Look To The Future

A quick question for my fellow healthcare professionals out there.  Do you regularly volunteer to take students and look forward to them coming? Or do you regularly volunteer reasons why it is not appropriate for you to have a student?  In my experience you will probably fall into one camp or the other.

I am fortunate to be part of a team that is passionate about the role we play in the clinical education of Speech and Language Therapists.  We encourage a continuous cycle of students through our department and see this as an opportunity for not only students and therapists, but also for our clients and for our profession. This enthusiasm and drive has just been recognised in the 2013 Advancing Healthcare Awards where we won this year’s award for Supporting the Future Workforce.

I often hear people say that they can’t take students because they are too busy or because their department is short staffed. This troubles me because it appears to reflect a perception that students are extra work rather than another pair of hands (not to mention another brain) which can actually lighten the load on hard pressed professionals. Having a student means that I have someone else who is putting time and effort into preparing for the clients we will be seeing that day and all that they ask of me in return is direction, feedback and support – that sounds like a fair exchange to me.

Others protest that their caseload is too specialised or too complex for a student placement. Are they suggesting that those who work in areas of high specialism are not using core, transferable skills or drawing upon theoretical frameworks which apply to other areas of clinical practice? I do hope not. Those of us working in areas of complex need provide students with a unique opportunity to see how their core training and knowledge base can be applied in a wide variety of roles and settings.

My caseload is busy, specialised and complex, and students love it! And just to prove it, I am excited to announce that my first guest blog (which will be published next week) will be by Laura who is currently studying at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh and recently completed a mental health clinical placement with our Speech and Language Therapy service.

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9 thoughts on “Look To The Future

  1. Although I can’t say that I “look forward” to students, they do renew your enthusiasm, and make you proud of the work you do. They also make you question your own actions and reflect much more regularly on why you do what you do! I think when you have specialist skills you want to tell everyone why what you do is important, and although I find it an increase in workload to have a student, we all had to learn and will always remember the supervisors that taught us the most. I always hope that my students will become converts to my special interests and spread the word to the next generation of professionals.

    • Thanks for that Sally. I also love the questions that students ask and how they need me to be clear about my clinical decision-making. If I can inspire just one to consider taking their career into the field of mental health I will be proud.

  2. There’s nothing like having a student to help you reflect on your clinical practice! I do find that, depending on year of study, I really need to help a student tease out the transferable skills if they haven’t had the chance to consolidate some of their learning yet. That can take time – but it is time well spent, and time that also teaches you a lot about who you are as a clinician.

  3. well done Susan, I am in your camp in Dundee Mental Health we love having students I find them inspiring and it keeps our practice fresh and up to date. We currently have 2 in our small department with students contacting me regularly to shaddow us during their break, we also encourage our students to keep in touch as it is nice for our team to hear their success. Yes there is extra work to do when preparing for a student placement but the rewards far out weigh this.
    I remember being a student and the good experiences and not so good ones so I hope that our students have a good experience and that is always in my mind we have them in the department.

    Cheers Gill McDonald

  4. Pingback: Look To The Future | weeklyblogclub

  5. Thank you for that blog Susan! I’m afraid I get incredibly annoyed with colleagues who don’t want to/won’t take students. We were all students once and we were given the opportunity to have placements. I find it hugely selfish to deny others the same opportunities.
    Ten years (plus) on I still remember my good placements fondly, I want to be remembered fondly too!!

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