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Pre-placement preparation activities

There a number of tasks involved when organising clinical placements.  The first time you offer a student placement, the preparation and organisation might take a significant amount of time but it will mean you have set up some good systems that will help the placement run smoothly. Subsequent placements will need less preparation.

It might be useful to create a checklist to allocate responsibilities for these tasks within your workplace. The checklist might include some of these activities:

  • Communicate with university placement coordinators about:
    • Schedule and length of placements throughout year and number of placements that can be offered
    • Suitable placement model and supervision approach options – e.g. shared supervision, multiple mentoring, interprofessional supervision, project-focused placement, role-emerging placement
    • The range of clinical experiences that can be offered within the placement (by you individually or in conjunction with colleagues from your own or other professions)
    • Knowledge and proficiency level of incoming students
    • Amount and nature of support to educator and students that the university is able to offer
    • Specific placement requirements (e.g. learning objectives, use of learning tools such as learning contracts or reflection processes, number of clinical hours expected, essential learning experiences, observation versus participation, complexity/nature of cases)
    • Assessment requirements for placement and other university assessment expectations (e.g. case studies or other assignments to be completed while on placement)
    • Who to contact (and when) at the university if there are difficulties during the placement
    • Formal agreement requirements between service provider and university – this might include costs of resources students use or costs of required travel as well as insurance and liability issues
    • Find out what safety checks have been completed (e.g. police background checks, working with children (Blue Card) checks) and current immunisation and First Aid training requirements. Inform the university of any additional requirements your workplace has for students on placement.
    • Home Visits:  Due to the differing contexts, settings, clientele and associated risks with home visiting, universities rely on the organisation or practice that is providing the student clinical placement to develop or reference a home visit policy specific to their setting. It is recommended that you develop or review a:
      • Home-visit policy which can include:
        • mobile phone use and communication
        • student’s previous contact with the client
        • Clinician’s knowledge of the client
        • Experience required by the student
      • Home visit risk checklist specific to the practice setting and clientele
  • Set up a process to communicate and co-ordinate within your organisation about incoming students:
    • so that everyone is aware of all of the students on placement (each student’s discipline, university, level of education, dates and length of placement, responsible clinical educator)
    • to facilitate other professionals to consider
      • interprofessional opportunities
      • multiple mentoring or shared supervision possibilities
    • to ensure the scheduling of placements fits in with other student placements, staff commitments and workplace requirements
    • to reach agreement within the workplace about the activities students can be involved in and the supervision requirements of these activities
  • Find out whether there is adequate working space for a student (e.g., a desk, access to a computer) and organise access (ID cards, login details, passwords etc) and parking
  • Find out whether there is available living accommodation if necessary
  • Plan the placement structure and timetable
  • Collate or develop learning resources that will help students develop an understanding of practice issues or skills particularly useful in your area of practice (e.g. required readings, learning modules, specific assessment or intervention techniques)
  • Organise orientation documentation and activities
  • Communicate with the student/s:
    • Send out a letter/email of introduction that tells the student all they need to know and do to prepare for the first day. Some of this information might include
      • your contact details, location or map, directions, parking, transport options
      • where and when you will meet on the first day and suggest what they might need to bring with them on the first day (e.g. own computer, lunch, car)
      • confirm the structure of the placement (e.g. placement days and locations, work hours, multiple students/educators, any overnight travel possibility)
      • overview of the nature of the caseload
      • expectations of appropriate dress/uniform
      • any pre-reading or other preparation you need them to do (e.g. familiarity with specific assessments or intervention techniques)
      • any prerequisite courses or learning modules (e.g. Queensland Health’s Student Health and Safety Orientation e-learning module; cultural awareness training)

In this video, Simone Howells, a Clinical Education Coordinator suggests some ways that the university can help you to prepare for a placement.




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