Within the past 18 months, health science programs are facing added challenges with their clinical placements. Some schools paused clinical placements last year due to COVID-19, and now have a backlog in their existing clinical experience schedules. This exacerbates the already-increasing competition for high-quality clinical placements.
There are more students, but in many cases, fewer openings. COVID-related restrictions are causing facilities to limit, or even eliminate, students. These are just a few of the new challenges programs have had to adapt to, and with an uncertain future, it makes this situation even more difficult. More students, fewer available sites and changing requirements can cause administrative headaches.
We spoke with leaders at three programs using eValue by MedHub — Kansas State University's Athletic Training program, Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions Speech Pathology program, and D'Youville College's Occupational Therapy program — to see how they're navigating their clinical placements throughout this turbulent time, and how they are leveraging eValue to reduce some of the administrative burden.
How programs are navigating uncertainty
Clinical placements have always presented challenges, but as Wendy Chase, MA, CCC-SLP, Director of Clinical Education/Assistant Professor at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions said, “It's the same challenges but magnified” in the last two years.
A common theme we've heard from health sciences programs is that they need to be flexible and agile. That can mean a variety of things:
- More telehealth placements
- Increased use of simulations to fulfill clinical requirements
- Nontraditional sites
- More partners for placements
- Ability to change clinical sites mid-term
- Pay sites for placement (eValue has a preceptor reimbursement tool to help with this!)
"We had to think outside the box. We placed about 20 students at nontraditional sites. We had some students doing everything fully remote," said Donna Brzykcy, Academic Fieldwork Coordinator at D'Youville College.
How they're using eValue to adapt during uncertainty
Adapting to changes can feel like an administrative nightmare. Here are some ways eValue helps eliminate the burden and empower programs to be flexible and efficient … which means more time focusing on program improvements and less time working out the nitty gritty details.
Quickly adjust when placements change
Especially in this COVID world, things change constantly. With eValue, there's no need for additional paperwork when a clinical placement changes. All it takes is a couple of clicks in eValue and everything is up-to-date.
Bernadette Olson, Clinical Education Coordinator at Kansas State University's Athletic Training program, said that changing assignments in eValue has been fluid.
For example, a high school soccer tournament may have a last-minute opportunity for two additional AT students. Because the preceptors were already in their system, students could easily log those cases without additional paperwork. Afterward, Olson could go back to ensure the students were meeting compliance standards.
"If we had not done it through eValue, it would have just been a mess. Our previous way, students would have been running around getting preceptors to sign their forms, and we never would have been able to log cases," she said.
Easily account for telehealth or simulated settings
Clinical sites can quickly be changed in eValue — and that includes tracking telehealth or even simulated settings.
Rocky Mountain University of Health Sciences has always done some simulation and telepractice in their Speech Pathology program, but both of those expanded dramatically last year due to COVID-19.
"We could go in and run reports about who was doing simulation, how many hours were trial practice versus live practice. Then we could break it down in a lot of different ways to make sure that the students were doing what they needed to do, but also meeting the guidelines that are set out by the state," said Chase.
Ensure everyone is meeting requirements
Meeting program requirements can mean more than just clinical hours. Many programs require diversity within their clinical hours, cases, skills/procedure counts, and settings. Meeting minimum requirements and even being evaluated as competent is a lot to track for every student … unless you have a tool like eValue to do the tracking for you.
D'Youville's OT program requires students to have two different clinical experiences. For example, a student can't have two pediatric placements.
Rocky Mountain University of Health Sciences Speech Pathology program has minimum requirements related to different diagnoses as well as diversity of patients. They also require that students are supervised at a certain minimum standard based on the type of service they're providing. All of this is tracked in eValue.
At Kansas State University's AT program, Olson said their accrediting body wants to ensure that students aren't just filling time, but that it's meaningful time. "It's time where they're learning to become more autonomous and independent and they're more competent," she said. "I could verify that pretty well through the tools that I have with eValue."
Facilitate communication and requirements with preceptors
Different sites often have different requirements. You can track who needs what — vaccination information, health records, any required training, etc. — and even send notifications to students and/or preceptors to remind them if they have missing information.
Schools often have hundreds, even thousands, of clinical sites. That's far too many checklists to manually track. Then there's the issue of security. Bryzkcy of D'Youville College said she has over 1,000 sites in eValue, and that they used to have to send some paperwork in the mail because email was insecure. eValue has provided them a simple and secure way to send sites confirmation of student compliance. Site coordinators and/or preceptors can also be given a secure login with permissions the program allows to access this data.
What would you do with less administrative work?
Less administrative burden means more time building relationships with new sites and preceptors, helping students or focusing on more critical initiatives to improve your program.
Learn more about eValue and explore how this solution can streamline your program administration.