Occupational therapy placements go virtual – UEA

Hands typing on a keyboard learning at home

With Covid-19 meaning that the usual second-year occupational therapy placements couldn’t take place the team at UEA’s School of Health Sciences responded quickly by creating a virtual alternative. 

Using the learning tool Blackboard students took responsibility for a virtual caseload, worked individually and in teams, and even conducted ‘interviews’ with academics posing as patients. All this ensured that students were kept on track with statutory and professional body requirements.

“It was a great way to replace our placement under this situation. Thank you!” 

“Under difficult circumstances, this has been an excellent way to keep our learning path going” 

Student feedback 

The academic team were so pleased with the results they created a Health Education England case study to share with peers across the sector. 

“This placement gave the students a good environment to explore and practice their assessment/professional reasoning and to really get to grips with goal setting and prioritisation. It gave them real-time practice with their communication skills. 

The feedback from my group was positive, they felt it helped their confidence with communication. They all highlighted how it helped them to hone their time management skills, and to really understand the benefits of team working” 

Academic feedback

Project lead Dr. Lisa Taylor feels that this model could be used for non-health subjects too, as the higher education sector looks to adjust to the post-pandemic situation.

 “Although this peer enhanced e-placement (PEEP)  was organised for health students, the reported learning has pedagogical application using the 5 stages of learning theory, developed by Salmon (2011)*. 

The PEEP model may provide a legitimate pedagogical alternative for non-health discipline placements within higher education, when face to face options may not be available” 

Dr Lisa Taylor – PEEP project lead

You can view the case study and full report on NHS Health Education England here: https://www.hee.nhs.uk/our-work/allied-health-professions/occupational-therapy-virtual-practice-placement

*Salmon, R (2011) E-moderating: The key to teaching and learning online (3rd Edition) New York: Routledge

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