Ensuring successful placements

Whilst there are many benefits to taking students it is widely acknowledged that it is not always easy. Common issues to having students are listed below with suggestions on how to overcome them and help ensure the placement is as successful as possible.

Suggestions to mitigate
Short staffed / busyWhilst it does take some additional time to host students, it is possible to have the students assist with the workload and with special projects. This will help compensate for the time required.
Think about developing and retaining resources for future students so that each time it gets easier and takes less time to plan and evaluate.
Lack of confidence in own ability / knowledgeHosting a student is not about needing to know everything. Sharing what you do know and exposing students to your place of work will be of benefit.
The student may be able to help you increase your confidence by helping you realise just how much you do know.
Learning from the students can be one of the real benefits from taking students.
You may also want to consider collaborating with your peers from within your organisation, or from another, to provide joint supervision. For example you might elect to hold joint supervision/feedback sessions with them and their students where you can utilise the collective knowledge to provide a positive learning experience.
This resource will provide many useful tips and tools.
Most education providers will also provide specific support to their students’ supervisors including training, templates, networks and facilitation services.
Part-time staffConsider negotiating to take a student part time or share the student with someone that works different hours to you, even if they work in a different organisation/service. Alternatively it may suit the student to undertake their placement in part-time hours over a longer number of weeks.
Lack of capacity to supervise studentsEven if you may be very competent at your work you may feel that you don’t know what is expected of you or how to supervise students.
This resource will provide many useful tips and resources.
Most Universities will also provide specific support to their supervisors including training, templates, networks and facilitation services.
Supervision and workplace learning not valuedImproving your organisation as a learning organisation can be a challenge. Hosting students is a clear demonstration of your organisations intent to support the learning of the current and future workforce. Consider allocating a portfolio responsibility to an interested member of staff to manage student placements and develop relationships with the academic sector. Celebrate the successes gained by having students at your workplace through write-ups in newsletters, at team events and through formal reports evaluating the process.
Lack of clarityIt is important that the supervisor, student, education provider and host organisation has clarity around roles and expectations. Key documents that will assist in providing this clarity include:

  • The placement contract between the education provider and the host outlining the organisational responsibilities
  • A clinical supervisors position description or role outline provided by the University
  • The Students placement plan which should be developed in conjunction with the supervisor outlining the specific objectives for that placement
  • A clinical supervisors position description or role outline provided by the education provider
  • Competency and suggested activities for students at that level, provided by the Education provider.
When in doubt ask the contact provided for the education provider.
No discipline specific supervisor availableWithin the context of interprofessional learning there is great value to be gained from cross-discipline supervision. This will depend greatly on the specific learning objectives of the student, clinical context and available supervisor capability. On-site supervision may be better provided through a different discipline and supplemented through remote discipline specific supervision via telephone, email and internet.
Lack of clients / lack of acuityStudents value placements where they can consolidate their skills including assessment, communication and documentation. Every service has the ability to provide a rewarding placement when planned well in conjunction with the student.
Student not interested / engagedHave a conversation with the student about what they want to get from the placement. Encourage them to see the potential to refine their skills or practice new skills. Find out their previous experiences with clinical placements that may be impacting their attitude.
Consider getting them to complete a pre-placement survey.
View template at