1.9 Supervision of Medical Students in Clinical Settings Policy

The University of Washington School of Medicine (UWSOM) recognizes and supports the importance of graded and progressive responsibility in medical student education.  UWSOM also recognizes and prioritizes the safety of patients, students and other healthcare providers.  Medical student supervision is designed and implemented in a manner that optimally protects the safety of patients, students and other healthcare providers.   

This policy outlines the requirements to be followed when supervising UWSOM medical students.   

For clinical clerkships, it is the shared responsibility of the department chair, respective clerkship or course director, clerkship site director and supervising faculty members to assure that the specifications of this policy are followed. 

This policy is distributed annually, at a minimum, to all faculty, residents, fellows and others who teach, work with or supervise UWSOM medical students in clinical settings.  It is also distributed to UWSOM medical students through the M.D. Program Handbook and is posted on the medical education program’s policy website.

Supervisor Qualifications and Prerequisites

  • UWSOM medical students must be supervised by physicians and non-physicians with a regular, clinical or affiliate faculty appointment at UWSOM or who are directly overseen in their teaching role by a physician with a UWSOM regular, clinical or affiliate faculty appointment.   
  • Students may also be supervised by a resident or fellow who is training in a graduate medical education program at or associated with UWSOM and who is overseen in their teaching role by a physician with a UWSOM regular, clinical or affiliate faculty appointment. 
  • Supervisors are expected to have the appropriate certification for their practice and specialty. 
  • Supervisors must know the relevant clerkship’s learning objectives and required clinical encounters in order to supervise medical students.   
  • Supervision by physicians and non-physicians must be within scope of practice of the supervising physicians and/or non-physicians charged with supervision.   
  • In situations where the student interacts directly with allied health professionals (physician assistants, nurse practitioners, etc.), the supervisor and/or clerkship site director is responsible for ensuring that the allied health professional is appropriately credentialed or functioning under the supervision of a credentialed faculty member and is performing tasks that are within their scope of practice. 
  • The supervisor must have reviewed and adhere to the UW Medicine Policy on Professional Conduct.

Delegation of Responsibility to Students

  • The level of responsibility delegated to students by the supervisor must be appropriate to the student’s level of training. 
  • Students must be supervised at all times, with the student’s supervisor either physically present in the same room with the student and patient(s) or within a distance that permits ready availability to the student and patient(s).   
  • The supervisor will teach the student in such a manner that the student’s responsibilities may gradually increase as their knowledge, competence, and experience grows. 

Feedback to Students about Clinical Skills and Performance

  • Supervisors must monitor the student’s performance on an ongoing basis throughout the course or clerkship. 
    • Supervision is designed to provide formative constructive feedback to students in an ongoing manner and summative feedback at the end of assignments. 
  • Formative feedback is provided, at a minimum, at course/clerkship mid-points and early enough in the course/clerkship for the student to make corrections prior to summative assessment, 
  • The supervisor must notify the clerkship or course director immediately if serious academic or professional gaps in student performance exist.   

Student Responsibilities Related to Supervision

  • Students must have obtained the appropriate certifications to participate in clinical activities. 
  • Students must seek assistance if faced with a medical circumstance beyond their skill level or comfort. 
  • Students should not perform aspects of a history, physical examination, or a procedural skill that they believe they are not yet ready for or are too fatigued to perform, even in the presence of faculty supervision.  
  • Students are strongly encouraged to voice any concerns about the adequacy of their clinical supervision to their residents, faculty, clerkship directors, clerkship site directors, Director of the Learning Environment, College mentor, the Associate Dean for Curriculum or Associate Dean for Student Affairs.  


Effective: Current
Last updated: June 11, 2020
Policy Contact: UW School of Medicine, Director of Regional Affairs, miranda2@uw.edu; Education Quality Improvement Office, eqi@uw.edu