Allied Health Student Clinical Placements: is the placement mix right?

Ms Kassie Shardlow1, Mr Mark  Gooding2, Ms Susan  Stoikov1

1Metro South Health, , Australia, 2Townsville Hospital and Health Service, Townsville, Australia


Clinical placements are fundamental to supporting student transition to practice including opportunities for students to provide direct clinical care to patients and engage in other learning experiences.

A recent study demonstrated students spent 55% of clinical placement time providing direct clinical care with the remaining 45% of time spent participating in non-clinical activities, however the breakdown of these activities is undescribed.  Further investigation into the type and time students spent in ‘non-clinical’ activities during placements is essential.


To develop a data collection tool to capture student activity during student placements, including a breakdown of clinical and non-clinical tasks.

To determine the activity profile of physiotherapy students during clinical placements, specifically identifying a breakdown of their non-clinical tasks.


A data collection tool was developed, trialled and implemented identifying the daily clinical and non-clinical activities performed by students.  The tool was completed by 165 physiotherapy students in five Queensland Public Health Service hospitals. Data were collected over four, five-week placement blocks in four areas of clinical practice.  Data were analysed using descriptive statistics.


Analysis supported the previous study demonstrating that students spent 49% of their time engaged in non-clinical activities.  Activities included: self-directed learning (18%), receiving feedback (7%), attending inservices/tutorials (7%), work-shadowing (4%) and recording statistics (4%).  Other activities (total 9%) included peer supervision, orientation and undefined non-clinical tasks.   Analysis revealed a decrease in time spent in non-clinical activities from weeks 1 to 5 of placement with a concomitant increase in clinical care time.


Students spent significant amounts of time engaged in activities that support both service delivery and best practice clinical learning. This presentation will explore the breakdown (mix) of student activities, including how activities changed throughout the duration of placement.   Implications for practice, including the structuring of allied health student placements, will also be discussed.


As Queensland’s Physiotherapy Clinical Education & Training Program Manager, Kassie provides strategic planning and professional leadership of state-wide clinical education and training initiatives for the Queensland Health Physiotherapy workforce and students.  She’s passionate about the provision of high-quality education that supports the delivery of safe and effective health care.   Kassie has extensive experience in the clinical education and training of physiotherapy students and staff in a variety of clinical areas of physiotherapy. She chairs the Queensland Physiotherapy Clinical Education & Training Advisory Group and is the immediate past chair of the Queensland Physiotherapy Placement Collaborative.

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