Deciding to offer a clinical education placement
When deciding whether to offer a clinical education placement, you need to consider your:
- motivations for offering the placement – the benefits to you, the students, your workplace;
- ability to facilitate student learning – the appropriate clinical and interpersonal skills, enthusiasm for your work and for clinical education, workload, organisation and time management and adequate understanding of the role of clinical educator; and
- capacity to provide a suitable environment and caseload for student learning, appropriate space and enough available time.
In this section, there is information to help you decide whether to take a student for the first time; information about the benefits and challenges of offering placements; the features of high quality placements; and the characteristics you will need to be an effective student supervisor.
You will then need to decide how best to structure and prepare for the placement to ensure an effective learning experience.
Benefits of being a clinical educator or student supervisor
Professional associations require practitioners to maintain their professional competence and continue to improve and update knowledge and skills. They also recognise the importance of practitioners’ contributions to clinical education. For example, Speech Pathology Australia binds each member to “Continually update and extend our professional knowledge and skills…” (Speech Pathology Australia, 2010) and “the Association views student supervision as a professional responsibility and strongly encourages members of the profession to embrace the benefits” (Speech Pathology Australia, 2005). Therefore, many practitioners feel a responsibility or obligation to the profession to take on the role of clinical educator.
However, becoming a student supervisor can also provide a number of benefits. You can grow and learn through the experience of having students, developing your clinical, communication, supervision and leadership skills. Some of the positive motivations for becoming a student supervisor include:
- continuing your learning by keeping you up to date with theories and evidence
- opportunity to reflect and explore your understanding of your own practice (e.g. explaining your conceptual maps integrating theory and practice can consolidate your understanding and interpretation)
- develops your clinical reasoning skills
- professional development of your clinical educator and professional supervision skills as well as interpersonal and communication skills
- personal satisfaction of facilitating student learning and development
- students can share your workload and/or offer additional services
- students can undertake research, quality assurance, literature reviews
- students can offer a different perspective or provide a sounding board to explore ideas
- students can develop resources or complete projects that you would like done
- students can bring a new energy to your existing team
- eligibility for continuing education or professional development accreditation points and career progression enhancement
- continuing relationship or connection with universities which may involve tangible rewards such as access to professional development, university library access, opportunities to participate in coursework teaching and research.
Student placement benefits to workplaces
Clinical education placements can also benefit your workplace by:
- enabling assessment of students for future employment and training students to gain particular competencies. When recent students are employed, they can often 'hit the ground running'.
- increasing student awareness and understanding of particular areas of practice (e.g. mental health and the other target areas of ClinEdAus)
- increasing productivity and additional service provision (e.g. education sessions, in-services) - students have time and drive to commit to the development of new initiatives that staff may not have had time to do within their busy workload.
- improving staff knowledge (current theory, evidence based practice) and skills (mentoring, clinical reasoning, organisation, time management, supervision, communication, conflict resolution)
- enhancing staff collaborative teamwork within and across profession
- improving diversity within the workplace
- developing and updating resources, completing projects, undertaking research
- implementing quality assurance processes
- fostering mutually beneficial relationships with higher education providers
- promoting the service within the workplace and within the community.
In this video, Professor Lindy McAllister explores some of the issues around the effect of clinical education placements on productivity in the workplace.
- Bay, U. and Courtney, M. (2013). You become the supervisor. In K. Stagnitti, A. Schoo, & D. Welch (Eds.), Clinical and fieldwork placements in the health professions(2nd ed) (pp. 355-347). Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press
- James Cook University (2011). Workplace Educators Resource Package.
- McAllister, L. and Lincoln, M. (2004). Clinical Education in Speech Language Pathology. Whurr: London.
- Occupational Therapy Practice Education Collaborative - Queensland (2017). Why supervise a student?.
- Speech Pathology Australia (2010). Code of Ethics.
- Speech Pathology Australia (2005). Position Statement Clinical Education - The importance and value for the speech pathology profession.
- Thomas, Y., Dickson, D., Broadbridge, J., Hopper, L., Hawkins, R., Edwards, A. and McBryde, C. (2007). Benefits and challenges of supervising occupational therapy fieldwork students: Supervisors’ perspectives. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 54, S2-S12.