What to do on placements

Prepare for your placements

Make sure that before you arrive, you know who and where you are meeting and what will be expected of you. Give yourself plenty of time to find the right place and dress appropriately. First impressions are important!

Be keen to get as involved as possible

Show that you are both enthusiastic and respectful, and where appropriate ask the doctor if you can get more involved. Examples of appropriate interactions may include asking to listen to a heart murmur or asking the patient a question, and relies on using your best judgement of the situation. Building a good rapport with the person you are shadowing will open up more opportunities for you and increase your learning.

Ask questions

Asking questions is enormously valuable- it creates a good impression, shows that you are engaged and interested, and allows you to learn more. Asking for someone’s insight or their personal experiences can be a useful tool. Construct your questions carefully — knowing the best question to ask is a valuable skill. Don’t be afraid to ask the doctor for clarification or for more information about something that you don’t understand. Jot down key things to research at the end of each day to maximise what you learn.

Develop your own personal attributes

If you want more practise speaking to the elderly or more experience working with the disabled, then use your work experience as your opportunity. For example, working in a care home provides ample opportunity to develop your caring, empathetic nature and gives you a chance to justify statements about your personal attributes. This will put you in good stead for interviews.

Understand the NHS as a system

The workings of the NHS are important and always come up in interviews. Ask important questions and vary your placements so that you are familiar with different sides of the NHS, including locally-based community care and, if possible, secondary care or hospice care. Think about the community services that are supported by the NHS and the teams that are involved in each layer of the NHS. Try to develop your understanding of the roles of different health care professionals and gain a better appreciation for the role of nurses, care assistants, health visitors, etc., as well as how their work is enhanced by their ability to work collaboratively.

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