Practice Placements play a large part in the development of students as Physiotherapists. As part of their studies, students undertake a total of 6 clinical placements; One at Level 4, two at Level 5 and three at Level 6, obtaining a minimum of 1000 hours of practice placement experience.
Placements allocations are overseen by the Clinical Placement Coordinators, working in close conjunction with the Work Based Learning team, placement leads within the placement centres and practice education facilitators using the equitable allocation system. Placement providers identify capacity in each clinical area up to a minimum quota set by NHS Northwest. HEIs then plan placements based on this capacity to meet student need and ensure a breadth of clinical experience for students. The process is under continuous review and development to try and meet the needs of all partners and ensure timely allocation of high quality clinical placement experiences.
Clinical sites and students are normally notified of allocations a minimum of 6 weeks before a placement is due to commence.
In line with CSP guidelines (CSP, 2005. Learning in the practice environment in qualifying programmes in Physiotherapy (guidance document)), clinical placements are not referred to as occurring in core practice areas, but instead it is recognised that students can gain valuable experience across a range of practice settings. Consequently, each student’s learning in the practice environment should comprise of a balance of experiences in a variety of settings, with some elements of learning being core and reflected in each practice based learning experience. A broad experience base is therefore developed by combining the following:-
These experiences are encapsulated by aiming to provide students with experiences in an outpatient musculoskeletal setting, an acute setting, a rehabilitation setting and a community setting. Experiences are monitored by the Clinical Placement Coordinators and via the student’s portfolio. In order to inform the final placement experience of the programme, the above are reviewed with the student to identify an appropriate area of practice to complement previously gained experiences to ensure students are ‘fit for practice’ on completion of the programme.
This structure reflects the nature of contemporary physiotherapy practice, recognising the diverse settings in which physiotherapists work, and the importance of working with inter-professional teams and carers.