Student placement reference guide for health authority preceptors and field guides.

The following resources may assist you to support student development with exceptional clinical practice experiences. The educational institution for which you are acting as a preceptor/field guide is responsible to outline your roles and responsibilities regarding student supervision and evaluation.

Mentorship courses


  • Review orientation requirements for students.
  • Provide the student with specific orientation information for your practice setting and profession
  • Ensure that your employee required courses are up to date (e.g., code red, WHMIS, Fit Testing  etc.)

Policies, guidelines and support tools

The British Columbia Practice Education Guidelines are used to guide the roles and responsibilities of faculty/instructors, students and the health organization employees during the practice education experience. It is your responsibility to be familiar these guidelines (e.g., placement process, practice issues, supervision, negative behaviours in the workplace, etc).

Specific student-related policies include:

While hosting students, those supporting students need to abide by the following policies

  • Student Practice Policy
  • Documentation
  • Hand Hygiene
  • Confidentiality and Security of Personal Information
  • Electronic Communications
  • Professional Image
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Respectful Workplace
  • Safe Handling of Patients, Residents, and clients
  • Respiratory Protection
  • Scented products
  • Influenza Policy
  • Research – Intellectual Property
  • Patient and Family Gifts
  • Media Relations

What needs to occur prior to placement?

  • Both faculty and students must complete the required orientation.
  • A practice setting orientation is scheduled through the destination coordinator. HSPnet destination profiles should list orientation specific to the practice setting.
  • Students and faculty are required to activate Windows user account and email.
  • Orientation programs for acute care, long term care and home health practice settings are available for faculty and instructors.

What needs to occur during a placement?

  • Students and faculty must keep school photo I.D. visible at all times.
  • Follow dress code as per the Professional Image policy and local practice setting guidelines.
  • Adhere to all policies and care standards.

Creating supportive learning environment

It is important to foster a learning environment in which students feel safe, relaxed, and willing to take risks. Here are some ways to create a supportive learning environment for your students:

Build a strong community in the workplace

The practice setting can play an important role in helping students build knowledge, apply skills, develop caring attitudes, be socialized into the profession, and create contacts for future employment. 

  • Start out by working together to provide care and orient the student to the practice setting.
  • Make them feel welcomed and a part of the team. Help students get acquainted with all members of the health care team.
  • Provide students with opportunities to share about their backgrounds and cultures.
  • Seek to connect students with a variety of learning opportunities to foster their preparation to move from the student to professional role. Provide a range of experiences provided, relevant to the students skills and level of learning.

Build self-esteem and self-efficacy

Students’ determination and belief that they can achieve their goals are important factors in their persistence in ongoing learning and transition to the professional role. 

  • Ensure that students experience success on their first day of the practicum so the first experience is a positive one. Ensure the students are respected and feel they are valued and part of the team.
  • Be patient. Patience is an extremely important characteristic for any preceptor/mentor. Individuals can often take a longer time in the learning process because of various learning styles, but this does not mean they aren’t motivated to learn.
  • Accept your student as he/she is and respect his/her values even if they differ from yours.
  • Believe in your student and he/she will begin to believe in him/herself.
  • Know your student's name and use it frequently. Introduce them to patients and members of the health care team.
  • Provide ongoing feedback to identify strengths as well as areas for improvement or shortcomings.
  • Support students to identify their learning needs and experiences that are appropriate to their level of learning.
  • To meet defined learning needs, use a range of learning experiences, involving patients, clients, health care providers and members of the inter-professional team,.
  • Identify aspects of the learning environment which could be enhanced, negotiating with others to make appropriate changes.
  • Act as a resource to facilitate the personal and professional development of others. 

Use positive non-verbal communication

Non-verbal messages are an essential component of communication in the learning process. It is not only what you say to your student that is important but also how you say it. An awareness of non-verbal behaviour will allow you to become a better receiver of students’ messages and a better sender of signals that reinforce learning. 

Some areas of non-verbal behaviours to explore include:

  • Eye contact: Those who make eye contact open the flow of communication and convey interest, concern, warmth and credibility.
  • Facial expressions: Smiling is a great way to communicate friendliness and warmth to students.
  • Gestures: A lively and animated teaching style captures students’ attention, makes the material more interesting, and facilitates learning. Head nods also communicate positive reinforcement to students and indicate that you are listening.
  • Posture and body orientation: Standing erect, but not rigid, and leaning slightly forward communicates to students that you are approachable, receptive and friendly. Speaking with your back turned or looking at the floor or ceiling should be avoided, as it communicates disinterest.
  • Proximity: Cultural norms dictate a comfortable distance for interaction with students. Look for signals of discomfort caused by invading students’ space, which include rocking, leg swinging, crossed arms, tapping and gaze aversion.
  • Paralinguistics: Tone, pitch, rhythm, timbre, loudness and inflection in the way you speak should be varied for maximum effectiveness. Students report that they learn less and lose interest more quickly when listening to teachers who have not learned to modulate their voices.
  • Humour: Develop the ability to laugh at yourself and encourage students to do the same. Humour is often overlooked as a teaching tool.  It can release stress and tension for both health care provider and student and foster a friendly classroom environment that facilitates learning.

Motivate students

Motivation is a key factor in student success.

  • Involve students as active participants in learning. Students learn by doing, making, planning, creating and solving. Pose questions. Don’t tell students something when you can ask them.
  • Be enthusiastic about what you are teaching. An individual’s enthusiasm is a crucial factor in student motivation. If you become bored or apathetic, students will too.
  • Work from students’ strengths and interests.
  • When possible, let students have some say in choosing component of their assignment during the placement.
  • Vary your teaching methods (e.g., debates, brainstorming, discussion, demonstrations, case studies, online courses). Variety reawakens students’ involvement and motivation.
  • Relate new tasks to those students already know.

Questions or concerns?

Contact the student practice team at

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