Understanding the Allied Health Professions Student Experience of Practice Placements during the First Wave of the Coronavirus Pandemic
In England, a national lockdown came into effect on 23 March 2020 in response to the rapid spread of the Coronavirus. Healthcare services were quickly redesigned or scaled back to meet the significant and rising demands. Many practice placements were discontinued, which resulted in large numbers of Allied Health Professions (AHPs) pre-registration students requiring placements to meet the required practice hours. The challenge for placement providers, who were experiencing increased demand and uncertainty, was to continue providing quality placements. At the local trust, 58 AHP students had a placement between April and July 2020. Some clinical areas offered traditional placements. However due to social distancing rules many placements utilised blended practice; using aspects of both direct face-to-face and remote practice. It is important to understand the student experience in anticipation of future surges of Coronavirus. In total, 36 students responded to a placement survey. Results showed the majority of the students reported positive placement experiences overall. Despite the ever-changing placement landscape and the need for flexibility, it is important to ensure that placements are well planned and that students are well informed about the safety measures in place. It is vital that student’s feel welcomed and valued in order to learn and reach their full potential whilst on placement. The use of a blended placement model provided valuable learning experiences, however consideration needs to be given to ensure that students feel part of the team and have confidence that their learning needs are met.
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