An evaluation of the role of the Clinical Placement Coordinator in student nurse support in the clinical area


Jonathan Drennan, School of Nursing and Midwifery, University College Dublin, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2, Ireland. E-mail:


Purpose of the study.  The purpose of this study was to evaluate the role of the Clinical Placement Coordinator (CPC) and the continued development of the role in the context of the provision of student support in the clinical area.

Background.  Following the introduction of the Registration/Diploma in Nursing Studies programme in the Republic of Ireland in 1994 the post of CPC was created to support student nurses in the clinical area. The CPC is an experienced nurse who provides dedicated support to student nurses in a variety of clinical settings however, unlike the role of mentor/preceptor they do not have a client/patient caseload. To date no major evaluation of the post has taken place. Therefore the Department of Health and Children commissioned a national evaluation of the post of which part of the findings are reported in this paper.

Methodology.  A two-stage study is described utilizing a mixed-methods approach. Data collection included individual and focus group interviews and questionnaires. Interviews were analysed using thematic content analysis and data collected from questionnaires were analysed utilizing descriptive and inferential statistics.

Findings.  An analysis of the data identified the responsibilities and functions of CPC were multivariate, however, core elements of the role were evident. The core elements were identified as student support and practice development. The central and most frequent finding from the data collected was the individual support students received from CPCs throughout their clinical placement.

Conclusion.  The role of CPC was evaluated as a positive addition to the realm of student support and the clinical team. The positioning of the post in the clinical area also adds the dimension of a CPC being a link between student nurses and the various groups that provide student support, this is essential in light of the changing role of the nurse tutor following the full integration of preregistration nurse education into the third-level sector and the development of a formal preceptorship role for clinical nurses in the Republic of Ireland.