This website was developed as part of the UNSW BLAST (Blended Learning Approach to Supervisor Training) project.

 

What is BLAST?

BLAST (Blended Learning Approach to Supervisor Training) is a project that aims to develop an innovative teaching program based on blended learning principles that will improve supervisory and teaching capabilities of clinical supervisors, which in turn could lead to improved student outcomes. 

 

Who is involved in BLAST?

The BLAST is led by Dr Joel Rhee at the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW Medicine. Other members of the team include:

  • Dr Kirsten Challinor, UNSW Optometry; 
  • Dr Kylie Vuong, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW Medicine;
  • Dr Mark Braidwood, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW Medicine;
  • Dr Winston Lo, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW Medicine;
  • Dr Chinthaka Balasooriya, UNSW Medicine;
  • Dr Rachel Ward, School of Medical Sciences, UNSW Medicine;
  • Ms Caroline Thornton, UNSW Medicine;
  • Ms Diane Vukelic, UNSW Medicine;
  • Prof Nicholas Zwar, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW Medicine;
  • Dr Chinthaka Balasooriya, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW Medicine;
  • Dr Arvin Damodaran, UNSW Medicine;
  • Dr Rachel Thompson, UNSW Medicine;
  • Ms Sonal Bhalla, Learning and Teaching UNSW;
  • Dr Ashwin Garg, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW Medicine;
  • Dr Aditya Vyas, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW Medicine.

Other contributors to BLAST include:

  • Dr Renee Lim, Pam McLean Centre, University of Sydney;
  • A/Prof Ute Vollmer-Conner, School of Psychiatry, UNSW Medicine;
  • Ms Kathleen Watt, UNSW Optometry Clinic.

What led to the development of BLAST?

The development of BLAST is due to the convergence of three separate but related developments at UNSW.

 

1. The School of Public Health and Community Medicine (SPHCM) at UNSW has been running a clinical supervisor development program for many years. This program consists of an annual face-to-face workshop that takes place on a Saturday afternoon. The workshop usually has a keynote lecture by an invited speaker and a more interactive group work session in which supervisors are able to share their experience and ideas with their peers. Although attendance is generally good, we have found that the same group of supervisors turn up each year. Many supervisors find it difficult to attend, for many reasons - e.g. because they live or work far away (especially those in rural towns or outer metropolitan suburbs), or because of personal or family commitments. Fortunately, these barriers could potentially be addressed through the use of effective online learning resources.

 

2. UNSW Learning and Teaching has in the past developed and ran a course called PPEd (Professional Placements Education) that was offered to supervisors of various health professional disciplines in UNSW. This health professional specific course was to parallel a highly successful course called Foundations of University Learning and Teaching (FULT) that appeals mainly to academics that mainly teach in lecture theatres and classrooms. Due to a number of reasons, this course was discontinued several years ago. However the original vision and spirit that led to the creation of PPEd was never lost, it simply lay dormant awaiting a new opportunity.

 

3. A recent re-accreditation review of the UNSW Medicine Program was conducted by the AMC (Australian Medical Council) in 2013/14. The program passed with flying colours but ensuring the consistency of student experience across clinical sites and supervisors was identified as a potential area for improvement. Of course, this is not a problem restricted to UNSW – it affects most other medical schools and also other health care disciplines. The use of online and blended learning modalities was identified as a promising way to improve consistency of clinical teaching across sites and supervisors. 

 

 

How is BLAST funded?

The Phase 1 of the project has been funded by the UNSW Learning and Teaching Innovations Grant. This included a literature and resources review; the development of a blueprint for a training program; development of selected parts of the training program as exemplars, piloting and evaluation of these components; and dissemination of the findings. Two modules were developed: (1) An overview of UNSW Medicine & Primary Care course - including structure, aims, graduate capabilities and competencies, teaching philosophy and information on course expectations and assessments; and (2) A guide to identifying and managing students that are experiencing difficulties during their clinical placement.

 

BLAST Phase 2 was funded by the Australian Government through UNSW Medicine. Three additional modules were developed: What attributes does a good clinical supervisor have?; Clinical reasoning; and Giving feedback. These modules were designed to appeal to a wider range of supervisors including not only Medicine supervisors but other disciplines.. In addition, a locally adapted version of previously developed module was created for UNSW Optometry Clinic and the Wagga Wagga campus of the Rural Clinical School of UNSW Medicine.

 

The School of Public Health and Community Medicine at UNSW is responsible for the ongoing maintenance of this website.