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0091 Preparing Communication Skills For Clinical Placement
  1. Stella Whitton
  1. Birmingham City University, Birmingham West Midlands, UK


Background The Standards of Proficiency and of Conduct, Performance and ethics set by the Health Professions Council (HCPC) require Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) to be able to demonstrate effective and appropriate skills in communicating information, advice, instruction and professional opinion to colleagues, service users, their relatives and carers in a professional manner as core skills. (HCPC SoP 1b.3 2003, HCPC SoCPE, 2003).

Innovation In the speech and language therapy department at Birmingham City University, we have established a Level 4 module ‘Introduction to Professional Practice’ developing key aspects of professional awareness; the primary focus being communication skills. This is assessed through 100% practical Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) in which students are required:

  • to perform specific skills and behaviours

  • in a simulated clinical or patient care environment

  • at one or more "stations" in the assessment location (RCSLT 2010).

Since inception in 2012 it is subject to continued refinement through practise and student feedback.

Aim To prepare students’ readiness for clinical placement.

Method Students had learning opportunities in;

  • Small group teaching on verbal and non-verbal communication

  • Reflective practice

  • Conversation with service users

  • Simulations of working on a ward and within schools.

  • Assessment though 4 OSCE tasks to demonstrate:

    • Communication: clarity of expression, content and differentiation of language with the communicative partner when gathering and giving information

    • The ability to explain clinical decisions to assessors

    • Reflective practice (Taylor 2010)

Conclusions and recommendations Feedback from students has been 100% agreeing/ strongly agreeing that the module and assessment reflected the learning outcomes. Clinical educators have commented on the improvement in performance on placement. Formal evaluations of the impact of this level 4 module learning and assessment on the corresponding learning outcomes of communication, reflective practice and professionalism in the level 5 clinical placement, will be done at the end of this academic year.


  1. Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) (2003) Standards of conduct, performance and ethics: speech and language therapists (accessed 11/06/14)

  2. Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) (2003) Standards of proficiency: Speech and Language Therapists (accessed 11/06/14)

  3. Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) (2010) Guidelines for pre-registration speech and language therapy courses in the UK.

  4. Taylor BJ. (2010) Reflective Practice for Healthcare Professionals. 3rd edn. Maidenhead:OUP

  5. Washer P. (2009) Clinical Communication Skills. Oxford: OUP

  • Category: Course or curriculum evaluation/innovation/integration

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