Student preparation and support
Student preparation and support for Indigenous clinical education placements
Many allied health university curricula integrate information about working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Some courses also ensure students have ‘cultural awareness training’ prior to going on placement. However, clinical educators report that students often have insufficient understanding of some aspects of Indigenous health issues and culture before they start a placement. Students also feel under-prepared for these placements. In the report, 'I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now', students reflect on their Indigenous clinical education experiences and suggest ways that the universities could more adequately prepare them for placement. The report also provides some simple and practical suggestions for students preparing to work within an Indigenous context.
An effective orientation program can clearly provide students with contextual information about the placement setting and the organisation. An orientation manual can also be helpful to students and provide them with the specific information they will require working within that setting. For example, the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health's Student Orientation Package sets out the organisation structure and service provision partners. It explains the organisation's values and mission and also details the various programs that are run in the organisation. The orientation document suggests ways students can maximise their learning experience while on placement and sets out background reading that would be useful for students.
Many excellent resources are available to help students prepare for a placement working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to support them as they develop their understanding and skills. These resources have been collated and described within the relevant topics below. A suggested introductory point for students might be to ask them to read a useful chapter about Indigenous clinical education placements, 'Working in Indigenous Health Settings' (Whitford, Taylor & Thomas, 2013).
Whitford, D., Taylor, J., and Thomas, K. (2013). Working in Indigenous health settings. In K. Stagnitti, A. Schoo, & D. Welch (Eds.), Clinical and fieldwork placements in the health professions (2nd ed) (pp. 329-347). Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.