Tackling the Challenges
It can be a long term goal to tackle organisational and funding based challenges prior to accepting student placements. The Mental Health Coordinating Council’s Scoping Report (2013, pp. 22-24) and Practice Placement Guide (2013, pp. 12-13) suggest a range of solutions to commonly identified barriers at the organisational level, even including a pro-forma Practice Placement Agreement between the workplace and university to facilitate the process. They also have a section of their website that focuses on Practice Placements in Mental Health.
The clinical educator needs to consider the relevance and possible impact of challenging factors carefully. Some of these challenges might simply need to be accepted as inevitable, but worth tackling, to achieve the benefits of providing clinical education placements in Mental Health contexts. However, many of the challenges can be eased by:
- Practical resources to assist the educator coordinate the smooth running of a placement
- Adequately preparing the student
- Adequate training and education resources for the clinical educator to build education and mentoring skills
Prioritising time and opportunities specifically for these aspects can be a challenge in its own right when facing a busy caseload. The early investment into planning and preparation of both the clinical educator and the student can save time in the long run.
Wendy Szatkowski, an experienced mental health Occupational Therapist and Clinical Educator, shares a few suggestions on how to manage a successful mental health practice placement.
Mental Health Coordinating Council (2013). Practice Placement Guide: Mental Health Workforce Professional Entry Practice Placements in the NSW Community Managed Mental Health Sector – a NSW Pilot Study. MHCC, Sydney. http://mhcc.org.au/media/11009/ppp-placement-guide-final-2013.pdf
Mental Health Coordinating Council (2013). Scoping Report: Mental Health Workforce Professional Entry Practice Placements in the NSW Community Managed Mental Health Sector – a NSW Pilot Study. MHCC, Sydney. https://www.mhcc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/ppp-scoping-report-final-2013.pdf