Published: 17-04-2024 11:30 | Updated: 19-04-2024 07:55

What is on-site training like?

Portraits of students Elin and Jonas.
Students Elin and Jonas have both done on-site training. Photo: Private.

Several of KI’s programmes include on-site training as one of the teaching methods. On-site training is sometimes called VFU, which is the abbreviation of the Swedish term, and was previously known as clinical education. We asked two KI students, physiotherapy student Elin and psychology student Jonas, what it’s like to do on-site training and what to think about before going on your first placement.

Hi Elin and Jonas! Have you done any on-site training?

Elin: I'm on my fifth term in the physiotherapy programme, a programme with a lot of on-site training. It's included in every term, and the number of on-site training hours increases as you progress through the programme.

Jonas: I'm in my tenth term of the psychology programme. During the eighth term, I did my 13-week on-site training at Karolinska Huddinge within the OCD programme, a specialist clinic treating obsessive-compulsive disorder and related conditions.

Do you have any upcoming on-site training planned?

Elin: Right now, I'm doing on-site training at the outpatient clinic for just over seven weeks. I'm at Praktikertjänst in Flemingsberg and really enjoying it. My next on-site training will be the in-depth practice in the sixth term and KUA. KUA stands for clinical education department in Swedish. During KUA, students from different programmes (physiotherapy, occupational therapy, nursing, and medical) work together to manage a ward at the hospital.

Jonas: No, I'm in my final term and will be graduating this summer. I'll start my PTP (practical service for psychologists) this autumn at BUP OCD.

How did you acquire your on-site training placements?

Elin:  In my programme, students get help finding our on-site training placements from a coordinator, which is very helpful. We get assigned our placements based on where we live.

Jonas: I chose my on-site training placement from several options on a list prepared by the administrative staff of my programme.

What do you think about having on-site training? What lessons have you drawn from it?

Elin: I have mixed experiences from my on-site training periods. Some have been better than others, but overall, I've learned a lot and developed both theoretically and practically. I've always felt that I've learned something after all my on-site training periods. Some lessons I have drawn are that I'm still a student and not yet a qualified physiotherapist. It's okay to find things difficult and not have all the answers. You learn something new all the time, and that will continue to be the case even after I graduate.

Jonas: Overall, I was satisfied with my placement. My experience at the clinic at Karolinska Huddinge was incredibly positive. I had the opportunity to do a wide variety of tasks, from psychological treatments and reassessments to family training programmes. The placement was divided so that 80% of the time was spent at the clinic, and the remaining 20% was devoted to observation. That meant that one day a week, I visited other clinics and followed other healthcare professionals in their work, which was very instructive. The biggest lesson I take away from the practice is the realisation that some things take time. You'll probably feel nervous at first, and that's totally fine.

Do you have any tips for other students going out on on-site training?

Elin: Don’t be afraid to ask questions to your supervisors! And ask too many questions rather than too few. On-site training can be scary, and you often need to step out of your comfort zone a bit, but that's also where you learn the most. During on-site training, we get the chance to apply what we learn in school with real patients with support from supervisors.

Jonas: Dare to take initiative! Don't be scared to ask other colleagues if you can observe when they have patient consultations or ask your supervisor if there are more tasks available when you feel more confident. It may also be a good idea to ask previous students about their experiences when choosing your on-site training placement. I did that and chose the OCD programme because of its excellent reputation.