Preparing for and managing clinical education placements

‘Student learning outcomes will be more successful, and the placement less stressful for all concerned when it is well organised. Clinical educators need to see themselves not only as educators but also as managers of students’ learning programmes…  This involves management tasks in … preparation, implementation and evaluation.’ (McAllister & Lincoln, 2004, p.48)

This section provides relevant information to help you become a 'manager of student learning'. This includes the factors involved in the decision-making process about offering a clinical education placement, the benefits of placements, the key elements of quality placements, the options to consider about placement models and supervision approaches, the important steps you need to take when preparing for student placements, as well as what to do at the start, throughout, and at the end of a placement.

One of the most important things to think about first is the reason why clinical education is crucial and exactly what it is our students are learning and experiencing while on placement.

Why are clinical education placements important?

Students have the opportunity to 'transform their propositional (book or theoretical) knowledge into professional craft knowledge (the knowledge of how professionals get things done in practice) through clinical education placements. While on placement, students also develop their 'professional identity' and develop many of the generic skills (e.g. teamwork, time-management, conflict-resolution) they need for professional practice (McAllister et al., 2010, p.xi).

In this video, Professor Lindy McAllister describes the knowledge, skills and attributes students develop through clinical education.


McAllister, L. and Lincoln, M. (2004) Clinical Education in Speech Language Pathology. Whurr: London.
McAllister, L., Paterson, M., Higgs, J. and Bithell, C. (2010). Innovations in allied health fieldwork education. Sense: Rotterdam.




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