Students who present themselves in a positive and professional manner pave their way to a promising future career.
Practicum students primarily function in the role of learner, but part of the assignment is to be of assistance to the facility or agency wherever possible. The preceptors are adding additional work to their daily schedule to supervise you. Successful performance of practicum duties can lead to useful professional contacts, job prospects, favorable letters of recommendation, etc.
Tips for a successful practicum experience
Call the agency two weeks prior to the start of your practicum to remind them that you are coming and to confirm start date and time, dress code, parking arrangements, etc. Complete any orientation needed.
Be on time daily and report to the person or unit to whom you were directed. If that individual is not present or available, make your presence known to someone else in the office. Do not plan to leave early unless you have made arrangements with your preceptor.
While at a health care facility, students are required to wear appropriate professional attire. The casual dress permissible on college campuses is not acceptable in professional settings. Flip-flops, shorts, jeans, t-shirts and skimpy tops are not appropriate. Hair must be neat and under control. Jewelry and make up should be appropriate for business settings. Shoes should be closed-toed (no sandals). At times, you may be at health-related events such as health fairs or school activities where jeans, t-shirts and tennis shoes are the expected dress. Be sure to ask what to wear at these events.
Once you have set a schedule, do not deviate from it. If you are sick or must be late, call and notify the appropriate person in the facility as soon as you know this and at least 30 minutes of the start of your scheduled time.
Do not use the office telephone, computer, fax machine or other office supplies or facilities for personal or academic purposes unless you have been granted permission to do so. Do not wear headphones or earbuds in the facility. Cell phones should be off and put away. Hospitals have specific guidelines on cell phone use in patient care areas. If you feel you must have your cell phone on to receive emergency texts or calls, and this is allowed in your facility, it should be on silent.
As part of your work, you may or may not have access to information is confidential. Consult with your preceptor about the types of information you may have legitimate access to, and the types of information that are off-limits to you, as well as about any procedures for protecting confidentiality.
A certain amount of routine and tedious work comes with any position. It is appropriate for you to carry out such tasks as office work, just as others in the professional world do. It is only when you are asked to do these things far more than others in the agency, compromising your opportunities for exposure to the agency’s full range of other functions, that you should be concerned.
Approach your practicum experience proactively. Ask questions of agency personnel. Ask what you can do to be useful, if you have time on your hands. Request certain experiences, if you think they are within your capabilities and would enhance your learning experience in the agency.
Learn and follow all agency policies and procedures. When in doubt, ask.
While you are in the agency, remember that you are not a regular employee. Please practice courtesy and respect to all employees.
Introduce yourself to everyone you meet. You never know when you will meet these people again. They may be interviewing you for a job one day.
Know your limitations. There are certain things that you cannot do. Don’t worry; some day it will be your turn.
Follow instructions and listen when someone talks to you.
Do not be afraid to acknowledge your limitations. If you feel uncomfortable doing something discuss this with your supervisor.
Be as precise and accurate as you can when doing paperwork.
Get to know other health care professionals. You can make lifelong friends who might help you with your career (or personal life) in the future.
If you are having a concern or a problem during your rotation, please contact your course instructor immediately.