All NIHR SPHR Fellows and PhD students have the opportunity to work in practice as part of their award. Members of the School are who are interested in securing a placement can view the video presentations below to hear why a practice placement is important and hear experiences and top tips from current and former students and fellows who have experienced one.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) Does the placement have to be directly related to the main topic of my fellowship, or PhD, or can I undertake it on something different? Your placement does not necessarily have to relate to your project. You might want to use it as an opportunity to get some broad experience and explore another area of interest. The aim of a placement is for you to get experience in practice and build your networks.
2) If I come from a clinical background can I do a placement back in that setting but with a focus on evaluating an intervention delivered there? As long as in doing so it enables you to expand your skills, and you are going back with a different perspective than you would have had when you were originally in that setting. Again, the aim of a placement is for you to get experience in practice and build your networks.
3) Can you split the placement and do a short virtual one now and a longer placement once COVID-19 is under control and it is possible to do a placement in person? You can be flexible in your approach when organising your placement. It is possible to spread out your placement so it is embedded throughout your project and does not necessarily have to be a set block time. We would advise you to organise your placement sooner rather than later. Working remotely does give opportunities to do a placement in places that are not geographically close to you which might not have been an option previously.
4) How do I find organisations that might be potential hosts? As a member of the School and ResNet you have access to many contacts, and we can facilitate putting you in contact with potential hosts. The best place to start is on the NIHR SPHR website. All of our projects have practice partners involved, you can view our projects here. If there is a project you are interested in, you should reach out to the project lead. You can also use the ResNet forum to connect with others, build your links and explore opportunities. We would recommend that you research the organisations that you are interested in and think about what could you can contribute or offer to those organisations well as what they can offer you.
5) How do I reach out and ask people who will be busy? Reframe this question so it reads ‘what can I offer at this time to support those who are busy?’. The fact that people are busy means you might be able to support them in areas they no longer have time for. In your approach, recognise that Public Health Professionals might be busy, and also outline why you are interested in the opportunity and how you can bring benefits.
6) If I am already involved in a project such as a PHPES, do I need to do a placement too? Not necessarily. As long as the project you are involved with involves strong engagement with practice you may be able to undertake a placement as part of the project. However, please remember that this is an opportunity for you to extend your skills, learn something new and build your networks rather than a ‘tick-box’ exercise.
7) Can I do a placement outside of England? Yes but your placement must be relevant to practice in England. If it is and you can articulate a good case for undertaking the palacement outside of England then we can be flexible.
8) What are the benefits to a host organisation for offering a placement? You have a lot to offer to a placement organisation as you offer an opportunity for reciprocal learning to take place. A placement offers the opportunity for new evidence developed at a service, policy or intervention level – you offer fresh eyes on the area of work and challenge.
9) What advantages are there to students/researchers who have done a placement? Placements offer early career researchers an opportunity to gain real world experience on how policy and practice intervene and play out. It offers you an opportunity to explore ways of working in order to deliver in this space and how complex this can be.
10) How do you stand out when approaching a potential host organisation?
- Read the strategies of the organisations you want to work with and know the evidence base in the field you are applying.
- Explain how you are a self-starter and enjoy self-directed learning with support and clear direction from the outset.
- Demonstrate how you will contribute to the achievement/goals of the strategy – what skills can you offer in terms of added value?
- Identify the gaps you feel you could fill in the strategy, research or evidence base but also provide options to the placement providers within the topic area.
- Go beyond just stating that ‘x’ is your area of interest. Explain what you think is missing and how this work will contribute to the real-world evidence base etc. be flexible – you may not get exactly what you want but if you do the piece of work that your placement needs there may be a way to compromise to get to the work you want to do also.
11) Do I need to let SPHR know when I have secured a placement? You should let your member administrator and firstname.lastname@example.org know the following information: the host organisation and time scales agreed.
12) Am I required to report on my placement? SPHR will be sending a report template asking you to report on your learning outcomes of the placement as part of your training portfolio.