The impact of a positive clinical placement experience
Six third year physiotherapy students from Charles Sturt University have recently been undertaking their placement at Wagga Wagga Base Hospital in the specialty areas of orthopaedics, stroke, intensive care and rehabilitation. Coming to Wagga from a range of locations Emma (Wagga), Francine (Port Macquarie), Cambridge (Sunshine Coast), Emma (Temora), Amy (Young) and Ben (Melbourne) undertook their first clinical placement in the regional referral hospital. The students were extremely appreciative of the support and education they had been provided on placement, one of them stating “the placement has been awesome, my supervisor is amazing”.
As this was the students’ first clinical placement and their first experience working as physiotherapists they were particularly enthusiastic and felt that they had confirmed their desire to practice as physiotherapists. This was largely a result of the learning opportunities they had been provided by their clinical supervisors. Amy explained, “Our supervisors were really happy to supervise us practising our skills and step in only when required so we got a lot of practical experience”. Cambridge agreed and felt her supervisor really promoted her involvement in care and always ‘having a go’. She also explained that when she commenced her placement her supervisor asked her what learning styles suited her and tailored her education accordingly.
The students received confirmation from their supervisors that they were viewed as part of the team. “Our facilitators’ respect us and treat us as part of the team, not a student. We have joint responsibility for our patients and our supervisors encourage us to have an opinion, ask questions and advocate for our patients. I didn’t think people would want to hear from a student but my supervisor told me she values my opinion.” This type of inclusiveness was extended to the students from other disciplines as well.
When asked about their opinions of undertaking practical placement in a regional area compared to a metropolitan location Cambridge answered “I’ve spent a lot of time in the city but coming back to a regional area is so good. The community feel and the people in the hospital are awesome.” The other students agreed and although they were positive about attending placement in both rural and metropolitan areas they recognised that rural areas present a great opportunity for future employment, particularly considering access to education and support are widely available through telehealth.
Overall, the discussion highlighted the impact a positive clinical placement experience can have on students’ confidence, learning and feeling of belonging to a community. To finish the conversation, the students were asked to reflect on what the word rural makes them think of. They described cows, landscapes, hay bales and a feeling of home.
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