Practice Education

Practice Education is that special part of a professional educational programme in which students gain 'hands-on' experience of working with clients under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. Practice Education integrates academic knowledge with practical knowledge, as students focus on the application of their knowledge, skills and attitudes in ‘real-life’ situations.

It is a compulsory element of an undergraduate programme for health care practitioners and in most programmes, it constitutes approximately one third of the programme.

Students on the BSc Physiotherapy programme must complete 1000 hours of supervised clinical practice, before graduating. Physiotherapy graduates from Trinity College Dublin are also eligible for statutory registration under CORU, which is Ireland’s multi-profession health regulator.

Trinity College Dublin provides placements in various acute, chronic and rehabilitation clinical settings in the greater Dublin area and the Leinster region.

These placements are undertaken in a variety of settings reflecting the diversity of work settings available to a qualified physiotherapist. Students achieve a broad and varied experience of physiotherapy practice with a wide range of patients, clinical locations and treatment approaches. High standards of clinical placement are achieved through the continued support and co-operation of the physiotherapists working in these clinical sites.

Clinical placements are spread throughout the undergraduate programme as follows:

Placement Number (Pn) Duration Year
P1 6 weeks 2nd year
P2 6 weeks 3rd year
P3 6 weeks 3rd year
P4 7 weeks 4th year
P5 6 weeks 4th year

There are three ‘core’ areas of placement for physiotherapy students:

  • Musculoskeletal
  • Cardiorespiratory
  • Neurological

All clinical placements are assessed using the Common Assessment Form and contribute to the students final degree award.

The Discipline of Physiotherapy in Trinity College Dublin also operates an ERASMUS exchange programme with Karolinska University in Stockholm, Sweden. The Discipline of Physiotherapy are also working with other European partners to provide ERASMUS opportunities in Malta in the fourth year of the degree course


Practice Educators

While on placement, each student is supported by a Practice Educator Competencies. Practice Educator is the title given to individual physiotherapists who facilitate student learning generally on a face-to-face daily basis and have responsibility for the formative and /or summative assessment of competence.

Practice Tutors

The HSE funds Practice Tutor posts which are based primarily in practice education placement provider sites and provide support to students and practice educators. The role of a practice tutor is to organise and co-ordinate student placements within the healthcare setting, and to support students and educators throughout the learning and assessment process. They are the primary link between the clinical setting and the Discipline of Physiotherapy and it is their role to ensure an optimum clinical placement learning experience.

Education and Training

The Discipline of Physiotherapy supports physiotherapists to develop their role as practice educators through a number of professional development opportunities. These include web-based education unit and courses, local education sessions, informal mentoring by the practice education team, practice education conferences, interactive workshops, site visits from regional placement facilitators (RPF) and/or the practice education co-ordinator (PEC).

Student Responsibilities

The role of the student on placement is outlined in the Practice Education Handbook. Each student has a responsibility to adhere to the Rules of Professional Conduct and the European Core Standards of Physiotherapy Practice.

Garda vetting (also known as Garda Clearance) is conducted in respect of personnel working in a full-time, part-time, and voluntary or student placement capacity in a position in a registered organisation, through which they have unsupervised access to children and/or vulnerable adults. All physiotherapy students must submit a Garda Clearance Form to the Academic Registry Office before they are allowed to register for the BSc Physiotherapy programme in first year. This form is available on the orientation website.

All students should be aware that it is their responsibility to submit a completed form to the Academic Registry Office before they commence the BSc Physiotherapy undergraduate programme.