What happens on allied health clinical education placements? An audit of current practice in pre-registration physiotherapy, occupational therapy and nutrition and dietetics

Dr Fiona Kent1,2, Mrs Kelly Saber1

1Monash Health, Cheltenham, Australia

2Monash University, Clayton, Australia


Background: Staff time is required for the organisation of clinical placements, student teaching, feedback and assessment, resulting in an impact of service delivery. Multiple clinical education models may be utilised, including peer assisted learning (PAL), simulation (SIM) and interprofessional education (IPE). There is a need to understand current education practices to ensure equity, sustainability and alignment to best practice.


Aims: To determine the time and models of clinical education currently in use. To align educational literature with current practice and make recommendations regarding future directions.


Methods: A two week prospective audit of clinical education practice was conducted from the perspectives of students and clinical educators.


Results: 207 clinical placement days were audited. Reasonable variation in education practice was identified, with clinical staff engaging in embedded supervisor activities 160 mins per day (median) and learner facilitator activities 55 minutes per day (median). Final year physiotherapy students saw a median of five patients per day, occupational therapy students saw three patients per day and third year dietetic students two patients per day. Education models in use by clinical placement day were PAL (34%), IPE (18%) and SIM (3%).


Significance of the findings to allied health: There are opportunities for standardisation of clinical education practice. Educational leadership and continued investment in upskilling clinical educators in PAL, IPE and SIM models will be key to this process.