Providing quality allied health placements in palliative care
Introduction: Palliative care is a complex area for student placements due to the high level of grief and loss encountered. There is limited research into allied health student experiences in palliative care. The aim of this study was to investigate the attitudes, behaviours, perceptions and personal challenges faced by allied health students in palliative care. We sought to explore student preparation for a palliative care clinical placement and the impact of the placement on their self-efficacy in the areas of communication, patient management and interdisciplinary teamwork.
Methods: Eleven consecutive eligible allied health students undertaking a placement in palliative care were recruited to participate in this study. Each participant took part in a semi-structured interview at the beginning and end of their placement. Interviews were transcribed and analysed qualitatively. Questionnaires were also given to participant’s pre and post placement to identify the impact of self-efficacy and outcome expectancies on learning outcomes.
Results: The analysis of the results demonstrated that most, but not all, of participants experienced anxiety prior to placement. Participants’ perception and understanding of palliative care was positively influenced by their placement, and there were a wide variety of learning experiences described.
Conclusions: Allied health student placements in palliative care provide a positive environment for student learning and can be altered to maximise the learning experience. With careful planning, and by encouraging a culture of support, effective approaches and strategies can be identified to make a placement in palliative care more appealing and appropriate for individual students.
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