At the start of a placement

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


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



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.


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