Core placements

Three female students outside walking away from the Queen Elizabeth hospital

Placements are an integral part of our nursing degrees at Birmingham. You will have the opportunity to practice nursing in some of the country's leading healthcare trusts, ranging from community care, to acute care and regional and national centres of excellence. 

By choosing to study nursing at Birmingham you'll be based in one of the largest healthcare regions in the UK and throughout your studies you'll gain experiences with a wide range of patients under the guidance of skilled clinicians. 

Clinical placements are between 4 and 12 weeks long and you will be continually assessed by a Registered Nurse Practice Assessor. You will also be supported by Practice Supervisors during each placement.

Your placement questions answered

Where are my placements likely to be?

We have high quality hospitals and community placements within a short distance of the University. Currently, the majority of hospital placements are within a short distance of the University, often less than five miles. Community placements and some hospital placements are further afield but these are mostly within 10 miles of the University, with a small number of placements between 11-17 miles. 

In the first year of your chosen course, you will gain invaluable exposure to a number of fields of practice settings, such as Adult, Mental Health and Child & Public Health nursing. 

There are 3 field specific clinical placements in hospital and community settings in your second year.

In the final year there are field-specific clinical placements in hospital and community settings and at the end of the course there is a ‘Leadership in nursing’ placement, followed by a 4 week ‘sign off’ placement. The ‘sign off’ period is when you work with a ‘sign off’ mentor who will assess your proficiency and will ‘sign off’ the completion of the practice part of your programme, confirming that you have achieved the standards of competence required for entry to the NMC register.

Adult field of practice

Your experience will include medical and surgical nursing, rehabilitation of adults and working with older adults. You will develop understanding of adult mental health and care for adults with a learning disability. You'll learn about care provided during pregnancy and for babies, children and young people. Practice experience will include some simulated learning, but mainly taken in a variety of placements from one or more of the following placement partners. More information can be found on the following websites:

Mental Health field of practice

You will have the opportunity to work with children and adolescents through to older adults with mental health problems. You will work in community, residential and hospital settings, gaining a wide range of clinical skills. More information can be found on the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust website. 

Child field of practice

Your placements will focus on the child and their family; you will work in local nurseries, communities and hospitals, as well as the internationally renowned Diana, Princess of Wales, Children's Hospital. More information can be found on the following websites:

How am I supervised and assessed?

You will be continually assessed on clinical placements and be supported by a Practice Assessor and Practice Supervisor, as well as an Academic Assessor. At the University of Birmingham, you will have the opportunity to practice nursing in some of the country's leading healthcare trusts ranging from primary care, to acute care and also tertiary centres of excellence in the Birmingham and Solihull area. You will undertake a range of diverse and exciting clinical placements, gaining a variety of experiences with a wide range of client groups, under the guidance of skilled clinicians.

In order to maximise your learning experience on clinical placements, practice placement teams organise teaching sessions, student forums and provide on-going clinical support for Practice Assessors/Supervisors and nursing students. Academic Assessors from the University of Birmingham also provide support and guidance for students and Practice Assessors/Supervisors, facilitating student forums on clinical link tutor visit days and visiting placement areas regularly.

How are my placements allocated?

Placements are allocated to match your stage in the course, past course experience and chosen field of practice. All placements enable you to develop your knowledge, skills and professional values related to the academic module you are studying at the time.

Although placements are allocated by the placement administrator, in the final year of the course you can indicate your preferences for the final long placement at the end of the course.

For your elective placement in the second year of the course, this is identified and arranged by you, with guidance from the placement team and elective academic lead. Your elective placement can be local, national or international. There are University funds available that students can apply for to assist with their elective placement. 

Can I change a placement?

Although we book placements several weeks in advance, we have a process you can use to indicate those placements that may not be suitable for you. This may be for a number of personal reasons and we will endeavour to accommodate these needs whenever possible. If your circumstances change at short notice we can request a change of your allocated placement to help support you, and this can be accommodated if alternative placements are available at the time. 

What hours will I work?

You will attend a variety of placement areas with different hours of working. Start and finish times of shifts vary, with some early shifts starting at 7am and some late shifts end at 10pm. All students are expected to work some nights, weekends, and a mix of early and late shifts. Your average working week will be 37.5 hours and your shifts will be arranged so that you work alongside the nurse who has been allocated to be your mentor and guide. In some areas it may be possible to negotiate some flexibility with your shift patterns, but this can be limited as it is a requirement that you work with your assigned mentor regularly. 

How will I get to my placements?

You are responsible for making your own way to placements. If you have the right type of insurance you can use your own car, although this is not necessary as Birmingham has a good transport network and placements are accessible by public transport. 

What if I am ill or have an emergency?

If you become ill or you have an emergency, we ask that you contact the placement area and the University. If you are absent from your placement for a significant period to time, we will review your support needs and your placement schedule, making arrangements for you to attend the placement later if required. 

How do I make up the hours if I am absent?

We plan to have a small surplus of hours in the course, so if you have a short absence from practice we can usually accommodate this. If you are off for a longer period of time, we will make arrangements for you to make the time up at a later stage in the course to enable you to meet the Nursing and Midwifery Council attendance requirements.