Placements are a very important part of vocational training, and make up a vital part of your course if you’re studying a vocational programme that leads to professional registration (such as Nursing, Midwifery, Medicine or Dentistry, and other allied health professions like Physiotherapy and Radiography). During your placements you will be required to apply and build upon your theoretical knowledge and practical skills that you have been taught, or will be taught, in the classroom.
Going on placement can be one of the best experiences of your life but it’s understandable that it might be quite a daunting prospect at first. We've put together some quick information to help you while you're away, and to remind you that the Students' Union is still here for you, even if you're not in Cardiff at the moment.
Where will I be on placement?
Placement providers are primarily situated in health and social care settings across South East Wales (such as Newport, Swansea, Abergavenny and Cardiff), although students may also have an opportunity to pursue non-traditional placements in the private and third sectors. To find out more about your placements you should have a point of contact within your School that is responsible for placements – sometimes called a Practice Education Facilitator (a PEF), a Placement Officer, or there might be a designated member of staff who helps to support placements and students whilst they’re away. If you don’t know who this person is, contact your Undergraduate or Postgraduate Hub.
Students are sometimes required to source their own placement opportunities, or to work with the University to support them in finding the appropriate placement for them. Your placement tutor/facilitator should be able to tell you what is expected of you in terms of placements.
The University expects students who need to undertake a placement should:
- Be aware of your responsibility to find a suitable placement by the due date, if this is applicable;
- Be aware that their responsibility to prepare for and show commitment to placement begins upon enrolment;
- Make full use of individual departmental and central University assistance and support;
- Understand and adhere to any assessment requirements for placement;
- Attend ALL required placement briefings and debriefings organised by individual and central university departments;
- Behave appropriately at ALL times (before, during, after, in and out of work), acting to enhance the reputation of all parties involved.
- When you arrive at your place of work there may be a number of things which are unclear to you. It is natural to have that feeling of being the ‘new person’, but try not to be too anxious. Someone at work should be appointed as your supervisor or mentor. They will be the person to answer any queries and help you settle in.
- It is a good idea to meet with your supervisor or manager when you begin your placement and set objectives for yourself, and so that you understand what they expect from you. It is also a good idea to arrange to meet regularly to review your progress and to receive feedback. Make sure that you get a final review before you leave.
- Make sure you arrive on time. This may seem obvious, but if you’re starting a new placement in an unfamiliar facility, it is important that you are prepared. How are you getting there? Do you know the way? Is there parking available? What time is your shift? And is that your arrival time, or the time that you need to be on the ward? These are all really important things to remember and can help to set the tone for your shift and placement as a whole.
- A little enthusiasm goes a long way. Try not to let those nerves show if you can help it. If you can throw yourself into your placement, you are likely to get a lot more out of it, recognising the boundaries of what you can and can’t do as a student (and asking if you’re not sure).
- Get to know your team – we’re not suggesting going out for cocktails but demonstrate your willingness to learn and support the team. You are on placement to develop your skills, but a positive experience with your peers is conducive to your learning, and is likely to improve your overall experience, especially on difficult days.
- Be professional – outside of the staffroom you are expected to have a professional approach to confidentiality and to keep your emotions in check.
- Be aware of your limitations; no one is expecting you to be an expert immediately. In a high risk environment, it is important that you seek help if you need it. If you are asked to perform a task, you should always be supervised by a skilled practitioner. If you have been told by someone that you can perform something unsupervised – double-check. This is a common issue on placement and so asking and checking your competency is always best.
- Reflect on your experiences regularly. We understand that placement reflections are built into your programme, but building time into your day to reflect on what you have learnt and accomplished can be an effective learning tool.
Cardiff University provides a remote access service using PCs located in each of the NHS hospital-based libraries which connect to the University network.
You can connect using a Library Workstation/PC which has been set up with a shortcut to the remote desktop service. These computers allow you to launch a Windows desktop, which is connected to the Cardiff network.
Find out more about this here.
NHS Wales Hospital Libraries and Placement Library Cards
If you're on placement in NHS Wales, you will be entitled to join the hospital-based libraries and borrow material.
Books from the University can also be obtained via these libraries as Cardiff University and NHS Wales libraries work in partnership to provide an Inter-Library Loan service.
Before you go on your first placement, a placement library card should be issued to you which will allow you to borrow books at NHS Health Boards/Trust libraries around Wales (except in Cardiff and the Vale University Health Board, including University Hospital Llandough or Velindre NHS Trust).
You should be notified in the weeks before your placement that your card is ready for you to collect from the enquiry desk on the first floor of the Health Library. You can only use this card in the specific hospital library where you are on placement.
When registering to use the placement card, you agree to:
- Only use the card in the library where you are on placement.
- Return borrowed material by its due date and respond to the recall of any material on loan.
- Potentially incur fines for the late return of material or be charged for replacement items.
- Renew books on the placement card directly at the placement library (they cannot be renewed online).
- Return all material before leaving a placement.
- Clear your account before taking books out at a new placement.
- Pay for a replacement copy and a handling/processing charge for any lost items.
- Pay £5 for a replacement placement card.
Student Advice can help you with a range of issues while you are placement. We specialise in things like academic advice on issues such as fitness to practise, and concerns or worries you may have about your placement. We offer a confidential service that is independent from the University.
You don't need to be in Cardiff to use the Student Advice service. Our team advise via email so you can contact us even when you’re away.
Your student life supported
Stay in touch with the University Student Life teams throughout your placement and during your studies to access the full range of support available to you. This includes the Student Disability Service, Counselling and Wellbeing Service, and the Student Funding and Advice Team. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org // 029 22 518 888.
The Student Occupational Health team can help you with enrolment screening, immunisations, fitness to study, fitness to practise, tips for maintaining good health. Get in touch: StudentOccHealth@Cardiff.ac.uk
Student Academic Representatives
You can still raise any ideas, issues or opinions about your course or placement with your Student Academic Rep. Student Academic Reps are volunteers who voice the questions, queries and concerns of their fellow students to the University.
Reps take any feedback that you might have to Student Staff Panels. Here students and University staff discuss topics that affect your education. Together they come up with action plans on how the University can improve your course and placement experience.
Whilst you are expected to adhere to the University’s procedures and regulations whilst on placement, you are not alone on placement. Student Advice is here for you, and can arrange virtual appointments if needed whilst you are away.
Concerns Whilst on Placement
If you are concerned about anything you see, hear, or experience on placement, you should raise it. It is important that you understand how to raise a concern, should one arise.
Very importantly, you are expected to be open and honest at all times and so must immediately report any circumstances which may adversely impact your (or anyone else's) fitness to practise to your School. These might be health issues, any police involvement resulting from your behaviour or alleged behaviour, other statutory body investigation or other issues of probity or breach of professional body standards. Failure to be open and honest can be seen as a far more serious issue than the original concern.
If you feel that you need to raise an issue about your placement, it is important to do so appropriately and professionally, and using the appropriate procedures to safeguard from any potential Fitness to Practise concerns. Raising a concern in itself is not necessarily a reason for a Fitness to Practise referral, provided that you have done so in the correct way and using the correct process. When you’re on the ward, or in clinic, it’s important that you establish who you can go to with any concerns – this might be the Ward Manager or Practice Manager, or somebody else. If you don’t know who you can go to with a concern – ask.
Sometimes, there might be an issue on your placement that you feel you need to make the University aware of. It’s important to know that you should have a point of contact within your School that is responsible for placements – sometimes called a Practice Education Facilitator (a PEF), a Placement Officer, or there might be a designated member of staff who helps to support placements and students whilst they’re away. If you don’t know who this person is, contact your Undergraduate or Postgraduate Hub.
Do not post any information about your placement on social media. Regardless of your privacy settings, ‘Close Friends’ or restricted access, social media is never private and is always permanent. Professional bodies will have their own guidance about use of social media on their websites, and you will be expected to adhere to these at all times whilst on placement and in academic study, so it’s important that you’re aware of these. This includes:
- Naming the placement, University, hospital or placement setting in social media posts;
- Posting patient information, no matter if this is anonymised;
- Posting information about staff members, University, hospital or placement setting or your opinions on them.
If you have an issue on placement, you can contact Student Advice to discuss this independently, impartially and confidentially.
Something’s happened on placement. What should I do?
Openness, honesty and candour are very important in healthcare settings, so it’s important that if something has happened on the ward or in clinic, or another setting, you tell someone immediately in the interest of patient safety. Raising this sooner rather than later is likely to be a much better course of action than waiting until it’s picked up or raised to you.
If you think something has happened on placement that could lead to a Fitness to Practise referral being made, contact Student Advice. We can discuss the circumstances with you and help you decide what to do next.
The University could also initiate a Fitness to Practise investigation if they have concerns about your wellbeing. Again, you are expected to be open and honest at all times and so must immediately report any circumstances which may adversely impact your (or anyone else's) fitness to practise to your School.
It’s important that you are aware of the support that is available for you, even though you’re away on placement. Student Advice can facilitate online or telephone appointments, and we can talk through your options and the support available if needed.
Beyond this, you should be aware that whilst you are on placement, you are entitled to:
- An appropriate learning experience;
- A safe working environment;
- Be treated in accordance with applicable legislation.
If you are concerned about any of the above, contact Student Advice. We are independent from the University, and any advice provided will be given confidentially, unless we believe there is an imminent risk to you or others.
Contact Student Advice
+44 (0)2920 781410