Better Placed = Better Placements

13 June 2023

In 2016, SA Health implemented the Clinical Placement Management System ‘Placeright’ as part of the Better Placed program to streamline the coordination of clinical placements. Since then, its success has sky-rocketed, benefitting Training Coordinators, Universities and students alike.

Melissa Connor, Director of Better Placed says it’s vital to have a central place of coordination.

"The value of the Better Placed Team is central and collaborative management of clinical placement administration. By using Placeright, SA Health sites can efficiently allocate placements to education providers. The Better Placed team lead administrative tasks associated with student clinical placements to help support excellence in health education. We’re here to support SA Health staff and education providers to deliver quality clinical placements".

Training leads the way

SA Pathology has been at the forefront in implementing the program, with Scientific support and Training Development Manager, Maria Andreopoulos leading the charge – co-ordinating placements to both Laboratory Medicine, Medical and phlebotomy students.

As part of their studies, Laboratory Medicine students are required to complete at least two 13-week placements, while phlebotomy students must complete a minimum of 5 bleeds. However, SA Pathology offers 5-day phlebotomy placements, enabling the student to complete many more bleeds – significantly helping them to build their skills and confidence.

SA Pathology hosts students from South Australian Universities, TAFESA, Southern Cross and Equals, as well as interstate universities including Charles Sturt, RMIT and Central Queensland.

That’s a lot of people to organise!

Maria says,"Better Placed helps us to coordinate indemnity, work health safety, code of ethics and more. We’re also able to view the details of the students who will be arriving and notify the labs and collection centres in advance."

But first, Maria and the team complete an assessment of each laboratory and collection centre location’s capacity to host a student, and records these details in the Better Placed system, Placeright. The system works as a data warehouse, storing all the important information her team needs to provide a successful placement.

On-the-job learning

Dr Brian Dale from the University of South Australia is the Co-ordinator for Laboratory Medicine Clinical Practice and says the importance of placements cannot be underestimated.

"Our Laboratory Medicine program with SA Pathology began in the early 90s. We offer placements in both metro and regional locations and it’s fantastic to have regional scholarships. You cannot replace on-the-job learning; it means students are work-ready when they graduate."

As the placement period approaches, students are required to list 6 desired location and lab preferences, and lodge their compliance materials.

Continued improvement

Melissa from Better Placed says the team constantly seek feedback from training partners to ensure they’re maintaining a positive, collaborative relationship.

"Meeting someone like Maria, who embraced what we were trying to implement from the get-go, has been so positive. She could see the benefits of what SA Health was trying to achieve through coordinated management of clinical placements across the state. It’s been a positive relationship."

Full circle

The benefits of the program are evident from student experiences such as Angela Lim’s, a University of South Australia student working in the Flow Cytometry laboratory at Frome Road.

Angela says she found out where she was placed just two days after her placement preferences closed and the transition into lab work has been smooth.

"From my very first day, I was treated as part of the team. I feel incredibly grateful to be able to work with such an amazing team of medical scientists who are dedicated to providing the best possible service and care for the patient. It definitely feels like a rewarding career!".

For her placement, Angela was assigned a buddy, Eugene Ng, who has not only helped with her work but also her university project, and Angela was able to sign off all set processes and competencies during her placement.

"I am loving working on the bench and getting hands on experience in the lab every day to further develop my technical and critical thinking skills. Placement has allowed me to apply my skills, knowledge and competencies acquired at university to a professional clinical setting"

Quynhlam Nguyen, the Unit Head currently supervising Angela says,"Placement is fantastic because it sets the student in an environment where there are certain standards and protocols as well as important things like quality control. This is allowing Angela to get the full lab experience."

She says Maria and Better Placed has facilitated easy integration of placement students with tools such as email reminders, which are sent at regular intervals in the lead-up to the student’s arrival. She is also provided the student’s details prior to placement.

Plus, with all administrative tasks, including login access already complete before the placement starts, students can hit the ground running.

Quynhlam says this is making a huge difference to both students and the lab,"It takes a lot of pressure off the managers, we have all the information readily available to give the student a great experience."

The administrative support the Better Placed team provides also has a flow on effect, as a great placement will often lead to a future career with SA Pathology.

To learn more about the Better Placed program visit the SA Health website.

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