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The University of Southampton

The placement survival guide

We asked audiology students what advice they could give to help you get on well during your time in clinical placement and offer their answers to you as a 'survival guide'. This is what they said in their own words.

Jennifer advises...

Just be diligent, get there on time.  Don't take a longer lunch hour.  Be prepared.  Don't go into a placement with somebody, and you haven't read the patient notes and you don't know what you're doing.  Know what you're going to be doing, know what you want to do in that session as well.  Because otherwise you could get a placement where they'll sit there and say, "Well you shadow.  Shout out when you want to do something," if you haven't read the notes, you don't know what they're doing.  Whereas you sort of sit there and think, "OK which bit am I confident at?"  In my first placement I picked the bits that I was confident to do, i.e. computer bits, I'd done that at university, I could sit and do that bit.  Other people might have found the technology at uni was a bit much for them, but they feel that they are quite good with talking to people, so they might have picked general chat bit first.  For me, it was hide behind technology, then get out there and do the chat bit.

Amanda suggests that you...

Don't be afraid to ask.  Any problems, anything you're unsure of, just ask the other audiologists why they're doing it, what's going on.  I think definitely just keep asking questions.  Obviously you're learning a lot.  And if you want to have a look at, I don't know, ENT say, just ask if you can sit in on the ENT, and more often than not they'll say yes.  But if you've got a special interest in a different area, or particular area, I got to go to the special care baby unit, but just because I was in the same office as someone when they said, "Oh I'm doing this now."  And I was on study and thought, "Oh can I come?"  And then I went.  So I think definitely just be confident.  And if you don't know something say you don't know it and don't be afraid, don't feel pressurised to have to do something because they think you should be able to do it.

Sarah recommends to...

Just go with it, because it's not going to stop while you sit and decide what to do next.  Just make sure you know your theory.  Don't judge clinicians for the decisions they make very early on.  Because you have the potential, as a uni student, to go, "Oh I wouldn't have done it that way."  And you think, "But these people have had 30 years' experience, and generally the decision they make is better than the one you would make."  So it's a case of just learning from absorbing as much as possible from the people that you meet, and really thinking about how you can develop yourself, to make your patients have a better standard of care really.  And to always think about the bigger picture, because it's never just this hour, this patient, this hearing aid, at the end of the day it's not just a set of ears, you know.  And I think you have the potential at uni just to think about a particular condition or whatever, but you need to think about how important it is to the patient.  Somebody's hearing isn't always their first priority, so always think about the context of what you're doing.

Amy says...

Always turn up for work on time, always iron your clothes.  It's OK to make mistakes, because you're still learning.  Not to be too hard on yourself, especially if you have gone home and felt you haven't done something very well, and you've perhaps been told you haven't done something very well.  And to remember that you can't kill anyone, no one has died.  You might have dropped a hearing aid and it might have broken, so you had to programme a new one, and the person wasn't happy.  But they've still got a new hearing aid, identical to their old one, no one died. When you're a student and you're quite heightened to you don't want to make a mistake, you don't want to look silly, you don't want to look like you don't know what you're doing. It's quite easy just to really think, "Oh God, how embarrassing, I've just done that wrong."  Not to be too hard on yourself and remember that it's a year where you're learning and you're there to learn and to learn from your experiences.  As long as you learn something it's not wasted.  And you haven't made a mistake, you've just learnt something.

Rakesh advises that you...

Make the most of it.  Always ask questions, even if you think they're stupid, just like at university.  And don't panic, that's the main thing I'd say.  Because it's quite easy to panic when you have a 6'7", 15 stone giant shouting at you in a clinic because he's had a bad day.  So don't end up sort of talking back to a patient, just calmly diffuse the situation in your own way that you feel comfortable diffusing it in.  If that's going out and calling a superior, then do it that way.  If you feel that you can diffuse the situation by yourself then do it that way.  Because at the end of the day, they're human and they're the customer and unfortunately the customer is always right.

Erin suggests that you...

Enjoy it and be proactive. Take responsibility for your own learning because departments are busy places and they're used to students coming in and out and you can easily shy away.  Some people aren't going to be, "Right, I need to learn this, I need to do this, so I'm going to go and make sure it happens."  But I think especially the way that the NHS is at the moment, and all the changes that are going on, you have to kind of look yourself what you need to do and make sure that you do it.  Because I think it would be a full-time job to organise my rota so that I was having this perfect training while I was here.  So I'd say that you need to get a good balance between learning and training, but also fitting into a department and being a useful member of staff while you're there.  Because it is that you're giving your services, and they give you training.

Jennifer thinks you should...

Look at your patients, decide what it is that you want to get out of each patient.  Look at them, I mean straight off you'll be doing fits.  You've done fits at university.  Which bit are you comfortable with having a go at?  Now it is quite possible that the bit you're comfortable with is doing the bit on the computer, and you're not so happy about putting things in a patient's actual ears. It's fine doing it on a student that, if you do it too much, they're just going to say, "Oh that really hurt," but it's another thing with the patient. So do the bit you're confident with first so that you then don't have to think about that.  But every - even from your first day, there must be something in a session that you can do, and that you know you can do it, do that bit.


Testing middle ear function
Diagnosing hearing impairments in children
Pediatric testing
Making listening easier for people with hearing loss
Hearing aids
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