Managing Workload with a Student

Managing Workload with a Student

The key to a successful placement is the planning and preparation. Please refer to the Preparing for and Managing placements section of this website for detailed information.

Prepare a timetable with the student to assist with workload management. This will also help you to visualise what is occurring on a day to day basis and can be used to assist with setting goals for students with their workload.

Try to ensure everything is included in the timetable – meetings, patient treatments, reflective time, feedback etc. Some educators find it beneficial to develop a template for a student timetable which can be modified for individual placements.

If problems occur with workload management, consider the following.

  1. Reflect on your own expectations; are they appropriate in these particular circumstances? If possible, discuss with at least one colleague (even if they are at another site). Consider if the student is being challenged appropriately. Remember both ends of the spectrum. Some students may find the workload challenging while others may require greater challenges.
  2. Always remember, every student is different.
  3. It is important to regularly review the students’ workload to ensure their learning experience is maximised. Adjust their workload appropriately. Consider the complexity of their workload as well as numbers. Remember, they may never have experienced this before or conversely they may have had similar experiences in previous placements.
  4. Are there any factors which may be impacting on the student’s performance during the placement? These generally relate to:
    •  Student attitude, communication, professional practice, self-management or clinical skills in the workplace
    •  Cultural or linguistic diversity
    •  Health and /or personal issues

When any of these issues arise, it is the responsibility of the student to inform the workplace educator, however this may not always occur and the student’s performance may be affected.

Some causes for the above-mentioned problems can include:

  • Personal Factors – e.g. health issues, disability, difficulty with personal relationships outside the workplace, financial stress, homesickness, cultural and language issues, difficulty adjusting to workload, not well orientated to placement, unclear expectations, not feeling welcome or part of the team, difficulties in the relationship with the supervisor;
  • Learning Environment/ Placement Structure – e.g. multiple supervisors with differing expectations, multiple caseloads with high demand, workload issues (too little or too much), insufficient or unhelpful feedback, limited access to resources and space, poor organisation and timetabling;
  • Clinical and professional competency issues – e.g. lack of knowledge, poor time/self management, unsuitable presentation, difficulties in communicating, poor clinical judgment, difficulty linking theory to practice, not demonstrating clinical reasoning strategies, unsafe behaviour with clients; and
  • Challenging behaviours, attitude or personality – e.g. student may be disinterested, unmotivated, lacking initiative, unwilling to meet deadlines or follow directions, not confident or withdrawn.

(James Cook University, 2012)

If you decide there is an issue, than you need to develop strategies to address this. Please refer to the Managing Difficult Situations section of this website for guidance in this area.


James Cook University (2012) JCU Workplace Educators Resource Package. Retrieved from:


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