Preparation is everything! Feeling well prepared and in control will provide a smooth orientation and will allow you to challenge the student at an appropriate level for successful learning.

If this is the first student placement for your work facility, then preparation may take some time initially. However, it will certainly make things easier for the next time you supervise a student.

Below are some helpful suggestions for setting up:

An orientation folder will be a very helpful reference tool for the student and for you when orientating the student. It sets the clinical scene for the student, and serves as a prompt for you to ensure that you cover all the important orientation information.

You may like to include in the orientation folder some or all of the following :

  • General introduction to the service/facility/organisation : mission statement, philosophy, services offered, inter-disciplinary departments, standards of practice, lines of communication/reporting, funding source, hours of practice, costs to client etc.
  • Uniform standards
  • Map of the center
  • Facilities: i.e. canteens, food outlets, banks, post office, public phones, amenities
  • Map of the township if student is not local or locality is rural or remote
  • Public transport depots/timetables
  • Staff lists with role/discipline : can include a checklist of staff that you would like to schedule time for the student meet with
  • Meal times/breaks : typical staff meal times/socialisation opportunities, any cultural norms eg. bring a cake on your birthday
  • Information on routine procedures : booking cars, in/out communication board, phone messages, use of email/internet/computers etc.
  • WH& S and Emergency procedures
  • Job descriptions, particularly that of the OT at the center
  • Assessment and treatment procedures used at your center
  • Reference to Policy and Procedures Manual
  • Report writing protocols and standards
  • Confidentiality policies and other ethical issues
  • Guidelines for recording statistics
  • Relevant Acts and Legislation e.g. Mental Health Act
  • Information or guidelines relating to providing sensitive and culturally appropriate communication and care for specific client groups
  • Expectations of professional behaviour, including any written protocols on behaviours e.g protocol for observing clients, codes of conduct
  • Timetable of regular departmental meetings and in-services
  • Caseload specific information
  • List of tutorial topics
  • List of visits or orientation tasks that the student could arrange to other relevant departments or facilities
  • Any pre-reading materials that may reinforce their theoretical knowledge relevant to the work they will be doing
  • Special requirements eg. travel requirements, accommodation etc.

Refer to Template 2.1: The Orientation Folder Checklist

Suggestion sheet 2.1: The Orientation Folder for Private Practice

Template 2.3: Orientation Folder Checklist for Private Practice

An orientation timetable that is comprehensive, logical and graded will be appreciated by the student and helpful to you in providing the student with the information they need to be able to start consolidating and building on their learning and taking on the responsibilities and challenges set for them in the coming weeks.

The first two weeks is best allocated to working through the information from the orientation folder and for general orientation to the organisation, staff, clientele, caseload and the wards or units within which they will work. Resources and referral practices, expectations regarding documentation and for scheduling of orientation tasks and activities, meetings and pre-scheduled appointments can also occur in the first two weeks of placement.

Importantly, you should also allow time in the first week for developing and/or reviewing the student's learning goals and expectations and also discussing with them their preferred learning styles.

Also, during this time, be sure to schedule in plenty of time for valuable client contact and observation. You, and other staff members are role models and the student can learn a lot about the subtleties of client interaction by observing you. Observation allows the student to gently move from classroom mode to an understanding of the real-life situation. (Clinical Placement Advisory Committee [CPAC}, 1997)

"Clinical skill is easier demonstrated than described [and], like ballet, it is best learned in front of a mirror" (Jack Ende,1983)

Orientation to a new role and position can often be a very challenging and overwhelming time for the student so to avoid information overload, allow some spaces in the timetable for quiet time that the student can dedicate to reading or reviewing articles, case-studies, relevant publications or for self-directed orientation.

It may also be useful to provide an orientation checklist of all the information, tasks, activities, site visits and meetings that should be included in the orientation so that you and the student can check them off as you go. For an example, go to:

Template 2.1: The orientation folder checklist.

Plan for the student to have a diary so that by the third week, they can begin keeping their own timetable.

"The students need you to model good time management". Encourage use of diaries, time-management strategies. Students don't often come with them".

S. Bartholomai, OT clinical Educator, collaborative placement model (personal communication, May,31,2007)


Orientation Timetable

  • Comprehensive, logical and graded.
  • Start general and move to specifics
  • Review and refine student learning goals
  • Recognise student's preferred learning style
  • Provide opportunity for client contact and observation
  • Avoid overwhelming with information
  • Allow quiet time for reading, reflection and self-directed learning
  • Orientation checklist
  • Student diary