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August 31, 2021, by stykjsk

Virtual Placement: Here’s What I’ve Learned

By Katy Skillen, third-year Master of Nutrition and Dietetics student 

As part of my degree, I’ve just completed three weeks of a virtual placement, before starting in-person at a hospital this week. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a virtual placement, but it was actually a really interesting learning experience! So, here are some top tips that I picked up that will help you if you’re going to be doing a virtual placement… 

Be prompt 

Always enter a Microsoft Teams call five minutes early. It’s good practice and makes you seem more organised and respectful. It allows time for people to load up cameras and microphones and means that you can have some small talk, and the actual meeting can take place promptly at the set time. Trust me, everyone else will be in that call early, and you definitely don’t want to be the last person there! 

Rest those eyes 

Being on Microsoft Teams basically, 9 am-5 pm every day can be exhausting. So, when you have a coffee break, take it away from a screen! Something that I found useful is walking outside into my back garden for those five minutes. This helps to refresh you and gives your eyes a break from screens. If possible, go for a walk on your lunch break, and as soon as 5 pm hits, put that laptop away! 

Keep on top of your tasks 

During my placement, we had sessions of student-directed learning. This is where we have allocated times in our timetable to complete independent learning tasks. As tempting as it can be to just have a nap during these times – don’t! Remember, the staff who organise placement students know just how long different tasks take. Therefore, you will be given the exact amount of time you need to get the task done. So, if you want to avoid working until 10 pm later that evening, I suggest you follow your timetable. Thank me later. 

Build rapport 

Yes, I know it can be very difficult to make connections with people over a screen, but if you’re starting a new placement, this is exactly what you need to do! For my placement, I was interacting with different staff and patients almost every day. Making the effort to chat about the weather or the difficulties of using Microsoft Teams may feel a bit awkward, to begin with, but it really helps to make the situation feel more natural. Honestly, a good joke when someone tries to speak while still being on mute never gets old! 

Keep a diary 

After placement, most students have to reflect on what they have learned or have to write a bit of a mini-report about their experience. Therefore, keep a short diary where you write down the things that you did that day and anything that you’ve learned. This will be so useful when you get asked about your placement in the future! This is also a really nice way for you to notice your progress throughout the placement and appreciate how much you have grown in the role. 

So now that my virtual placement is done, I’m ready to start hands-on work on the hospital wards. Wish me luck! 

It’s a good idea to check out the university’s placement advice! You can also book a one-to-one appointment with a careers adviser to discuss your options. 

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