University role in pre-placement planning

In this video, Simone Howells, a Clinical Education Coordinator, suggests ways that the university can support clinical educators to ensure placement quality.


Pre-placement checklist

Activities that a student supervisor should complete prior to the placement commencing include:

1. Set up a process to communicate and co-ordinate in your organisation about incoming students:

  • so that everyone is aware of the students on placement (each student’s health profession, university, level of education, placement dates,  length of placement, responsible student supervisor),
  • to facilitate other professionals to consider:
    • interprofessional opportunities
    • multiple mentoring or shared supervision possibilities,
  • to ensure the scheduling of placements fits in with other student placements, staff commitments and workplace requirements,
  • to reach agreement in the workplace on the activities students should be involved in and the supervision arrangements for these activities.

2. Identify adequate working space for a student (e.g., a desk, access to a computer) and organise access (ID cards, login details, passwords etc) and parking.

3. Identify accommodation options, if necessary.

4. Plan the structure of the placement and prepare a timetable (at least for the first week).

5. Collate or develop learning resources to assist students to develop an understanding of practice issues or skills frequently used in your practice area (e.g. required readings, learning modules, specific assessment or intervention techniques).  This includes considering the 'what ifs'.  A good example of a 'what if' would be considering what resources or support you would require should a student experience a death while on placement.  This might include death of a client, death of a work colleague or a death outside of the placement environment. 

6. Organise orientation documentation, resources and activities (e.g. tour of placement setting and introduction to key stakeholders). Consider providing students with an orientation kit that includes all relevant resources, checklists, and agreements

7. Communicate with the student.  Send out a letter/email of introduction that informs students about the placement and how to prepare for the first day. Relevant information might include:

  • placement dates
  • your contact details, location or map, directions, parking,
  • transport options/travel requirements: rules/guidelines around driving to and from placement.  Consider also maps, routes, unsealed roads, and suitability of the vehicle
  • uniform requirements/dress code
  • where and when to meet on the first day and suggest what they might need to bring with them (e.g. own computer, lunch, car)
  • accommodation requirements (if applicable)
  • structure of the placement (e.g. placement days and locations, work hours, multiple students/educators, any overnight or outreach travel requirements)
  • overview of the nature of the caseload
  • expectations of appropriate dress/uniform
  • pre-reading or other preparation for the first day(e.g. familiarity with specific assessments or intervention techniques)
  • university placement documentation (e.g. assessment, clinical hours documentation)
  • access to technology while on placement
  • any prerequisite courses or learning modules (e.g. Queensland Health’s Student Health and Safety Orientation e-learning module; cultural awareness training

In this video, Simone Howells, a Clinical Education Coordinator from Griffith University suggests some ways that the university can help student supervisors to prepare for a placement.


A note on safety considerations

Safety considerations will vary across settings but must be prioritised early in the student placement. Listen to Hazel Bassett, an experienced Mental Health Occupational Therapist and Clinical Educator, describe key safety considerations when taking a student in a Mental Health Setting.




Please Note: References remain valid until superseded by later research. The resources referenced here are regularly reviewed and are considered current and relevant to the topics presented.

  • 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.
  • McAllister, L. and Lincoln, M. (2004). Clinical Education in Speech Language Pathology. Whurr: London.
  • Pereira, R. (2008). Learning and being a first-time student supervisor: Challenges and triumphs. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 16, 247–248.
  • James Cook University (2012) JCU Workplace Educators Resource Package. Retrieved from:




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