May placement profile: role-emerging community placements in a charity setting

This month we highlight another innovative student placement model that features, along with many others, on the CSP’s placement profile platform.


MS-UK is a national charity supporting those affected by multiple sclerosis. It aims to empower people to live healthier and happier lives by improving the understanding of MS and providing support where it is needed most.

They offered a remote role-emerging placement to students at the University of Essex to experience a community-based placement in a non-traditional, non-clinical setting.

A role-emerging placement is where there is no existing therapist or established role for that profession. Having physio students in a setting where there is no established physio service can raise the potential for a physiotherapy service to be offered to service users in the future.

Dean Jeffreys
Dean Jefferys, online programmes and project manager

Under this 2:1 remote model with no onsite clinical supervisor, students were allowed a greater independence and therefore their level of clinical reasoning was further challenged.

The MS-UK online programmes and project manager Dean Jeffreys acted as the on-site student educator. He reported that:

‘Our remote, role-emerging placement offers a unique experience for students in a non-traditional, non-clinical setting.

The benefit for the student is it encourages greater autonomous working that has shown to develop their level of clinical reasoning and ultimately their confidence in their own professional practice and ability

Dean explained that: ‘With no onsite physiotherapy supervisor and established physio service framework to follow it allowed a more autonomous process – students challenged their clinical reasoning and truly understood their professional boundaries.’

Long-armed supervision

Joanne Etherton, a lecturer at the University of Essex fed back that: ‘Being the long-arm supervision for the placement was a pleasure. It is a different relationship with the students to being an academic supervisor or practice educator.

‘We met weekly for 60-90 minutes and having a specific, tangible outcome to focus our energies upon contributed to a really productive supervision session.

‘I’d recommend anyone interested in education, but is perhaps unable to support a student full time considers a long arm supervisor role.’

Service improvement project

Kirsty Ronald
Physio student Kirsty Ronald

Kirsty Ronald, a University of Essex physiotherapy student who has recently completed this placement, reflected on the experience and said:

It was a great experience to be involved with a real life service improvement project where the current service options were highlighted and free reign was given in terms of the improvements that could be made

‘I learnt I can apply the principles of creating a problem list and treatment plan to the situation by researching what the current issues with the service were and how they could be solved by using my physiotherapy knowledge to make a difference in the lives of a whole community.’

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