Experiences of health science students during clinical placements at the University of Zimbabwe
Background: Clinical placement is an essential component of training in health sciences because it is where theory and practice interface.
Objective: To explore experiences of health sciences students during clinical placement in terms of supervision, challenges and coping strategies.
Design: It was a cross sectional survey.
Setting: University ofZimbabwe, College ofHealth Sciences.
Participants: 179 multidisciplinary health science students.
Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted using a self-administered questionnaire. Ethical clearance was obtained. Descriptive statistics were used for analysis.
Main Outcome Measures: These were perceptions of students with regard to supervision, challenges faced during clinical placement and coping strategies used.
Results'. 179 participants responded to the questionnaires. Participants enjoyed linking theory to practice. Perceptions on supervision were both positive and negative. Inadequate supervision and inappropriate behaviours by supervisors were some of the challenges faced. Almost 89% used stress-relieving strategies such as focusing on why they were doing the clinical placement and the importance of successful completion. Ninety-one per cent had never used cannabis/mbanje but 41% had engaged in sexual activity to cope with challenges.
Conclusion: This study found that the perceptions of health sciences students about supervision clinical placement, challenges faced and the coping strategies are almost the same as those found elsewhere. It is therefore important to plan clinical placement with the involvement of clinical educators.
Recommendations: Supervisors' workshops should be held to create a forum to discuss clinical placement issues. Follow-up of students by academics is recommended. Students should be empowered to cope with challenges.