Clinical placements are an essential part of Nursing and Midwifery degree programmes across the UK. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) require nursing (NMC, 2010) and midwifery (NMC, 2009) students to complete no less than 50% of the programme in the clinical area.
Currently, the School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies (SONMS) at Cardiff University works with a number of healthcare organisations to provide a range of suitable clinical placements for over a thousand nursing and midwifery students three times a year so that at the end of the programme you will have experienced healthcare provision that is wide ranging and is suitable for your chosen programme and branch if you are completing the nursing degree.
Here, we will explain where you may be placed and how your placements are allocated taking into account your learning needs, where you live and where the placements are located.
Where does the School have clinical placements?
The two main organisations that the School uses for placements are Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Aneurin Bevan Local Health Board. However, the School also places students to Velindre NHS Trust, Cwm Taf Local Health Board and a number of independent health sector organisations. Placements can be in hospitals, nursing homes and in the community across South East Wales.
Geographically, these placements are mainly situated from Barry in the West to Chepstow in the East and from Cardiff in the South to Abergavenny and Merthyr to the North. However, there are also placements in Swansea and Port Talbot plus a range of community placements across Cardiff, the Vale of Glamorgan, Caerphilly and the Rhymney Valley, Newport, Abergavenny, Monmouth and the Gwent Valleys.
Therefore, whilst the School is mainly based in central Cardiff and there are placements in and around the main school campus you will see that a large number of available placements are outside of central Cardiff. The location of placements and the fact that the majority of students (70-80%) live in central Cardiff will mean that as a student you will need to expect to travel to some placements during your programme.
How are clinical placements allocated?
Your placements are allocated using your term time address, type of experience required and availability of appropriate support in clinical areas. In order for you to be able to plan you will be provided with your ‘Placement Line’ at the beginning of each academic year which details the expected clinical areas you are going to be allocated to. The placement lines ensure that your placements are suitable for your educational needs, provide a variety of clinical settings; and equity in the travel for all students with at least one placement a year being close to your term time address and one where you will need to travel.
Can I change my placement?
In exceptional circumstances you are able to request that your placement is changed. A full range of exceptional circumstances are offered in the School’s protocol for requesting a change of placement; however, examples include relatives who are patients (or staff) on the expected placement or perhaps you have been a patient there.
Will I need a car?
Your placements will have been allocated so that you are able to get there using public transport. The longest you would be expected to travel by public transport is approximately 90 minutes; however, these would be the exception and you would normally be able to reach placement using public transport in approximately 30-60 minutes. Some students do use cars for the longer distance placements but you will need to ensure that you have business class insurance and complete car user forms if you intend to use a car.
What hours will I work?
People require healthcare 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year in a variety of settings. As a student the NMC require that you experience the full range of clinical experiences including the need to work outside of the traditional working week of Monday to Friday 9 to 5. Therefore, you will be expected to work morning shifts which start between 7am and 8am in the morning, afternoon shifts which can finish as late as 9.30pm, night shifts and weekends.
What if I am ill or have to look after a dependent?
Everyone at some time may be ill or need to look after a sick relative or child. Life is complicated and other events may also mean that you are unable to attend placement. However, as the NMC have regulations on the time you spend in placement you would need to make up those hours and the School will help you negotiate how that can be achieved.
More information can be found at the Clinical Practice and Placement Support website