Coordinator's Corner: Best Practices for Small Teams in Clinical Education

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Coordinator's Corner: Best Practices for Small Teams in Clinical Education

Clinical education coordinators play a pivotal role in shaping the future of healthcare professionals by ensuring students receive comprehensive and practical training during their clinical rotations. This week's Coordinator's Corner draws on the experiences of Holly Miller, M.Ed., RT(R), ARRT, RSO, Associate Professor and Clinical Coordinator at Dalton State College (DSC), and Joy James, Clinical Placement Coordinator at Atrium Health Floyd, to explore best practices for enhancing the clinical education experience when you have a small team.

“I am the only Clinical Coordinator for our program. I also teach classes four days a week for both junior and senior students. We have 18 seniors and 20 juniors,” says Holly, who manages DSC's Radiologic Technology Program. “Unfortunately, we do not have on-site adjunct faculty, as some colleges do, to remain at the clinical facilities with the students while there.”

Our expert coordinators outlined the following best practices for making the most of limited time and resources while working within a smaller team.

Streamlining Administrative Duties

It is common to have only one coordinator for each academic program, and even health systems that manage rotations across all healthcare programs often have limited teams for the large number of students seeking experiences. Joy James, Clinical Placement Coordinator at Atrium Health Floyd, splits duties among their team of two.

“I focus on shadowing and high school applications, while my counterpart focuses on clinical rotations, allowing us to provide focused attention and support to our segments and tailor the ACEMAPP experience to our school’s needs,” says Joy.

This division of labor allows the coordinators to manage their tasks more efficiently and provide better support to their students.

Effective Communication

Maintaining constant communication with clinical sites is essential for staying updated on students' progress and addressing any issues promptly.

"I am constantly in contact with my clinical sites. I rely heavily on our CPs (Clinical Preceptors) to give me updates on students rotating through their clinical facility," says Holly.

This regular communication ensures that coordinators can stay informed and responsive, fostering a collaborative environment between educational institutions and clinical sites.

Proactive Scheduling

Creating schedules and assigning students to rotations in advance, while being flexible enough to make necessary adjustments, is crucial.

"It takes so much time to approve or deny the student's paperwork or to make sure the student has uploaded the correct paperwork. This is a daunting task in and of itself," says Holly.

Proactive and adaptive scheduling ensures that students can get started on completing requirements to attend the clinical experiences they need without redundancy, maximizing their learning opportunities. Schools interested in working with a team to review documents according to their standards will soon be able to add ACEMAPP Assure services to their existing subscription.

Support and Collaboration

Holly recommends utilizing existing resources to make your role run more smoothly. “Work smarter, not harder,” says Miller. “Make use of the tutorials and the help center. It is very helpful in trying to navigate the ins and outs of ACEMAPP.

Joy takes the support for her partners a step further, putting together guides for her high school educator admins. The guide includes overall process steps, links to ACEMAPP help desk guides for instructions, and a full list of requirements for participating in experiences at Atrium Health Floyd. To Joy, the extra work that goes into creating such materials is worth the time.

“I see our high school academic internships as the top of the funnel as we shape the next generation of healthcare professionals. Time and again, our interns learn that the area of nursing they thought they wanted to pursue isn't for them, but an area they hadn't considered becomes the professional pathway they choose,” says Joy.

Holly also considers the long-term implications of each clinical experience, commenting, “My students are told from day one that they are guests in these facilities. I stress to them that these opportunities are a two-year job interview. Our students are work-ready when they graduate, and most of them already have jobs lined up before they graduate.”

Collaboration and resource-sharing enhance the overall efficiency and effectiveness of clinical education programs. By implementing these best practices, clinical education coordinators can significantly enhance the learning experience for students, manage administrative tasks more efficiently, and foster the development of future healthcare professionals. Maintaining open communication, utilizing available resources, and adapting to partners' needs are key to success in this vital role.

Coordinator's Corner is a space to share ideas with fellow clinical education professionals. If you'd like to share your story, please contact us!