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Practice Education

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Practice Education is a vital component of the undergraduate degree programme (BSc Clinical Speech & Language Studies) that enables students to graduate, meeting the standards of proficiency as specified by CORU. The Practice Education programme has been developed by the Department, in association with the profession, to facilitate the integration of theory to practice and the development of clinical competencies to ensure students join the Speech and Language Therapy profession as competent entrants. It combines college-based activities, tutorials, and practice placements in a range of clinical settings.

The Practice Education programme would not be possible without close collaboration with practising Speech and Language Therapists in their role as Practice Educators (PE), Practice Tutors (PT) or Regional Placement Facilitators (RPF). In addition to sharing professional knowledge and skills with the next generation being intrinsic to the role of all Speech and Language Therapists, there have been a variety of documented benefits of providing practice placements for students, for example, in:

  • supporting reflective practice, stimulates learning and encourages evidence-based practice
  • helping keep up to date with current practice, models, and theories
  • improving teaching, mentoring, and people management skills
  • providing a useful resource (e.g. another pair of hands for group work or new initiatives)
  • putting a different emphasis on day to day work, adds to the team dynamic, and brings energy
  • enabling structured and unstructured learning activities in relation to the practice education of students which are recognised by CORU as CPD credits.

We hope you find the following web pages and links helpful. If you have any additional questions or comments, please email Duana Quigley, Practice Education Coordinator (quigled1@tcd.ie) or phone (01- 896 1336, 086 145 3521).

How can I get involved in the practice education of students?

There are five different practice placements that occur each academic year – one for 2nd years, two for 3rd years, and two for 4th years:

Senior Fresh (2nd year)

Junior Sophister (3rd year)

Senior Sophister (4th year)

  • Main focus on nature of presenting disorders and assessment principles
  • 10-12 day weekly placement on Mondays (mid-January to early April)
  • Assessment in the practice setting: (a) continuous assessment on the national student clinical competency evaluation form; (b) clinical exam on a ‘seen’ client
  • Assessment in college: (a) OSCEs; (b) Professional Development Log
  • Main focus on intervention principles

(i) 10-12 day weekly placement on Thursdays (late September to early February)

  • Assessment in the practice setting: (a) continuous assessment on the national student clinical competency evaluation form; (b) clinical exam on a ‘seen’ client
  • Assessment in college: (a) Case presentation; (b) Professional Development Log

 (ii) 30 day block placement (early May to late June)

  • Assessment in the practice setting: continuous assessment on the national student clinical competency evaluation form
  • Assessment in college: (a) case presentation; (b) Professional Development Log
  • Focus on case management principles

(i) 9 day weekly placement on Mondays or Fridays (late September to early December)

  • Assessment in the practice setting: continuous assessment on the national student clinical competency evaluation form

(ii) 30 day block placement (late January to early April)

  • Assessment in the practice setting: (a) continuous assessment on the national student clinical competency evaluation form; (b) clinical exam on a ‘seen’ and an ‘unseen’ client
  • Assessment in college: Professional Development Log

You can share your offer of a practice placement by completing and returning the placement request form

What is my role as Practice Educator of students?

The term ‘Practice Educator’ encompasses many roles, such as learning facilitator, supervisor, trainer, tutor, mentor and examiner. As a Practice Educator, you are the key Speech and Language Therapist in the practice placement who facilitates the student’s learning and who also has the responsibility for providing formative and summative assessment of their clinical competence. This includes providing:

  • Clinical learning opportunities for students in the placement setting
  • Appropriate feedback to students to enable them to develop professional skills and clinical competencies (i.e., direct supervision for 2nd years, collaborative supervision for 3rd years, and consultative supervision for 4th years)
  • Formal evaluation of the student’s developing level of clinical competencies Each year, the Department delivers a workshop for Speech and Language Therapists that outlines the Practice Educator’s role in more detail.

We encourage all SLTs new to practice education to attend, along with SLTs looking to refresh their knowledge and skills. Further information on the roles and responsibilities of Practice Educators, along with those of the student and Higher Education Institution, are outlined in the Guidelines for Good Practice in Practice Education and Practice Educator Competencies, developed by the Therapy Project Office.

What do I have to do in terms of assessment of students?

For each practice placement, there are one* or two formal assessments of a student’s competencies to be completed.

The exact details of assessment requirements for each placement are always shared with practice educators before the placement commences. (*the clinical session exam component is not completed on the 3rd year block (Summer) placement or the 4th year weekly placement in Semester 1):

  • Mapping of student’s competencies on the National Student Clinical Competency Evaluation Form. To be completed at the mid- and end-point of all placements
  • The National Student Clinical Competency Evaluation Form enables you to review the student’s professional conduct (total of 10 competencies) and clinical competencies (total of 20 competencies).The student’s clinical competencies are rated by you as being either (i) not evident, (ii) emerging, (iii) evident, or (iv) plus level. National performance indicators are helpful in outlining in more detail what is expected at the evident level for the student’s stage
  • Practice Educators map the student’s competencies – a grade will be assigned by college based on your evaluation
  • The National Student Clinical Competency Evaluation Form can provide developmental feedback for students and can help them to set learning objectives and complete future learning plans.
  • Structured scenarios/case-based discussions can be used to assess competencies not yet observed or rated 2.

Clinical Exam For 2nd and 3rd years - the student is observed by the supervising Practice Educator (and another therapist) working with a ‘seen’ client (i.e. a client they have been working with during the placement, or a client from a client group they have been working with during placement). The process includes four components, as per the Clinical Exam Form:

(i) Files- The student files are examined for evidence that appropriate diagnostic and therapy competencies are developing along with the ability to maintain clinical records

(ii) Presentation - The students are required to give a brief oral summary of a client: relevant history, diagnosis and summary of therapy (this may occur before or after a session - no longer than 5 minutes)

(iii) Clinical session - The student is observed working with a client/group by two examiners (the Practice Educator/Practice Tutor and another therapist working in the setting)

(iv) Viva - The clinical session is followed by a short viva. 2nd year students are to be assessed on a minimum of 7 competencies and 3rd year students to be assessed on a minimum of 10 competencies

For 4th years - the student is observed working with two clients by the Practice Educator and a Practice Tutor (if available) or College Examiner: a ‘seen’ client as above and an ‘unseen’ client (i.e. a person who is new to the student). 4th year students are to be assessed on a minimum of 15 competencies. Clinical exam form

The mark for the clinical exam for all years is based on the National Student Clinical Competency Evaluation indicators that are relevant to the clinical and examination context.

Notification of Concern

Students cope in different ways with learning and managing the transitions that practice placements demand. Situations related to professional conduct or clinical competencies may arise including failure to meet standards of professional conduct, inadequate knowledge, an apparent difficulty acting on advice, lack of preparation for clinical work, or not achieving the expected competencies by their mid-placement review.

Practice Educators can contact the Department about any concerns they may have by either phone or email – no matter how minor the concern may seem! This contact allows for timely provision of additional supports for the student and/or the Practice Educator as well as referral to other College-based support services where indicated. In addition, where appropriate, we would be grateful if your concerns could be submitted in writing using the forms below.

Notification of concern of professional conduct form

Notification of concern of competency development form

What supports are available to me as a Practice Educator?

Practice Education is a vital component of SLT undergraduate programme and it would not be possible without your involvement. There are a number of supports available to you, and the Department is open to any other suggestions you may have.

  • Input at a team meeting or centre-based meeting
    • The Practice Education Coordinator is happy to attend a team meeting or centre-based meeting to discuss any aspect of Practice Education (e.g., upcoming placement, assessment of students’ competencies etc.)
  • CPD on the theme of Practice Education
    • Every year the department offers courses/ workshops on the themes of practice education. We encourage all SLTs new to practice education to attend, along with SLTs looking to refresh their knowledge and skills. Details can be found here: https://www.tcd.ie/slscs/continuing-professional-development/
    • The Health & Social Care Professions Education & Development unit of the HSE has supported the development of online resources for practice educators. To access the modules go to http://www.hseland.ie and then to Health & Social Care Professionals Hub.
    • There is also a short course on ‘Clinical Supervision’ available on FutureLearn https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/categories
    • Additional CPD opportunities are available at http://www.lpmde.ac.uk/, in particular the online modules at http://www.lpmde.ac.uk/professional-development/elearning-support-and-self-review-modules
    • Structured and unstructured learning activities in relation to the practice education of students are recognised by CORU as CPD credits. For example: ‘active engagement in supervision and mentoring’; ‘involvement in student practice education and providing placements’; ‘training on placement grading tools and overall assessment of students’; or ‘reading and reflecting on literature or case studies’.
  • Therapy Project Office publications
  • Practice Education Team Contact Details:

Duana Quigley, Practice Education Coordinator , 896 1336 / 086 145 3521, quigled1@tcd.ie

Aoife Mhic Mhathúna, Regional Placement Facilitator, Balinteer Health Centre: aoife.mhicmhathuna@hse.ie

Sarah Scott, Regional Placement Facilitator, Lusk Health Centre: sarah.scott@hse.ie

Niamh O’Loughlin, Practice Tutor, Connolly Hospital: niamh.oloughlin4@hse.ie

Emer Foley, Practice Tutor, St. James’ Hospital: EFoley2@stjames.ie

Sara Brennan, Practice Tutor, Beaumont Hospital: sarabrennan@beaumont.ie

Jessica Molloy, Practice Tutor, Mater Hospital: jemolloy@mater.ie

Marie Cox, Practice Tutor, National Rehabilitation Hospital: marie.cox@nrh.ie

Ciara Dunne, Practice Tutor, Enable Ireland: cdunne@enableireland.ie

Jenny Neary, Practice Tutor, Central Remedial Clinic: jneary@crc.ie

How can I support students registered with TCD’s Disability Service who are on placement?

Students who are registered with Trinity College’s Disability Service are entitled to supports in the form of reasonable accommodations while on a practice placement (Equal Status Act 2000-1; Disability Act, 2005). A needs assessment process completed by TCD’s Disability Service will take into account the nature of the disability, course requirements, and individual differences. They will produce a report with suggestions for practice placement supports. This is completed on a case by case basis and in accordance with the individual’s certified disability.

With the student’s consent, information about a student’s disability may be disclosed prior to placement and a formal placement planning meeting may be arranged to discuss reasonable accommodations. These may include assistive technology, additional time, accessible locations, frequent rests, or flexible hours.

Further information on Trinity College’s guides for students with disabilities: https://www.tcd.ie/disability/

Further information on Trinity College’s Equality Policy: http://www.tcd.ie/equality/

Other relevant information

Garda Vetting information & Precautions against infectious diseases information:

https://www.tcd.ie/study/admissions/index.php