Successful student friendly learning environments demonstrate:

  • A strong team focus and respect for each discipline’s role
  • Genuinely approachable and friendly work colleagues
  • Approachable and friendly management and director

(N.Flynn, OT clinical educator, Mater Private Hospital, personal communication, June, 6,2007)

  • Keep students “on the agenda” by informing and updating staff regarding student placement dates and expectations and reminding them of the benefits of having students.
  • Ensure that staff are notified once the student has arrived, and of what the expectations and level of client involvement will be from week to week.
  • Make a point of introducing the student to all possible work colleagues and staff so that the student is recognised, accepted and included appropriately.
  • Make the student a part of work social activities, including shared meal breaks, celebratory lunches or dinners.
    • “[Our facility] encourages students to become a part of the department ... we provide welcome and farewell lunches for them and integrate them into our administration tasks such as taking responsibility for writing up meeting minutes”. S. Bartholomai, OT clinical educator, collaborative placement model (personal communication, May 31, 2007)
  • Inform the student of any team issues that may be impacting on the work environment or team morale so as to allay any anxieties that the student may have that the stress is caused by them.
  • Provide adequate working space and storage space, such as a locker, and set this up before the student arrives. It is important that the student has access to some desk space and a storage area that they can call their own for, folders and personal items, reading materials and from which to write reports, reflections and study.
    • “Students are allocated to a space, in our case a room, with their own computer. This avoids any staff contentions about students using their workstation. It is important for students to have their own space for peer discussions and de-briefing in privacy, and to work on projects.” (S. Bartholomai, personal communication, May, 31,2007)
  • Try to plan ahead, so that if it is necessary for the student to move around to desks of other staff who are away, then the staff member has a chance to clear their desk and remove any confidential materials.
  • Ensure that keys, name badges, car-park passes etc are all organised ahead of time if possible.
  • Ensure that the clinical environment is a ‘safe’ place to make mistakes. Monitor the student’s performance and be careful to set and structure tasks appropriate to student’s level of learning.
  • Consider the development of a ‘Client Information and Consent Form’ to student involvement in client consultation and treatment, to ensure that clients are fully informed, aware and accepting of the degree of student involvement, and level of clinical supervision.

(Clinical Placement Advisory Committee [CPAC], 1997)


Reference: Clinical Placement Advisory Committee [CPAC] (1997) Clinical Educator’s Survival Guide. A resource handbook for occupational therapists supervising students on placement. University of Queensland. Division of Occupational Therapy. Australia