Student Speech and Language Therapists’ Experiences of Clinical Placement: Perceptions of Stress and Methods of Coping
Farquhar, Helen Victoria
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Background: The clinical placement is a fundamental part of pre-registration training for student speech and language therapists in the United Kingdom. Levels of stress experienced by students during their clinical placements can impact on their ability to learn and cope in the workplace. Additionally, because of the high risk of occupational stress in health professionals it is imperative that student speech and language therapists have adequate coping resources to see them through their clinical training and continue to support them throughout their professional careers. Aims: The aim of the study was to ascertain and explore the perception and sources of stress, coping mechanisms used, and ratings of how helpful these coping mechanisms were, in student speech and language therapists during clinical placements. Methods & Procedures: A total of 40 student speech and language therapists from one university, in two distinct groups (second and fourth year students) completed a questionnaire rating a series of statements regarding their perceptions of levels and sources of stress, the coping mechanisms they utilise and how helpful they regard them to be. Quantitative data analysis identified factors influencing the levels of stress experienced by students and the coping mechanisms used. Outcomes & Results: Overall, moderate levels of stress were reported. However, results indicated fourth year students experienced much higher levels of stress, which impacted on all areas of their lives, compared with second year students. Whilst both groups reported using successful coping mechanisms there were some reports of less-than-adequate behaviours being adopted in response to stress with potentially damaging consequences. Conclusions & Implications: Results suggest that students may benefit from support in developing adaptive coping strategies and with managing stress in relation to clinical placements.
B.Sc. (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy
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