Practice Placements

Creating Tomorrow’s Workforce Today: Practice Placements in the Community Managed Mental Health Sector

The community sector has great potential to enhance both the quantity and quality of student professional entry practice placements. Community sector practice placements help to develop the future health and community services workforce and to build skills in integrated and coordinated service delivery.

MHCC conducted three projects between 2013 and 2015 to strengthen relationships with, and enhance the capacity of both, community sector organisations and higher education providers for student practice placements. Work undertaken was in collaboration with the NSW Health – Health Education and Training Institute (HETI) and former Interdisciplinary Clinical Training Networks (ICTNs). MHCC worked with a range of partners to explore and build the capacity of the community sector for student practice placements.

The three projects undertaken to increase both the quality and quantity of community sector ‘clinical’/practice placements are (Click the following for more information):

2014 Work Integrated Supervision Learning Project

Mental Health Coordinating Council (2014). Work Integrated Learning: Towards Development of a Community Sector Interprofessional Learning and Supervision Model (IPL&SM). Mental Health Coordinating Council, Sydney.

The ‘Interprofessional Learning and Supervision Model (IPL&SM) Report’ consolidates experience and learning from the three projects undertaken between 2013 and 2015. In this report the objectives, activities and outcomes of the two 2014 projects are discussed. Fifteen recommendations regarding directions for student practice placements and related workforce development within the NSW community managed mental health sector are presented. These recommendations are drawn from all three projects mentioned above, and also take into consideration the broader context for further activity.

Read the report

Nisbet, G, McAllister, L., and Heydon, M. (2014). A Peer Group Mentoring Framework for the Development of Student Supervisors. Mental Health Coordinating Council, Sydney.

The ‘Peer Group Mentoring Framework for the Development of Student Supervisors’ provides an evidence-based framework to guide organisations in supporting and further developing their staff involved in student supervision. The Framework draws together a synthesis of the peer group mentoring literature; findings from stakeholder interviews on their views of peer group mentoring; and, a trial of a peer group mentoring program. A model for a peer group mentoring program is included along with supporting resources. Finally, recommendations for its implementation and evaluation are provided.

Read the report

2014 Practice Placement Project Enhancement

2015 Practice Placement Listing

Mental Health Coordinating Council (2014). 2015 Practice Placement Listing: Mental Health Workforce Professional Entry Practice Placements in the NSW Community Managed Mental Health Sector. MHCC, Sydney.

The 2013 NSW community managed mental health sector ‘Practice Placement Listing’ was updated for 2015. It now includes opportunities within 28 community sector organisations delivering numerous programs for people affected by mental health and/or drug and alcohol problems across NSW that are keen to accept students for practice placements. It also includes university contacts for seven key professions across 12 NSW universities preparing students to deliver health and community services in the future.

Read the report

2013 Practice Placement Project

The primary objective of the 2013 ‘Practice Placement Project’ (PPP) was to establish relationships between universities and non-government community managed organisations (CMOs/NGOs) that deliver services to people affected by mental illness/distress towards increasing professional entry practice placement opportunities in NSW. The broader context of the project was to better understand community sector options to increase health workforce training capacity given the increasing shortage of available student placements in public and private hospitals and health care settings and predicted 2025 health workforce shortages.

This was an extremely valued and important opportunity to increase the availability of training places, expose emerging health professionals to recovery oriented service provision, enhance future service coordination and encourage new entrants into the community managed mental health workforce.

A collection of resources was developed through the project to help ensure sustainability of the learning that occurred and to support CMOs and higher education providers (HEPS) to undertake community sector student practice placements – both during and after the PPP.

  • Scoping Report
  • Placement Guide
  • Placement Listing (updated through the 2015 Practice Placement Listing)
  • Project Report
  • Webcast

View these PDF resources   Watch the webcast

2015 work with University of Sydney

In 2015, MHCC also collaborated on another HETI/ICTN funded project undertaken by the University of Sydney to develop a suite of interprofessional learning resources for students and their supervisors to use in placement settings. Interprofessional learning occurs when two or more professions learn about, from and with each other to improve collaboration and health outcomes (World Health Organisation, 2010).

MHCC has pursued strong directions in community sector mental health workforce

development since 2004 to influence government directions and enhance community sector recovery-oriented and trauma-informed learning and development. The HETI projects contribute to this strategic direction.

A word about language

Rather than use the term ‘clinical placement’ to refer to the student placement period in a community managed organisation (CMO), this project uses the term ‘practice placement’.

Traditionally, the word ‘clinical’ has been associated with a medical model of treatment, rehabilitation and support.

The clinical model focuses on assessing a person’s symptoms, and treating them systematically.

CMOs deliver both ‘clinical’ and ‘non-clinical’ (ie, psychosocial rehabilitation and recovery/disability support) services.

However, the term ‘non-clinical’ has decreasing usage as it fails to give due recognition to:

  • the importance of looking at individuals holistically
  • using a recovery oriented approach that takes into account social context and other factors that impact on an individual’s well-being (e.g., social connectedness; meaningful employment or activities; secure housing; and, access to a range of services)
  • maximising consumer autonomy and self-direction in all aspects of service delivery.

For further information on the two Practice Placement Projects, Work Integrated Learning Supervision Project and supporting resources please contact:

Tina Smith – Senior Policy Advisor Sector Development
Mental Health Coordinating Council