Shadow Coaching Programs for Specialty Trainers

By Erica Lai, OT


Since 2019, specialty training program was introduced in Operating Theater (OT). When new nurse comes to our department, an 18-month Perioperative Nursing Training Program will be provided. Because of the new perioperative training style, the OT nurses had a new role as specialty trainers who were responsible to provide coaching on clinical skill, share clinical experiences and enhance specialty development. However, the past system of supporting clinical teaching was fraught with controversy and confusion about role specification and workload implications. Nurses might find difficulties in fulfilling the dual roles of clinical facilitator and trainers. Sometimes when support was not enough, nurses might be unable to teach and supervise trainees in addition to demands of patient care.

Purpose and Problem Statement

The purpose of the EPB is to provide guidance and support for specialty trainers when providing training for new staff, to improve competence and confidence of specialty trainers, as well as to increase satisfaction regarding exchange of knowledge and skills

The problem statement was “Does the implementation of a “shadow coaching program” for specialty trainers improve competence and confidence in perioperative nurse training?”

Implementation Plan

The intervention consisted of two parts including Trainer Workshop and Shadow Coaching Program. The content of Trainer Workshop was about the introduction of OT Perioperative Nursing Training Program, role and responsibilities of the specialty trainers, recommended clinical training skills from the latest literature, as well as the “Shadow Coaching” Program”.  In the Shadow Coaching Program, the coach worked with a pair of trainer and trainee through the whole process of training. The coach observed the how the trainer delivered the training, gave real time feedback and then helped the trainer to make reflective improvement.


After the intervention, there was an increase in understanding of the OT Perioperative Nursing Program, specialty trainers were clearer about their roles and responsibilities, and they had increased competence, confidence, and satisfaction. Besides, there were also increase in using recommended clinical training skills during the whole training procedure. Concerning the opinion on the shadow coaching program, the participants agreed that it \was useful and supportive as it helps the specialty training to be provided in a more systematic manner.

Recommendations and Next Steps

The Shadow Coaching Program raised awareness about perioperative nurse training for new staff in OT, it also promoted positive training environment which increased satisfaction on perioperative training, as well as enhanced competence and confidence in clinical teaching.

For the next steps, shadow coaching would be provided to specialty trainers of other specialties on a weekly basis. To ensure compliance and sustainability, regular audits would be conducted. Trainees’ feedback would also be evaluated to strengthen the mentoring relationship.