Different types of clinical placement

Community-based placements allowed me to see how much social factors affect health and why, as future clinicians, we cannot ignore this element when treating our patients.
Sara Bequiri
Final year medical student

Examples of experiences you can expect to have during a clinical placement

The experience you can gain through clinical placements is hugely varied.

During hospital placements, you can expect to:

  • interact with a diverse group of patients on wards, taking histories and performing examinations
  • follow patients from admission through to discharge to gain a greater understanding of the patient's journey
  • lead in aspects of a ward round to develop your leadership skills, while appropriately supervised
  • carry out clinical procedures within the limits of your competence and under appropriate supervision
  • formulate management plans for patients
  • practice documenting in the patient records, while appropriately supervised
  • attend specialist clinics to gain a deeper understanding of medical conditions
  • learn from scheduled and opportunistic bedside teaching
  • shadow members of the multidisciplinary team including nurses, pharmacists, healthcare assistants physiotherapists, and physician associates
  • gain experience in out-of-hours clinical activities.

During general practice placements, you can expect to:

  • gain experience with multiple modes of communication such as face-to-face, telephone, and video consultations
  • follow patients with chronic illness or multimorbidity throughout their journey
  • run your own clinics under appropriate supervision and in accordance with your competence
  • be involved with writing referrals to secondary care
  • participate in clinical audits, peer teaching, and quality improvement projects
  • attend practice meetings.

During third sector or community setting placements, you can expect to:

  • gain experience in outreach work such as visits to community-based health facilities, hospices, homeless shelters, and care homes
  • gain an understanding of the social determinants of health and the importance of equality, diversity, and inclusion in healthcare systems.

For a more comprehensive list of the types of experience you may have, please see our Guidance on undergraduate clinical placements – Medical students should feel part of the team.


Before you start work as a foundation doctor, your medical school should organise for you to carry out a ‘student assistantship’.

Your medical school may call this period something different, such as ‘Preparing for practice’, but the aim of this is to prepare you for the reality of working as an F1 in a clinical environment.

You can find more information on what to expect in our guidance on clinical placements – Student assistantships.