QMU School of Health Sciences Section Practice Education Handbook


Practice placements are an important element of the curriculum for a significant number of students studying healthcare programmes within the School of Health Sciences, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.

Practice placements can occur in a diversity of areas, eg: Health Board, Special Care Board; Social Care; Private Organisation; Voluntary Sector; Care Home. They can be located in Scotland, the wider UK or throughout the world.

This section of the Practice Placement Handbook includes information relevant to all healthcare programmes across the school and includes:

  • selected generic elements of student preparation for placement;
  • information about the fitness to practice policy;
  • guidance related to communication between the practice site and the relevant University contact.

As the programmes of study vary across the School, this section of the Handbook will be supported by a programme or subject specific section


Practice Placement

The practice area in which a student is educated for a stipulated period of time and where professional competence is assessed

Professional Practice Tutor

The academic member of staff based at the higher education institution who co-ordinates the practice education elements of the programme. This includes the development of new placements and the education of practice educators.

Personal Academic Tutor

An academic member of staff who acts as a contact person for a group of students and practice educators throughout a practice placement.

Practice Placement Co-ordinator

The practice placement co-ordinator role normally includes the co-ordination of practice placements across a specific site/sector, liaising with the higher education institution and acting in an advisory capacity to practice educators and students as required during practice experiences.

Practice Educator

This refers to the person supervising students whilst they are on placement. Normally, the practice educator has completed a practice educators’ course and is familiar with the University.

Preparing students for practice placements

Practice education passport, or similar

All students maintain a practice education passport or a similar document.  The passport has been developed in consultation with placement providers and its primary goal is to enable students to assume responsibility for aspects of the placement preparation process. 

The Passport enables University staff to verify that students have completed all of the compulsory preparation tasks before being permitted to go on placement.  Students are required to collate and maintain documents and certificates recording completion of compulsory tasks and activities required in preparation for practice placement.  It is the student’s responsibility to present this evidence to the practice educator during the induction phase of placement.

Health clearance checks

In 2008, the Scottish Government agreed that all new health care workers who have direct contact with patients must undergo a Standard Health Clearance Check before they take up post or in the case of healthcare students before they are permitted to go on placement (Scottish Government, 2008).

For QMU students the Standard Health Clearance Check takes place at the QMU campus.  Students are assessed and screened for Tuberculosis (TB), Hepatitis B and Mumps, Measles and Rubella (MMR).  Attendance at the Health Clearance Check is compulsory. 

Currently information pertaining to the students' vaccination status is held by NHS Lothian's Occupational Health Service (Tel: 0131 537 9361).

The university's policy on health clearance check is reviewed annually.

Promoting a safe working environment

Students receive introductory education and training about a range of health and safety issues including:

  • manual handling legislation
  • risk assessment; moving and handling of clients and inanimate objects
  • selected elements of the Cleanliness Champions Programme
  • information governance.

These topics are compulsory elements of the curriculum and occur prior to the first practice placement.  Records of training are kept for all students.

Uniform/Dress Code


The official National Health Service (NHS) uniform is provided to students by the Scottish Government.

Dress code during practice placements

Students will be expected to conform to policy agreed within individual service settings. 

Practice educators will make these requirements known to students in advance of starting the placement.  Some practice placement sites may require a uniform whereas in other settings smart, casual dress is the norm. 

Students are referred to the NHS Scotland Dress Code and advised to dress professionally (eg smart trousers, shirt and jumper) and for ease of movement wear comfortable clothing. 

In settings where name badges are worn, these must be visible at all times; some settings may also require an additional security pass.  

See subject-specific section for additional details

Practice Educator Preparation

QMU works with other Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Scotland to offer Practice Educator Training.  QMU offers a range of opportunities to engage in education and training which range from single training days hosted both in QMU and at practice based learning sites around Scotland, to Masters level modules.  These opportunities are described within the Facilitating Practice Based Learning Framework.

Single Training Days single training days are held both in QMU and at practice based learning sites in Lothian, Fife, Forth Valley and the Borders. The content of these days is tailored to local needs and they are run in close collaboration with NHS Education Scotland Practice Education Leads (PELs).

Facilitating Practice-Based Learning Framework the framework consists of four modules, presented at varying levels of academic depth and complexity. Each module builds upon the skills and knowledge presented in the previous module.  Depending on the participant's previous level of knowledge and experience, a range of entry and exit points is provided.  Movement between modules is possible in order to be responsive to learners' needs. 

Mentorship preparation in Nursing is provided in line with NMC requirements.

Guidance for practice educators and students: Fitness to practise

University Fitness to Practise Panel

The University has an obligation to ensure that students and graduates from its pre-registration healthcare programmes are fit to practise.  Fitness to practise has been interpreted to mean that a person has the skills, knowledge, character and health to undertake their professional role safely and effectively. 

This means the University needs to consider whether students:

  • have a declared a long-term health condition or disability which could prevent them from practising safely without supervision;
  • have any criminal convictions or cautions which could make them unsuitable for registration;
  • have demonstrated that they can maintain the standards of conduct expected of a health and care professional.

Students studying to become a professional in a regulated profession have certain responsibilities and they are expected to meet high standards of conduct and ethics throughout their studies.  Students studying on pre-registration programmes, which involve practice placements are informed that their conduct outside the practice environment, including their private lives, may have an impact on their fitness to practise.  This is set out in the requirements of the regulatory body, the Health and Care Professions Council and/or the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Audiology students are expected to comply with the code of conduct laid down by the Registration Council for Clinical Physiologists (RCCP) and the University policies

If the University becomes aware of an issue regarding a student’s behaviour it may initiate Fitness to Practise proceedings.  Where there are serious concerns a Fitness to Practise (FtP) Panel may be convened by the University.  The FtP Panel has the delegated authority to impose a range of sanctions including requiring a student to suspend study or withdraw from the programme (QMU 2012).  Fitness to practice policy[ broken link ]

Monitoring students fitness to practise

Fitness to practice is monitored though the following procedures:

  1. On Application
  2. Each applicant must join the Protection of Vulnerable Groups Scheme regulations regarding criminal convictions.
  3. During the programme
  4. Students are required to declare whether or not they have a conviction or caution as part of the annual matriculation process.
  5. Students are required to work within the framework of the Health and Care Professions Guidance on Conduct and Ethics for Students, the NMC, RCCP and the University policies.
  6. Records of absence will be kept for each student noting the duration and the reasons for absence. Students must inform both the practice educator and University of any absences from placement.  A supporting medical certificate must be obtained to cover absences of five working days or more from placement.

Disability and health-related issues

Queen Margaret University is committed to equality of opportunity and believes in a culture of diversity and inclusion.

Disabled students should experience the same broad range of practice settings as non-disabled students to enable them to demonstrate that they have achieved the learning outcomes for each placement.  In this respect a physical or mental impairment includes sensory impairments, mental illness or mental health issues, specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia and conditions such as diabetes and epilepsy.

Practice education involves a range of relationships, rights and responsibilities, some legal and others negotiable between the student, University and placement provider.  The University acknowledges that not all information about a student’s disability or health condition may be relevant to placement providers and that information should normally be provided on a need-to-know basis.


Checking Student Attendance Identity and Attendance Monitoring

We require student identify to be checked at the commencement of any practice placement and attendance to be formally monitored.

Identity checking

Student identity must now be confirmed at the start of each practice placement.  To do this student’s are asked to bring their student matriculation card, which shows the photograph and name of the student, with them on placement and they must show this to the practice educator responsible for their training. 

In the unlikely event that the student's identify cannot be confirmed from their matriculation card, alternative official photo ID (i.e. passport or driving licence) can be used to confirm identity.  If the student identity cannot be confirmed you should inform the appropriate person within the university as identified in the programme-specific section of the handbook. 

Once the matriculation card has been checked and the student identity has been confirmed the practice educator should sign the declaration at the end of placement report.  The final placement report should be sent to the relevant university in line with normal practice.

Attendance Monitoring 

Every student is required to inform their practice placement site and the University should they be unable to attend their placement on any given day.

In the event that a student has an authorised or unauthorised/unexpected absence from placement which lasts for more than 48 hours we ask that the practice educator informs the relevant university contact of this absence immediately.

Attendance should be monitored throughout the placement and all absences from placement should be recorded in the appropriate section at the end of placement report.  The final placement report should be sent to the university in line with normal practice.

Health and Safety

Students must adhere at all times to health and safety policies that apply to the area in which they are working.  If an incident occurs, the student must inform their QMU link person.

Contact mechanisms with and support for students during practice education

Each individual subject will have a specific mechanism in place to support the student.

When an incident occurs outside of normal working hours, where there is an urgent requirement to contact the University, please telephone (0131) 474 0000.  When prompted, ask for reception. 


The University has implemented a new Complaints Handling Procedure which can be found here: [broken link ].  The Procedure has three stages: frontline resolution, investigation and external review.

If a student has a complaint, they should discuss this with someone in the area which the student wishes to complain about (for example, for a complaint relating to speech and hearing sciences, this should be discussed with the Programme Leader or Module Coordinator for the module concerned). 

The complaint will be considered under frontline resolution (unless complex) and a response will usually be given within 5 working days.  If the complaint is complicated, it is the student’s choice to take it to investigation stage immediately or it may be referred to the investigation stage by the person the student determined to discuss the complaint with at frontline resolution.  Should the complaint be considered under the investigation stage, a response will normally be received within 20 working days.

Any queries about the complaints procedure or any complaints written on the Complaints Form may be emailed to Complaints Email Address

Raising and Escalating Concerns

Adapted from BSc Cons Nursing Guidance


[ flow chart ]


The University insurance only provides cover for the University's legal liabilities where the University undertakes direct supervision of the student on placement.

It is a requirement for all students undertaking placements to have their own Professional Indemnity Insurance, and, where available, one of the easiest ways to do this is through their professional body.

Where a student has to travel overseas on placements, the overseas placement provider should insure the student for public liability insurance as a minimum.  The University has travel insurance and students proposing to travel out with the UK for placement should complete and submit the online form, available at Student Placement Record, no later than four weeks prior to their proposed start date.  This ensures that the University's Finance team have the required information and the student will be issued with the relevant Insurance Policy details and Emergency Contact information.