Healthcare degree placements at Wrexham University - a student’s perspective
We asked Physiotherapy student, Jill Plummer, to answer some questions about her experience of going on a placement as part of her degree.
She talks about the support students receive on placement, as well as the challenges and benefits of gaining practical experiences in her chosen field of study.
Why are placements important?
Placements put my degree into context and practice, and they are crucial for me to build on the academic knowledge I’ve gained through lectures and self-study.
They are a practical and dynamic experience where you can learn from, and be supported by, expert health care staff. Placements also allow you to develop a foundation of experience to work from as a professional, once qualified.
Placements are a vital part of any Physiotherapy degree, for expanding your learning and as a key requirement. In order to graduate, the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) have a requirement that students need to carry out a minimum of 1,000 hours of placement during their degree.
How will I know where I will be on placements?
Where you are placed on placement depends on a few variables, but there will always be somewhere to suit you as you make your way through your degree.
Specialisms, patient groups, location, delivery (e.g. community, ward, outpatients), and placement educators are just some of the factors considered when matching students up with their placement. Each placement is different and the experience each student has will be unique.
What support is available for me on placement?
Before starting, we have a pre-placement session with university staff to prepare and remind us of requirements that we need to stick to. This includes going through important documents and marking criteria, and it’s really useful having the lecturers on hand for us to ask any questions.
We also receive our placement educators’ email to contact them directly about any preparation we can do beforehand, or to discuss any concerns we may have before starting the placement. We also have the option of arranging a visit prior to starting if it’s possible for them.
Halfway through all placements, you and your placement educator will have a meeting with your university tutor to discuss how you’re doing. They’ll highlight any challenges you have experienced, and your tutor and placement educator will ask if there is any support you think you need. You’ll also have a post-placement debrief session with university staff which is an opportunity to reflect and discuss your experiences.
What if the placement is difficult?
Placements can be both enjoyable and challenging in equal measure. Students going through placements will find different aspects challenging depending on their own circumstances - no two students are the same. The experiences you have on placement, and the professional relationships you have with your placement educator or other healthcare staff can impact your daily routine on placement.
Some general factors to also consider that can sometimes add some pressures are living away from home, juggling both life and placement, or continuing to work on other modules and assignments at the same time as the placement.
Remember that there is support available. Your placement educator or your colleagues can be great sources of support on placement. You can also contact your university tutor, as they will be able to signpost you to university services. Speaking with peers and friends can be useful, but make sure that you always keep confidentiality of patients as a core principle.
What should I keep in mind before going on a placement?
The key personal practice I have learned to keep in mind whilst on placements is communication. It’s important to communicate if you are finding something challenging and if you feel that you need support.
As I’ve mentioned, placements are often enjoyable and are a great way to meet and work with incredible and interesting people. I’ve personally enjoyed getting to know patients and service users whilst also learning from experienced and inspiring Physiotherapists, along with other healthcare staff through my placement. Placements are a great way to develop your confidence in your knowledge and skills, whilst observing and working towards being qualified in your chosen degree.
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