Managing student issues

One of the more challenging aspects of your role as a Clinical Preceptor is related to addressing student issues encountered during the WPL experience.

Student absences

If there are medical reasons or extenuating circumstances that prevents a student from attending a placement or part of their placement, they are required to notify the following people before their shift begins:

  • You, their Clinical Preceptor or other Site supervisor.
  • Their Clinical Subject Coordinator.

Students are required to provide a medical certificate or other appropriate documentation for all absences. The certificate must be forwarded to the clinical subject coordinator. Their clinical subject coordinator will then advise the student to formally apply for special consideration. A medical clearance to practice is required following injury, surgery or a serious illness requiring extended leave. Students are advised to contact the clinical subject coordinator prior to returning to placement.

Your role in managing student absences

If one of your students is absent from placement for any length of time (e.g. one hour to days) and you have not heard from the student directly, as well as trying to contact your student, you should also contact the relevant clinical subject coordinator immediately to let them know that the student has not presented. This is:

  • so that the subject coordinator can follow up re the student’s health and safety
  • to notify the subject coordinator of the amount of time that the student has missed.

Additional Workplace Learning hours

If one of your students is absent from placement, they may ask you if they can 'make up these hours' during their placement. Students cannot undertake 'makeup time'.

Loss of hours is accounted for in the time booked for placements across the entire course of study. Should one of your students ask you if they can make up hours, please refer them to their clinical subject coordinator and/or WPL lead.

Workplace safety and risk management

Students may experience a range of unplanned situations while undertaking their placement for WPL. For example:


If one of your students should sustain an injury (physical or psychological) while on placement, as well as following facility policy in relation to reporting a work, health and safety issue, the injury/accident must also be reported to:

  • you, their preceptor
  • their Clinical Subject Coordinator (you must email/contact them directly).

As well as completing health facility reporting requirements, students will also be advised to complete the Charles Sturt Incident Form.

Body substance exposure

Body substance exposure is viewed as an injury. In the event that a student is exposed during a placement for WPL (eg. needle stick injury, eye splash), students are to follow health facility policy. As well as the initial first aid response, the following must be implemented:

  • Report to relevant department at the health facility.
  • Notify the clinical subject coordinator.
  • Complete Charles Sturt incident form.
  • Counselling to be arranged if required.

If relevant you can encourage the student to read the following information at NSW Health

Protecting students

While on placement, students are potentially vulnerable and it is your responsibility to notify the clinical subject coordinator of any incident or concern where the student is or could be compromised. Such circumstances may include:

  • Participant or witness to a critical incident that may/has resulted in a report or investigation.
  • Witness or be a victim of bullying, sexual harassment or other unacceptable behaviours by staff, clients or members of the public.
  • Being asked to work in an environment with unsafe or inappropriate standards of practice.


During placement for WPL, students are indemnified under the Charles Sturt public liability insurance policy. This covers any damage they may cause to the health institution’s property or injury they may cause to staff or patients as a result of an act, error or omission. Charles Sturt does not insure student’s personal property and for this reason, students take their personal property on placements at their own risk.

More on insurance

Students who wish to make a complaint

There can be times when students are unhappy during their placement for WPL. This can relate to issues such as shift allocation or professional relationships with supervisors or other team members. As their clinical preceptor, they may voice their concerns to you in the first instance. These situations can be stressful for both the student and you the clinical facilitator. Students have a right to make a complaint however it is important that complaints are dealt with in a professional manner. Below is the process to follow should a student make a complaint during their placement for WPL.

Student makes complaint to Clinical Preceptor during placement

  • CP resolves situation on behalf of student.
  • CP sends email to Clinical Subject Coordinator and/or WPL lead summarising situation.

Complaint cannot be resolved to student's satisfaction

  • Student and Clinical Preceptor to notify clinical subject coordinator in writing.

Situation requires urgent response