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Article
Publication date: 16 June 2022

Duana Quigley, Claire Poole, Sinead Whiting, Erna O'Connor, Claire Gleeson and Lucy Alpine

Work-based placements are central to the university education of allied health and social work (AHSW) students. As a result of COVID-19, the clinical learning environment of…

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Abstract

Purpose

Work-based placements are central to the university education of allied health and social work (AHSW) students. As a result of COVID-19, the clinical learning environment of students' work-based placements was dramatically altered resulting in numerous documented challenges. This inter-disciplinary study aimed to evaluate AHSW students' perceptions and experiences of completing a diverse range of work-based placements during COVID-19.

Design/methodology/approach

This study was a mixed-method inter-disciplinary study using an anonymous online survey consisting of multiple choice, Likert scale and free text questions. Mixed-methods design supported amalgamation of insights from positivism and interpretivism perspectives and enabled research questions to be answered with both breadth and depth. 436 students were invited to participate who were enrolled in five AHSW educational university programmes: speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, radiation therapy and social work. Data collected was analysed using both quantitative (descriptive and analytical statistics) and qualitative (thematic analysis) methods.

Findings

118 students participated (response rate: 27%) representing a range of AHSW disciplines who attended diverse placement settings. While there was extensive disruption in the learning environment leading to increased levels of stress and concern, a triad of individual and systemic supports helped to ensure positive work-based placement experiences and student success for the majority of AHSW students during COVID-19: (1) university preparation and communication; (2) placement site and supervisor support; and (3) students' resilience and capacity to adapt to a changed work-place environment.

Originality/value

This inter-disciplinary study reports the work-based placement experiences from the professional education programmes of healthcare students during the COVID-19 pandemic, giving a unique view of their perspectives and learning during this unprecedented crisis.

Details

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, vol. 13 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-3896

Keywords

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