At the start of a placement - Orienting students


It is important to create a positive and welcoming learning environment. One of the first steps is to provide an organised orientation program and to clearly explain your expectations and what you require of students. This should include spending time clarifying learning needs, setting up learning experiences and allocating adequate time to direct the student’s learning and assessment (Rodger et al., 2011).  Suggestions for developing orientation manual content (McAllister & Lincoln, 2004, p.35):

  • Brainstorm with your colleagues
  • Look at other student orientation materials from a different profession within your workplace
  • Look at orientation materials for new staff within your workplace
  • Look at student orientation manuals from other workplaces
  • Get feedback from past or current students about the existing orientation materials
  • List resources, readings, guidelines, protocols, forms, handouts, equipment and assessments used often

Some examples of orientation manuals are:

Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health Student Orientation Manual 

National Rural Health Student Network:  Rural Placements Guide


Placement details

It is important that clinical supervisors liaise with the student ahead of placement start to confirm:

  • The dates of your placement
  • Travel to the placement, and any rules/guidelines around driving to and from placement.  Consider also maps, routes, unsealed roads, and suitability of the vehicle
  • First day details - time, location
  • Accommodation
  • Workload requirements (for example:  if you are full time/part time, travel time to outreach services, impact of travel and outreach on access to face to face supervision)
  • Resources and equipment that the student will be provided with, and the resources and equipment they will need to pack with them
  • University placement documentation (e.g., assessment, clinical hours documentation)
  • Access to technology while on placement
  • Visit our Orientation manual for rural and remote settings from more considerations in this practice context

Activities to be completed at commencement of placement:

  • Provide students with appropriate documents and paperwork including orientation kit and various checklists and agreements
  • Conduct orientation program – this could be done interprofessionally to allow students to meet other professionals within the workplace and other students on placements at the same time
  • Show the student around and introduce them to relevant people
  • Ensure the student has a correct identification card and understands any uniform requirements
  • Collect any documentation required from student
  • Discuss goals and opportunities for placement (particularly important when using a learning contract)
  • outline the daily/weekly routines
  • discuss:
    • learning styles
    • preferences for feedback


As the placement progresses:

Remember, planning cannot account for all circumstances. Be flexible. Should unexpected situations occur, review your plan and make adjustments accordingly.


  • Communication continues to be the essential component. Maintain effective communication with all involved parties – student/s, other staff members and University placement coordinator.
  • Do not be afraid to ask for help or guidance from peers or the University placement coordinator.
  • Ensure the University placement co-ordinator receives appropriate updates regarding the students’ performance.


  • Continue to provide the student/s with feedback  – informal, formal (not assessed) and formally assessed.
  • You have planned and read the university manual and are aware of the paperwork required and when you are required to submit to the university.

 Facilitation of Learning

  • Continue to Facilitating Learning for your student, maintain an effective learning environment and supporting the student as required.

 Managing Difficult Situations

  • Should a challenging situation occur, access our Managing Difficult Situations section for a framework to manage the situation and develop strategies (which have been agreed with the student) to implement.

 Emotional Wellbeing



  • McAllister, L. and Lincoln, M. (2004) Clinical Education in Speech Language Pathology. Whurr: London.
  • Rodger, S., Fitzgerald, C., Davila, W., Millar, F. and Allison, H. (2011), What makes a quality occupational therapy practice placement? Students’ and practice educators’ perspectives. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 58, 195–202. DOI:


Reflection Activity: During The Placement

You have prepared the placement thoroughly, completed...
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