Developing the student experience through the Practice Educator role

Published: 30 August 2017 Ezine

Author: David Smith, Practice Educator, Medical Imaging & Medical Physics, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation NHS Trust

At the end of August 2016 I was appointed to the role of Practice Educator for radiography students at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals. 

As one of the largest NHS trusts in the country we employ over 230 radiographers who are distributed over our 5 hospital sites which host more than 10 DR rooms, not to mention the plethora of other specialist services as alternative modalities.

Naturally, this can be daunting to students who come to us for their clinical placement. It was therefore imperative to appoint someone as a dedicated point of contact to support and organise the 40+ students rotating through our clinical areas.

By liaising closely with the students and their respective universities, it is my job to ensure they are fully supported and the training they receive is relevant to their current learning outcomes.

This can be simply ensuring students are rotated into areas that are relevant or alternatively, organising talks on specific areas of practice to help their understanding. 

My role may start with students, but it certainly doesn’t end there. I have worked with researchers at the University of Sheffield to create a training package to improve the quality of feedback provided by radiographers within our trust.

These skills are transferable and allow us to improve the quality of the feedback we provide to students and our trainee assistant practitioners.  

I personally carry out inductions for all of our students and ensure they feel happy within our imaging departments. The local induction I carry out introduces the students to our trust,  our values, our expectations of them, our staff and the students support team. In addition to this students are shown around the department and given a comprehensive induction guide. I then go on to ensure they are enrolled onto a Mandatory Training programme during their time with us. 

We have always had a reputation as a directorate for supporting training and learning for all our staff and this extends to our students.

Some of our students have had opportunities to go on the Radiology Red Dot course in London, your Head & Neck Cancer Study Morning, First aid courses and a Hystersalpinography Study Day, to name but a few. 

In addition to looking after our students from Sheffield Hallam University, I also process and rota elective students from all over the country and in some cases the world!

When students apply for an elective placement with us, we ask what they hope to gain from the placement and with that information I create a tailored plan to ensure they see as much as they can to reach their goals. By analysing the feedback from elective students it is possible to continue to improve the elective placements we offer.