How to survive a placement – by Chelsea Chiu Yee Yu

Guest blog by 3rd year BSc Physiotherapy student, Chelsea Chiu Yee Yu.

Many students will be heading off on placements during the coming semester and, having completed two myself, I thought I’d share some tips that you could find useful.


I’ve completed two placements as a student physiotherapist from September to December 2015. Although it was very tiring and hard work, the placement was worth it to gain real-world experience. I now feel as if I’m prepared to enter the world of work.

Here are a few tips I hope will help you get the most out of your placement.

1. Remember you are human. Don’t take on too much

It’s only natural to want to make a great impression and gain a good appraisal from your supervisors. You still need to rest enough and stay healthy during your placement. Try and get an average of eight-hours sleep a night and allow yourself to sleep in longer on days your not working. Exercising and hanging out with friends will also help keep to you refreshed.

Chelsea Chiu Yee Yu
2. Stay positive

It is inevitable that you have some ups and downs during your placement. Make sure you keep your chin up and talk to people if you feel yourself getting overwhelmed. Try to talk to your friends, colleagues or tutors to see if they can give you guidance about how to deal with any difficulties. Always try and remain positive and stay professional when dealing with colleagues and clients or, in my case being a healthcare professional, patients.

3. Make notes

Every day I arrived for my placement, I would always bring a little notebook with me. When appropriate I would write that down anything new I encountered and then do further research either online or in the library outside of work hours. If I find some interesting information or better practices, I’d tell my supervisor(s) in order to show y independent-learning skills and also show how valuable I (and graduates in general) could be to them. Adding value like this will do wonders towards the report your placement employer will give you when your time with them ends.

Chelsea Chiu Yee Yu

4. Be friendly

Work doesn’t have to be a hard slog. There are plenty of things you can do to enhance your experience in the workplace. The easiest way is to always have a smile on your face and talk to people. If you’re working closely with customers, clients or partners, always greet them warmly with a big smile. Personalise your work space with things that make you happy – be it photos of loved ones or Lego Star Wars figures. More smile, more care to everyone can make you and others feel relaxed.

Most importantly, stay calm and keep at it! Placements are a fantastic opportunity to gain some real-world experience in your chosen industry.

Enjoy it, embrace it and squeeze every little bit of experience.