Practicum: Frequently Asked Questions

For Students
What can I expect to achieve from a practicum experience?

Your practicum experience is an opportunity to apply the knowledge you’ve learned in the classroom directly to the health care industry. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to work on tasks that will further your understanding of Office Administration-Medical and the possible career options you can pursue. Use this opportunity to work on organizational projects, ask questions, network, and learn a wide range of skills that will serve in your development as future personnel in health care. Your practicum experience can be what you make it to be!

What should I do to prepare for my practicum?

There is a lot you must do to prepare for your first practicum. Please see the student check list and refer to your student handbook for a complete list. Two requirements that will take some time and you should do during the summer prior to returning for you third term are:

  • Occupational Health & Safety Department – Communicable Disease Surveillance Program
  • Student’s medical requirements in the Office Administration-Medical program include; proof of immunity to varicella, measles, mumps, rubella (2 doses), hepatitis B and tetanus diphtheria, as well as documentation of a 2 step TB test is required. This is a requirement for placements in a hospital environment and compliance with Public Hospitals Act.
  • Vulnerable Persons/Criminal Records Check
  • All students are required to complete and clear a vulnerable person/criminal records check for all practicum placements.

Are practicum positions paid?

No. Practicum experience positions are not paid. In exchange for your work, your employer is providing an applied learning experience and fulfilling the program requirements. In some cases, students may find a practicum position on their own that is paid. In such instances, a student must inform the Placement and Program Support Officer.

When does it begin and end?

In order to graduate you must successfully complete a total of 188 hours of practicum. Before you start your third term of classes in the fall you should have handed in your immunization and police record forms. In the fall of your second year you will start a 4 weeks in class course with the Placement and Program Support Officer. You will cover issues pertaining to confidentiality, privacy and other topics. Employers will be paired with students and you will work at your assigned workplace starting the beginning part of October. During that third term of school you will complete 80 hour (10 weeks at 8 hours a day, once a week) and during your final term at school you will complete about 112 hours of practicum (14 weeks at 8 hours a day, once a week). There is a extra little time beyond the 188 required hours just in case…

How am I supposed to travel to my assigned employer?

Students are responsible for all personal transportation and associated costs while attending practicum.

What will I need to wear while at work? Do I need to buy a work wardrobe?

Students are responsible for following guidelines of acceptable conduct and attire while on practicum. The student must have a neat appearance and good personal hygiene. Business casual attire is acceptable for administrative professions in a practicum setting.

What are my responsibilities?

  • Exhibits dependability and punctuality; adhere to the employer’s hours of work
  • Work effectively and respect others in a team setting
  • Meet dress code standards set by the employer
  • Complies with established procedures and policies in professional settings
  • Exhibits effective organization and customer service skills i.e. telephone manners/techniques
  • Follow established rules, policies and or commonly accepted professional practice i.e. maintain confidentiality with all information
  • Performs in a safe manner that minimizes risk to client/patient/customer, self and others

Students are expected to respect the privacy of patients/clients in all instances and maintain confidentiality with all information that they are privileged to collect and use during their practicum. Any breach of confidentiality will be reviewed and may result in a student’s dismissal from their practicum experience.

Where can I do a practicum?

Practicum experiences can be completed in community offices; doctors, chiropractors, physiotherapists health clinics) or in institutional (hospitals, nursing homes, hospice,) settings.

Positions outside of the field of Office Administration-Medical will not be approved as a practicum. Practicum experience should be selected with the intention of furthering your understanding in the field of Office Administration-Medical.

Can I arrange my own practicum?

Many of the practicum placements will exist as a result of the professors’ and Placement and Program Support Officer’s efforts however if a student does establish a lead for an opportunity the student should give the employer’s contact information to the Placement and Program Support Officer so that all details of the placement can be determined. Students finding placements for themselves is encouraged.

Do I stay with the same employer for both terms or can I change?

Generally, you will have different employers for each of the practicum terms.

What if I am sick and miss a day?

Attendance

Students must complete 188 hours per term to meet course requirements. Missing any practicum days may put the student at risk for receiving a failing grade in the course. In the event of absence or illness, students must follow the procedure below with reporting their absence to the employer and the college.

Reporting Absence

The student must notify the employer that they will be absent and follow-up call to the Liaison Practicum Officer.

When reporting an absence due to illness, students must submit to Placement and Program Support Officer a physician note to address all absent days of practicum.

Can I change my practicum placement for my final term at school, after Christmas?

Ideally we would like each student to have one practicum term with a community partner (Medical office) and another term in an institutional setting (Hospital, old age home). This arrangement may not always be possible. If a student and employer agree to extend the student practicum for a second term, the arrangement must be discussed and sanctioned by the Placement and Program Support Officer.


For Employers
My workplace requires all staff to be immunized. Will the students be properly immunized?

Students have been instructed to have immunizations completed before they return to school in the fall. See Forms for Students – Occupational Health & Safety Department – Communicable Disease Surveillance Program Form for more detail. This precaution is a requirement for placements in a hospital environment and compliance with Public Hospitals Act.

Prior to starting the students will have satisfied the following:

Proof of immunity to varicella, measles, mumps, rubella (2 doses), hepatitis B and tetanus diphtheria, as well as documentation of a 2 step TB test is required.

What is my financial responsibility for students' safety? Will my insurance have to cover them as my employee?

Students are covered for any injury at your workplace through the College’s student coverage program. On the first day of practicum, the student will deliver to the employer the “Work/Education Placement/Post-Secondary form #63-1352” (please see Forms for Employers) for the employer to complete the applicable sections including a signature. The pink copy of the form will be returned to the Placement and Program Support Officer and retained in the student’s file. Should an accident occur while the student is on practicum, refer to the document reporting WSIB incident.

How much will this cost me? What level of remuneration is expected of me?

A practicum placement, unlike a co-op placement, is not a paid experience. Students rely on the mentorship of their practicum employer to give them opportunities to put their skills and teaching into practice. Your mentorship is the ‘remuneration’ expected.

How many hours a week will the student work?

Students will require a total of 188 practicum hours to be completed before graduation. These hours will be satisfied if the student works 10 weeks in the fall term (8-hour days) and 14 weeks (8-hour days) in the winter term. The students schedule allows for this full day work experience to take place on Tuesdays starting October, 1 2013.

The month of September will be used to prepare the students and match the students with the participating employers. Students must complete 188 hours so missing any practicum days may put the student at risk resulting in a failed grade for this portion of the program thereby at risk to graduate.

In the event of absence or illness, students must report their absence to the employer and the college.

Completing 188 hours in between October and April might be difficult. What if the student has to call in sick?

The student must notify the employer that they will be absent and place a follow-up call to the Placement and Program Support Officer. A physician note to address all absent days of practicum will be required.

Given the circumstances of our clinic/hospital, we require a Vulnerable Persons/Criminal Records Check. Will the students have one?

All students are required to complete and clear a vulnerable person/criminal records check for all practicum placements.

Students, as with all my employees, are bound by a strict code of confidentiality. Do they realize this imperative?

Students are expected to respect the privacy of patients/clients in all instances and maintain confidentiality with all information that they are privileged to collect and use during their practicum. Any breach of confidentiality will be reviewed and may result in a student’s dismissal from their practicum experience.

This workplace requires a dress code for all employees. Will this be a problem?

Students are responsible for following guidelines of acceptable conduct and attire while on practicum.  The student must have a neat appearance and good personal hygiene.  Business casual attire is acceptable for administrative professions in a practicum setting.

Is there a contract that I am required to sign?

Contracts provide clarification for both the employer and the student. A basic contract is required for both parties to sign. See Forms for Employers, specifically Practicum Placement Contract.