Supporting students in challenging times

This article was originally published in the APCP Newsletter 1-2-21

Every student that starts a new placement will always feel slightly nervous about what is ahead and what is expected of them ... since COVID 19 those expectations have become less clear.

Despite the challenges faced by all services during the current pandemic, it is important that paediatric services continue to support clinical placements to ensure a strong workforce for the future.  Supervisors have needed to adapt their traditional  clinical placement, and students' experiences have been very different to what they would have experienced 12 months ago, but clinical placements remain a critical part of a student's training and development.

Jade Dikken, Physiotherapy Student from the University of Southampton and her clinical supervisor Binita Shah share their experiences of undertaking a clinical placement during the COVID-19 pandemic .

Binita Shah - Clinical Supervisor (Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust) writes ...

'During this time of change and uncertainty the thought of taking on a student may be daunting however please consider the benefits not only to them but to the profession as a whole.  Although your student may not have the opportunity to see as many patients face to face as they would normally, the experience of the changing world of assessment and treatment will be of huge benefit to these students when they start their careers.   Also, thinking outside the box, by engaging students in service planning, leadership shadowing and other non-clinical activities will give them skills which traditional student placements may not have given them.  Who knows, they may even turn out to be more holistic in their approach.  We are very fortunate in our Trust to have a closely working community and acute paediatric service and therefore have been able to offer a varied and all-encompassing student placement.  If we support the universities in training up students they will be resilient and dynamic as well as professional.'

Jade writes of her experience ...

'Every student that starts a new placement will always feel slightly nervous about what is ahead and what is expected of them ... since COVID 19 those expectations have become less clear.  I landed a great placement in paediatrics at Worthing Hospital which started at the beginning of January, just after the announcement of lockdown.  As soon as I arrived I was taken under the wing of the team, they understood that times were uncertain and were trying to get me as much face to face, between the acute and community teams, as possible.  By my first two weeks I had been on the ward; seen and assessed children in outpatients; been to the orthotic clinic; attended the under fives and motor clinic; joined the chronic pain team with the MDT including a psychologist; helped assess in community visits; sat in team meetings and had time to be taught new pathologies in one to one teaching sessions.

Over this time I have begun to realise that although the time with face to face patients has dropped I am still learning and experiencing something new every day.  Being at the hospital, although it isn’t like a normal placement, allows me to ask physiotherapists questions and then compare what I have learnt to the patients we do see.  It has helped me understand the importance of the MDT, especially in the under 5s triage and motor clinic; and shown me how the community and acute team transition and communicate about their patients.

As a student, the majority of us, will want any experience we can get.  In this difficult time that could mean shadowing a member of the MDT for a couple of hours or working with the health assistants on the adult ward.  Physiotherapy isn’t just about learning how to talk to and treat a patient, it is also about learning the importance of teamwork, experiencing the hardships that hospitals face and being flexible with the opportunities we are given.  I am thoroughly enjoying my placement and continue to learn new skills everyday that one day I can put into practice in the near future.'


APCP Supporting Students on Clinical Placement

APCP will grant students complimentary FULL access to the APCP website for the duration of their clinical placement.



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