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.