Student placement innovations showcased in new CSP films

A CSP film series launched today showcases innovative approaches to practice placements in ways that benefit both educators and learners.

Student physio placements can be offered in any setting where a physiotherapist works

During the pandemic, many student placements were cancelled due to factors ranging from the redeployment of staff, lockdown restrictions and insurance concerns to the shortage of personal protective equipment.

However, many universities and placement providers are responding by using the recent boom in online working to expand places on current programmes, develop new learning in areas from primary care to leadership and adapting different placement models.

Four-to-one supervision model

The Acute Paediatric Physiotherapy Service at Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Glasgow Caledonian University are using virtual tools to allow four students to be on the same placement, including one who joins online from Singapore.

Their placement model sees students work as a team with one on site at a time undertaking the clinical aspects of patient consultations while the other three join in the consultation virtually. They all join clinicians online for their morning ‘huddles’ and report back findings from their own case research in group sessions with their educator.

Placement student James Couturier believes the virtual learning element has huge benefits. ‘It allows you more free time to look up conditions and medications you may not know about,’ he says. ‘To be able to chat with students constantly and learn from them has been a really good thing,’ says student Danielle Beleutz.

There are benefits for the NHS teams, too, as Kath Sharp respiratory physio team lead at the hospital, points out. ‘We’ve been able to gain from them as much as they gain from us,’ she affirms, citing a successful student project to design a movement programme for patients during dialysis sessions.

Two more films showcase a leadership placement at Brighton General Hospital that is taught in person and remotely, and one in a first contact physiotherapy service at Wellington Medical Practice, which is taught on site. 

Creating future leaders

Brighton General Hospital worked with Brighton University on the new leadership placement. Clinical lead in physiotherapy Suzi Arnold pointed to the many benefits of hosting students.

The students were able to contribute really usefully to our team. They were able to join our team meetings and asked great questions.

‘Having students really keeps you on your toes in terms of your clinical reasoning,’ agrees first contact practitioner Joe Smith at Wellington Medical Practice whose placement scheme was developed with the University of Wolverhampton. ‘It makes your practice a lot better.’

Wolverhampton student Adam Spinks says. ‘It’s a fantastic opportunity because It’s a relatively new role,’ he says. ‘So when it comes to my future career, this placement has made me consider going into a first contact practitioner role.’

Wellington’s is one of a growing number of student placements offered outside a hospital setting, including the CSP itself which is providing four places to students across the UK. More details will come out about this soon.

Hosting a student placement

‘There is no one-size-fits-all placement structure anymore as we need to change and adapt to meet the demand of increasing student numbers and the changes in the healthcare landscape,’ says CSP professional adviser Alex Nambyiah.

‘And as these examples show providing placements is beneficial to you, your team, students and patients.'

There is currently a chronic shortage of placement for physiotherapy students. Practice educators and their wider teams are a critical resource and play an integral role in providing students with the experience required for graduating as a physiotherapist.  If you think you can offer a placement, please contact your local university to see how you can get involved or visit the CSP practice based learning webpages to find out more. 

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