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Clinical Practice Placement Portfolio

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Higher Education Diploma in Nursing Studies

- Common Foundation Programme -

Clinical Practice Placement Portfolio

Student Name:



Clinical Practice Placement A



^ Clinical Practice Placement B




^ If found, please return to:



School of Nursing and Midwifery

Queen’s University Belfast

Medical Biology Centre

Lisburn Road

Belfast BT9 7BL


Clinical Assessment Strategy

Beliefs about Learning and Assessment

Any model of assessment ought to capture the developmental nature of learning and the increasing complexity of professional nursing practice. It is our belief that students are active participants in their learning and should accept an increasing level of involvement and responsibility in this process. Therefore, the concepts of progress and development are central to this assessment strategy. A guiding principle behind this approach is one which supports the notion of life-long learning and is in keeping with on-going professional development through Post-Registration for Education and Practice (PREP).

These beliefs are best operationalised in a format of assessment which is continuous in nature, integrates theory and practice, and is based on dialogue among all parties in the educational process.

^ Clinical Assessment Strategy

The overall strategy is that of a Clinical Portfolio. The portfolio will be maintained by the student throughout the Common Foundation Programme (CFP). The Clinical Portfolio, which provides a range of evidence, will serve as a basis for dialogue and enable assessors to evaluate the extent to which appropriate learning outcomes have been achieved. The primary focus of the Clinical Portfolio is to assess the holistic integration of clinical skills and underpinning theoretical and evidence-based issues.

The Clinical Portfolio will have two inter-related sections. Section One will be a record of a student's on-going development of clinical skills, while Section Two incorporates a range of evidence which a student will present to demonstrate awareness of the theoretical and research-based issues which underpin clinical practice.

Both sections of the portfolio will reflect student development and are designed to meet the learning outcomes for each Clinical Module in the CFP. The clinical progress of a student will be monitored at points throughout the CFP by the use of formative and summative assessment.

Clinical Skills Centre

The nature and amount of practice required for the development and acquisition of clinical skills can be affected by multiple factors. In recognition of this situation, the learning experiences gained in the Clinical Skills Centre will be used to formatively assess the student. Therefore, Level D (of the Nicol et al. Framework, see appendix I) will be the expected level of achievement prior to the student practising their clinical skills in a care setting.

^ Clinical Practice Portfolio

Section 1 Practice skills document

The practice skills document will act as a record of the student’s activity. The document identifies a range of skills which normally the student is expected to have achieved by the end of the CFP. It is recognised that the student may not have the opportunity to engage in all skills in the practice setting, therefore skills assessment may be undertaken in the practice setting and / or the clinical skills centre. A viva voce (outlined below) may be required for skills not achieved by the end of Clinical Module B.

Section 2 Range of Evidence - will include the following

  • Learning Outcomes

Each placement will have a specified set of learning outcomes which the student will be expected to achieve on completion of each practice placement.

  • ^ Core Criteria for Professional Practice

The core criteria will form part of the progress report which will be completed by the student, the mentor and the link nurse lecturer. The criteria address the following issues:

Orientation to placement;

Achievement of learning outcomes.

Commitment to professional values;

Interpersonal effectiveness and communication;

Commitment to personal and professional growth;

  • ^ Self Assessment Record / Identification of Learning

The student will be encouraged through the activity of self-assessment to reflect on strengths and weaknesses and how learning outcomes for each placement have been achieved.

  • Action Plan

The student will formulate an action plan which will assist in determining future goals and priorities. The action plan must be authenticated by the nurse lecturer.

^ Evaluation of Learning

  • Reflective diary

The student will complete a reflective diary whilst on clinical placement. This activity is aimed at facilitating the student to record/recall personal experiences and observations which can be used to increase understanding, thereby further enhancing the clinical environment as a positive learning environment.


Assessment of Clinical Skills

The assessment of clinical skills is based on the framework outlined by Nicol et al (1996; Appendix 1). This framework allows students to develop competence in clinical and communication skills over the span of the whole of the CFP (and beyond).

The format for the assessment is the Schedule of Skills Development (adapted from the Clinical Skills Centre at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London) which is a composite list of the skills required by students of nursing and medicine (Dacre and Nicol, 1996).

Within the Schedule, skills are listed by body systems, with subdivisions into: assessment and diagnostic skills; caring, comfort and safety skills; and therapeutic and technical skills. By listing the clinical practice skills in this way it is possible to identify the level of performance for each skill at specific points during the programme.

In keeping with a philosophy which recognises the development of competence to be incremental, and a framework in which there are various stages of clinical skill development, summative assessment (for clinical skills) will take place only at the end of Clinical Module A and B.

In order to facilitate all parties concerned with the assessment of clinical skills, only those skills which have been identified as ‘core skills’ shall be awarded a grading.

^ Method for awarding a grading to the level of clinical skill:

  • The grading shall be awarded to the ‘core skills’ identified. These ‘core skills’ are in bold print to make them easily recognisable in Section 1 of each student’s practice portfolio.

  • ‘Sub-components’ of the core skills are listed but these are to be regarded as guidance to remind students, mentors and lecturers of the scope of the skill concerned and, also, facilitate individuals in arriving at a conclusion as to what extent the ‘core skill’ has been achieved

  • Spaces have been left at appropriate places in the list of clinical skills. This is in recognition of the fact that it is impossible to accurately predict either a complete list of skills, or the circumstances in which they happen. In instances where the student has had appropriate exposure to a clinical skill which is not listed (either as a ‘core skill’, or a sub-component’ of a core skill) then it should be manually entered into the appropriate place in the skills list

  • Please note while every opportunity should be taken to help the student gain a wide experience – the student would not be expected to perform skills for which they have not been prepared.


Formative Assessment of Clinical Skills

Formative assessment is the mechanism which facilitates evaluation of the student’s on-going development of clinical skills and integration of theoretical knowledge. It is a process-driven form of assessment in which the actual process is as important as the outcome.

Formative assessment has no “pass/fail” criteria. Whilst it is recognised that students do not "fail" formative assessments they shall nevertheless be reminded of the importance of all assessment of clinical work as it contributes to evidence for summative assessments as indicated in the skills document.

A discursive approach to formative assessment is the key to providing the student with accurate feedback of progress and also guidance on any areas of weakness with respect to clinical skill development and construction of the Clinical Portfolio.

In Semester I formative assessment will be conducted by a Nurse Lecturer who will provide guidance and evaluation of the student's developing portfolio. At this stage the portfolio will contain results from Clinical Skills Centre work and early evidence of theoretical learning which the student is starting to integrate.

Normally, a student is expected to achieve a grade D in clinical skills assessment before being permitted to practice in a care setting. A student who fails to achieve grade D will be required to undertake further practice of the identified core clinical skills in the Clinical Skills Centre. A further re-assessment of their clinical skill development will take place within one week. Failure to achieve grade D on re-assessment will cause the students profile to be brought to the attention of the Course Director.

In Clinical Modules A and B clinical placement of four weeks will have a midway review at the mid-point and an end-point assessment. The mid-point assessment will be used to highlight student development and areas of weakness. The end-point formative assessment will take place in the last week of placement. These assessments will normally be conducted by the student's mentor. (However, the link Nurse Lecturer in the normal course of their clinical visits may be involved at this stage).

In placements of less than four weeks students may complete a self-assessment, although a Mentor’s assessment is desirable.

Failure to secure the appropriate grade in clinical modules will require the student to discuss their progress with their Link Lecturer and a mutually agreed action plan shall be put in place which requires the student to undertake further practice of clinical skills in practice settings and / or the Skills Centre. Lecturers and Mentors are advised to use the Cause for Concern Section if required.

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