What to know before going on placement

Posted in: Department for Health, Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Placements

Having been on placement now for 6 months, these are some of the things I have learnt and advice I would give to those of you starting a placement.

  • Being nervous is completely normal. Any new situation or environment may be nerve-wracking since it is the unknown. However, worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet isn’t beneficial. Try and channel those worries into positive ideas which can help minimise your doubts and concerns. Everyone has been in your position before; everyone must start somewhere. But also, even qualified professionals never stop learning! Placement supervisors are generally very patient and understanding. You can always talk to your personal tutor or placement officer.


  • Be organised and prepared. Make sure you know where to go on your first day, practice the route prior. Prepare your bag the night before. This may include your ID badge, a mask (ah… covid), a pen and paper for any important notes, grips, and hair bands (in case yours breaks!), a water bottle- I have one of those hourly drink ones as I don’t tend to drink enough, and this encourages me to do so. A pre-made lunch, including healthy snacks too! (Sorry, I don’t mean to sound like your mother!). I made 2 portions of pasta for dinner, so then I could take it for lunch the next day.

  • Also, dress appropriately for the job. Some placements may not have a uniform. In the first half of my placement, in Exeter there wasn’t a uniform, therefore it was just causal. In Bristol Children’s hospital, is similar to Exeter apart from it has to be smart, so suit trousers or long dresses with tights etc. This uniform is similar to that of some of the doctors and dietitians too. Ensure you wash and iron your uniform beforehand; don’t leave it until the morning of! I put my clothes in a neat pile in the evening before so when I wake up all I have to do is get changed. Also, I am defiantly not a person to have breakfast in the morning, 1 because I normally don’t wake up in the morning if I don’t have to; I’m a sucker for a lie in until lunchtime! And 2, I just can’t eat early. However, since my body is getting into a routine being up at 7:30, I am starting to be hungrier and managing to eat a slice of toast or a banana on my walk to work. If you can, try and eat before you start work.


  • Ensure self-care. This one should go without saying, but self-care and maintaining a healthy work/life balance is critical on placement. It might be quite tempting to come in early to prepare or stay in late to finish everything, but this can be a very unhealthy habit to develop. Making time on your days off meal prep, have some fun, and spend time with your loved ones, even if it's only for a few hours or over the phone. But don’t overdo it, still allow time for rest and relaxation before the week ahead.

Also on the weekends, if you can I recommend doing your food shop and meal planning for the week ahead. As the last thing you want to be doing is coming home and having to think about what you want for dinner and lunch tomorrow. Batch cooking may seem extreme, but it will save you time and money. Find a meal which you can make lots of, such as pasta bake, cook enough for 4 meals (or more if you really like it!), and you can have one meal the next day and freeze the rest for whenever you fancy.

  • Lastly, keep talking. Keep talking to your friends and family about anything and everything. This is really important (as I’m sure you are aware) for your mental health. It also helps to ‘escape’ from work, speaking about everything else.

Posted in: Department for Health, Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Placements


  • (we won't publish this)

Write a response