Longitudinal evaluation of the impact of placement development teams on student support in clinical practice.
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AIMS: To investigate the impact of a new structure for supporting healthcare students and mentors in practice placements (Placement Development Teams). INTRODUCTION: The English Model National Partnership Agreement for healthcare education required Strategic Health Authorities, Higher Education Institutions and National Health Service Trusts to redesign strategies for student support. Placement Development Teams are one English University's response to this. MATERIALS AND METHODOLOGY: This study was phase 2 of a longitudinal qualitative evaluation of Placement Development Teams. Data were collected after establishment of Placement Development Teams, and compared and contrasted with those collected prior to their implementation. Telephone interviews were conducted with key educational stakeholders in Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities. Focus groups were conducted with third year non-medical healthcare students and first year paramedics working in 16 NHS Trusts in the south west peninsula of England. RESULTS: Pre-Placement Development Teams, themes from the students' data were: Supportive and unsupportive behaviour of staff; Mentor allocation; Placement allocation; Benefits of students to the placement area and Perceived control over the learning experience. Post-Placement Development Teams, the themes were Communication; Supportive and unsupportive behaviour of staff; The effect of peers on the placement experience; Knowledge and perceptions of the work of the PDTs. Form the staff data, pre-Placement Development Teams the themes were: Vision for improving student support. Post-Placement Development Teams themes from the staff data were how they provided a central point of contact for student and mentor support; and how they supported students and mentors. CONCLUSION: Support of students and mentors is particularly important following the introduction of The English Model National Partnership Agreement for healthcare education. Placement Development Teams can facilitate partnership working between higher education institutions and placement providers for student support.
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