What’s expected of you during your clinical placement

Your first placement can seem daunting, especially when performing clinical skills for the first time. Patients are often very understanding that you are learning and are happy to help with your medical education – just always be honest and ask for help when you need to.
Elisa Smith
4th year medical student

Patient safety and patients’ rights

Patient safety is core to Good medical practice and it should be your priority while you're on a placement.

It's important you understand how to raise patient safety concerns. Raising and acting on concerns about patient safety provides guidance on the steps to take. You should also follow local guidelines provided by your medical school or placement provider. 

Always be honest with patients about your level of experience and capabilities, and ask for support and guidance, when necessary.

Remember that patient confidentiality is crucial to patient care, so you have a responsibility to protect it. 


Attendance and punctuality are important. You should let the clinical team know if you are unable to attend or are running late.

It’s important to dress presentably and follow infection prevention and control guidelines.

Take care when using social media. In order to maintain professional boundaries, you can alter your privacy settings on social media. You must make sure that you do not share any potentially identifiable information about patients online to protect their confidentiality. You can check our guidance on social media use and our ethical hub topic about social media for more advice. 

For more information on what behaviours are expected of you as a medical student during clinical placement, read Achieving good medical practice.

Become part of the team

Get involved with the multidisciplinary team. You'll gain valuable experience in understanding the key role of each discipline and how this contributes to providing the patient with the best possible care.

Be a team player! Greet the team at the start of each day and introduce yourself.

Show courtesy and respect to colleagues, patients, and visitors.

Learning and experience

You’re responsible for your own learning, both theory, and practical skills. If you’ve not carried out a practical skill or procedure before, it's best to observe first and ask for assistance.

Our Practical skills and procedures guidance outlines what you should be able to do by the time you graduate. 

Seize every opportunity to learn and take part in clinical activities as this will best prepare you for your future role as a foundation doctor.

Experiential learning in clinical placements is key. If you find there are fewer clinical activities available, it’s important to look for other learning opportunities such as self-study, lectures, and webinars.