaths, it is not enough to be a good osteopath, you must also develop your skills as an educator.