As clinical workforce shortages rise, the need to bring new health professionals into the workforce is critical. In order for an individual to become a clinician of any kind, there is always a required clinical learning component to their program. It’s during this period that a care setting with patients and a health professional program must work together to coordinate that student’s experience. The outcome of that experience has a significant impact on the student’s professional journey.
Because of this, a smooth clinical placement management process is critical to ensuring a student can focus on the things that matter: the patients, what they’re learning, and how to perform within a care team.
Alignment between school and site coordinators is vital—and this is where things can potentially go awry. School and site coordinators are often challenged with many obstacles as they work to connect, onboard, and schedule students for their clinical placements.
Some of the most common barriers include:
Today’s clinicians are teaching students in live patient care settings. Every day brings changes, ranging from scheduling changes to unforeseen staffing shortages. For example, while a preceptor can initially accept several students for instruction, unforeseen circumstances may necessitate a leave of absence. Preceptors may leave for other career opportunities—which can happen without warning. Coordinators are left scrambling for remedies while fully entrenched with other day-to-day responsibilities. It can be overwhelming as coordinators seek to manage the competing needs of patients, clinicians, and the students they serve.
Preceptors and clinical sites can have varying criteria for students when they review placement requests. For instance, with future job availability in mind—due to various retirements or other staff changes—clinical sites might only seek students specializing in a specific practice of health care, like orthopedics.
Coordinators need systems to organize and track essential student data to address these requirements and the needs of the clinic. Without a coordinated system, the clinical placement management process can lead to miscommunication, delayed or incorrect onboarding, and dissatisfied learners.
Lack of visibility
Response times for scheduling placements can vary significantly with every clinical setting. Some site coordinators might respond promptly while others might take longer to place the right student with the right preceptor. Extended wait periods can strain a school coordinator’s ability to place all of their students accordingly. Clinical sites may also use different platforms or software for the clinical placement management process, making it challenging for both school coordinators and clinical site coordinators to have a clear view of a clinic’s capacity to teach.
5 Tips for a successful clinical placement management process
It can feel daunting to address these bottlenecks in the clinical placement management process. However, the right solutions will lead coordinators to a better path, with the assurance that students and preceptors are properly matched. As such, the following tips reduce and remove friction in communication between schools and clinical sites.
1. Practice empathy
Whether the school coordinator oversees student progress or a preceptor prepares to teach valuable lessons, everyone shares one mutual goal: to ensure the student’s growth and success in the health care field.
Occasionally, a health care facility may deny a placement request. It can be disappointing for the school coordinator and the student, but there is often a valid reason for the refusal. Preceptors and clinical site coordinators want to provide students with a quality educational experience. A clinical site is more likely to decline a placement request if they don’t feel they have the resources to foster an enriching learning environment.
Empathy allows school coordinators to see the layered complexities of the clinical placement management process. Understanding how various circumstances and limited resources can lead to unexpected results can help find alternative solutions that work for everyone.
2. Communicate proactively
Engagement can feel non-existent in an increasingly digital and rapid-paced world. Communication is essential, especially when maintaining relationships. For example, a 30-minute phone call ahead of each semester may give the site and school coordinator time to connect and become aligned with the upcoming priorities of both organizations. Once aligned, the clinic will have time to assess its needs and prepare a timely response to any student requests outside of the ordinary.
Learning a clinic’s communication style is a bonus when there’s a need to facilitate conversations or exchange crucial information. It helps to build mutual trust and support. As a coordinator becomes more familiar with a clinic’s preferences, the clinical placement management process naturally becomes more streamlined.
3. Build positive rapport
The rewards of a career in healthcare counter the challenges healthcare professionals face. Minimizing the transactional nature of the clinical placement management process and elevating meaningful interactions can help build solid relationships with health clinics.
Be intentional about following up on personal things shared with you while connecting with other coordinators or preceptors. Whether fresh from maternity leave or returning from a month-long sabbatical, preceptors and coordinators appreciate a school coordinator’s effort to remember and ask about the small details. As they say, it’s not what we do that matters, it’s how we do it.
4. Be detail-oriented
There are several ways to optimize the clinical placement management process. From keeping careful records of student information to noting important deadlines for clinical placement requests, paying close attention to every detail sets students up for success.
It’s also beneficial to track important information about individual preceptors, such as their healthcare background, years of experience, and whether they have taught healthcare students in the past. A part of the placement process is to ensure that students are placed with well-versed, passionate professionals who are knowledgeable in their area of practice.
5. Utilize a digital solution
A rapidly changing world—and an increasingly digital workforce—requires innovative, digital solutions. For the clinical placement management process to be effective, school coordinators must find a way to enhance the overall experience and foster smooth communication between the school, clinical site, and the student. With access to powerful technology, they can facilitate this process from start to finish, ensuring that students are placed in locations that will maximize learning—and clinical sites are given the information they need to make the right decisions.
The future of a streamlined clinical workforce
A streamlined clinical placement management process makes a difference for everyone involved: the clinical site coordinator, the school coordinator, the student, and the preceptor. However, without an efficient system, it can be burdensome to track student experiences, maintain consistent communication, and manage clinical capacity—all at once. Automating repetitive administrative tasks can free up everyone’s time to focus on developing and maintaining relationships that support the student’s professional growth. By aligning hiring needs with the supply of new entrants, both parties play an active role in easing workforce challenges of today.
About Clinician Nexus’ Education Solutions
Clinician Nexus’ Education Solutions provides an intuitive, human-centric platform that elevates the clinical placement management process. Prioritizing visibility, optimization, and collaboration allows clinical or health care to successfully manage internal logistics and build meaningful connections with academic partners. Track clinical capacity, monitor student onboarding, assess student experiences and even generate reports—all through one platform.
By facilitating an efficient workflow, our solution helps foster positive learning experiences for the students and painless workforce solutions for clinical site coordinators.
Looking for a digital solution that meets your clinical placement management needs? Contact Clinician Nexus today for a demo.