Your first placement

Effective preparation for your placement/s will give you confidence before you start.

See our tips on what will be expected of you, and how to get the most out of your placement.

Student nurse walking in corridor

How to prepare

You will be given information about your placement by your course staff and possibly by NHS trust representatives visiting your university.

You may also have an induction day run by the trust to familiarise you with the placement setting.

If no visit is planned you may need to contact your placement mentor/clinical educator to arrange the shifts you will be working. You’ll feel much more confident when you start if you are familiar with the surroundings and some of the people you’ll be working with.

“Be as flexible as you can with your shifts, so you work the same shifts as your mentor and are able to work alongside them wherever possible, to maximise the opportunities you have to learn.”  

Heather Bower, lead midwife for education, University of Greenwich

Familiarise yourself with assessment documents and set yourself clear learning objectives for your placement. Discuss these with your placement mentor before starting. This is the best time to make any specific requests for learning opportunities as your mentor will be busier once the placement starts.

Make sure you read relevant journals and magazines, and be aware of key health topics in the media.

"Get an overview of the trust you will be working for by looking at its website. You’ll be more likely to demonstrate a genuine interest in the hospital if you have some idea of the range of departments and services it offers."

Danielle Nixon, practice development midwife, St Thomas’ Hospital

What will be expected?

Students on health courses often worry about what will be expected of them on placement so here are some tips:

"There will be formal expectations in terms of clear learning objectives that you will need to meet but also other expectations of your interpersonal skills that are not so clear cut. For example, contributing to the team effectively can mean engaging with all members of staff, showing enthusiasm and recognising when you can help out, such as making tea."

Neil Rossi, physiotherapy clinical educator

"You have a responsibility to speak up if you feel out of your depth. This part of the professional code is to ensure patient/client safety. Although this shouldn’t happen, in a situation for example where a hospital is short staffed, you may be asked to do something you don’t feel ready to do."

Heather Bower, lead midwife for education, University of Greenwich

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