Original Research

Perceptions of postgraduate family medicine supervision at decentralised training sites, South Africa

Neetha J. Erumeda, Louis S. Jenkins, Ann Z. George
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 14, No 1 | a3111 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v14i1.3111 | © 2022 Neetha Joe Erumeda, Louis Stander Jenkins, Ann Zeta George | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 July 2021 | Published: 14 March 2022

About the author(s)

Neetha J. Erumeda, Department of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; and, Gauteng Department of Health, Ekurhuleni Health District Services, Germiston, South Africa
Louis S. Jenkins, Division of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa; and, Western Cape Department of Health, Eden District, George Hospital, George, South Africa
Ann Z. George, Centre of Health Science Education, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: Specialist training in family medicine (FM) is growing rapidly in sub-Saharan Africa. The strong emphasis on workplace-based learning for speciality training makes it vital to gain in-depth insights into registrar supervision. Previous studies have explored aspects of supervision at decentralised sites in high-income countries, however, little is known about the benefits and constraints of decentralised postgraduate supervision in low- to middle-income countries, especially in Africa.

Aim: This study aimed to explore family physicians’ and registrars’ perceptions of the strengths and challenges of clinical and educational supervision across decentralised training sites.

Setting: The study was conducted across two provinces at five decentralised training sites affiliated with the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Methods: This qualitative study involved semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of 11 FPs and 11 registrars. The data were thematically analysed.

Results: Two of the four themes identified, ‘supervision is context-specific and supervisor-dependent’, and ‘the nature of engagement matters’, involved strengths and challenges. The other two, ‘supervision is not ideal’ and ‘the training environment is challenging’, focussed on challenges.

Conclusion: Supervisors and registrars described the postgraduate FM supervision as context-specific and supervisor-dependent. Supervisors displayed good clinical-teacher characteristics and supervisory relationships. However, several challenges, including registrars’ workload, resource shortages and a lack of standardisation across training sites, need to be addressed. Regular faculty development is essential for supervisors to be aware of relevant aspects of, and current trends in, postgraduate training.


clinical supervision; decentralised clinical training; educational supervision; family physician; family medicine registrar; postgraduate training; workplace-based learning


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Crossref Citations

1. The Durban University of Technology Faculty of Health Sciences Decentralized Clinical Training Project: Protocol for an Implementation Study in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Celenkosini Thembelenkosini Nxumalo, Pavitra Pillay, Gugu Gladness Mchunu
JMIR Research Protocols  vol: 13  first page: e52243  year: 2024  
doi: 10.2196/52243