Placements in private practice: information for private practitioners

Find out how taking students on placements can benefit you and your business


Advertising your practice as one which takes students from a local higher education institute (HEI) helps demonstrate that you are at the forefront of evidence-based practice.

Students will bring a fresh perspective and up-to-date learning from university which may support you to increase your knowledge base.

Their IT skills and social media expertise may be able to help you update systems and potentially help with marketing and promotion.

What can students do on placement in private practice?

Students can:

  • help with projects and audit, for example, helping update your patient information leaflets or promotional materials.
  • provide additional 1-1 sessions, at no cost to the patient such as an extra session of supervised exercise which can extend your patients treatment time; helping enhance patient experience.
  • help you with charity work and running events that can increase your practice’s community standing.

Frequently asked questions about student placements in private practice

What type of placements could I offer?

Private practitioners who are considering offering practice-based learning opportunities should contact their local HEI. They will be able to talk you through the process and help with the planning and required administration.

You do not have to offer the traditional 5 day a week, patient facing placement. This may not suit you or your business. Do you know another local private practitioner with whom you can share the load with. Could you link with a local NHS provider giving the student the opportunity to compare and contrast sectors? Do you have an audit that needs to be done? Leaflets that need updating. Social media marketingopportunities you would like to explore?

Remember, the experience needs to work for all parties; the student, the HEI, and you.

Be creative!

What if I don’t have enough patients?

A placement does not have to consist of back-to-back patients, remember the student is there to learn and so requires the time to properly plan, assess, note take, use evidence-based practice, clinically reason and reflect on what went well as well as how the student may improve next time

As we have said already, you may decide to offer a split placement; part patient treatments and part project work.

What if my patients object to being treated by a student physiotherapist?

It is important that it is explained to all patients that you have students with you and ask their permission that the student takes part in their treatment. They should be given the opportunity to opt out if they desire. In most cases where patients choose not to it is usually as a result of privacy concerns such as undressing in front of an additional person.

In many instances patients actually enjoy the added attention and being party to the clinical reasoning conversations they hear.

Many private practitioners choose to have a ‘mission statement’ in their waiting area explaining the policy of educating students and the benefits it can bring.

Mission statement example

'This clinic participates in the undergraduate education of pre-registration physiotherapy students from local universities. This means that from time to time we will have students with us either in an observational or in a teaching capacity.

We believe that this puts us at the forefront of evidence-based practice, in engaging with our future professionals. If you have questions about having part of your treatment delivered by a supervised student, please do speak to us in confidence.

You may decline to have a student present and this will not affect the care you receive.'

Am I able to charge my usual rate?

Yes! We encourage private practitioners to charge their normal rate, even if it is the student that is carrying out most of the treatment. In many ways the patient is in a fortunate position; not only do they your knowledge and expertise but the additional benefit of a student.

You may decide to add an ‘free’ 1-1 session with the student where they can review and supervise their exercise programme or carry out soft tissue work. It is important to consider ways of adding value with students by marketing additional sessions or longer treatment time free of charge.

Will private insurance providers have issue with a student carrying out the treatment?

Private insurers require for the practitioner who is fully qualified to provide the treatment session for patients, however this does not mean that students cannot be present in the room or involved in the treatment under supervision.

Is there any financial support available?

In England, placement providers receive a tariff per week per student. For further details on how to access this please see this link or co-ordinate with your local HEI. (link)

One private practice practitioner told us the only way it works for her business model is to have three students at a time and for her local HEI to support the administration required.

There is no such payment in Scotland, Wales or Ireland.

Helping students prepare

It is often beneficial to invite the student to meet with you at your practice prior to the placement commencing.

This will give the opportunity to explain how your clinic runs, what’s expected in terms of dress and timings, introduce them to others you may work with and explain the expected caseload and how you would like them to prepare.

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