Practice placements

You'll do three modules of practice placement in three work settings

Practice placements, or practice-based learning, encourages you to take the occupational therapy theory you've learned and apply it to real life situations. You will be supported by qualified occupational therapists, who are trained to assess and develop your practical skills. Your placements will be in different areas of practice, for example physical health and mental health settings with placements being primarily in the East Midlands.

During your placement you will be supported by a tutor from the practice placement team.

For more information on placements, please contact ot-placements@derby.ac.uk or Julie Bernstein at j.bernstein@derby.ac.uk.

Read some of the placement experiences from our recent graduates below:

Megan Cauldwell

"During my Occupational Therapy degree, I completed three separate practice placement modules. Before starting my placement, I was nervous and apprehensive to get started as I had no previous experience working within an Occupational Therapy Service. However, my placements soon became my favourite part of the degree. I loved working in practice, getting that hands-on experience and having the opportunities to apply the Occupational Therapy Theory I had learnt in the classroom to clinical practice.

All three of my placements were very different experiences but all positive. My first-year 10-week placement was in outpatient Rheumatology. My second-year 10-week placement was in an outpatient Assessment Service for Older People which also included community home visits. My final 12-week placement was in an all-male Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit and on an Autistic Spectrum Disorder / Mental Health Rehabilitation Ward. Across all three placements, I had the opportunity to work with a range of different service users, a variety of different assessments and occupationally focused interventions. I also had the opportunity to work within different multi-disciplinary teams and learn more about different professions.


My educators and placement visiting tutors were all incredibly supportive with the learning process and placement paperwork which needed completing. Overall, I would not change any of the placement experiences I had over the past three years as these have shaped me into the OT Student I am and have also helped me with my transitioning into a newly qualified Occupational Therapist position."

Megan smiling in her Occupational Therapy uniform

I loved working in practice, getting that hands-on experience and having the opportunities to apply the Occupational Therapy Theory I had learnt in the classroom to clinical practice.

Megan Cauldwell
BSc Occupational Therapy Student

Emily Hartland

"During my university course, I found that placement is the environment that you find your professional identity as a therapist. It helps shape your understanding of the profession, your values and beliefs. The idea of placement can often be an apprehensive one. However, once you are settled and understand your role in the multidisciplinary team, you can start to relate theory to practice.

My final placement was role emerging working with children that had complex medical needs and learning disabilities in a special education school. Throughout the twelve weeks, I followed the OT process through my placement which meant I carried out assessments, interventions and evaluations. Independently completing this meant my confidence and knowledge grew. Having several opportunities to gain further understandings through tutorials meant that I could expand my knowledge on the setting. This built my interest in the setting and encouraged me to research how to get into this area of work.

I always found it helpful to keep in contact with my practice placement tutor to ask any questions and partake in discussions on how my experience relates to theory. Being honest with my educator meant that I was able to say when I was not confident or feel ready to complete certain activities. My educators always helped me through this meaning I was able to complete them correctly and confidently later in the placement."

Emily standing in her Occupational Therapy uniform

During my university course, I found that placement is the environment that you find your professional identity as a therapist. It helps shape your understanding of the profession, your values and beliefs.

Emily Hartland
BSc Occupational Therapy Student

Rhiannon Ashbourne

"Throughout the last three years, I have experienced a range of clinical areas which have widened my scope of practice and skills. I was super nervous for my first clinical placement as I didn’t know what to expect, however when I got there my nerves were put aside, your educator has been in your shoes and knows how you will be feeling. The university ensures that each placement has completed a clinical audit which ensures the placement is of high quality and to university standards.
My first placement was in specialist medicine, this area was very fast-paced however it allowed me to use my core Occupational Therapy skills such as completing a lot of initial assessments and ensuring they are completed accurately to facilitate a safe discharge, which you will practice in one of the first year modules with fellow peers to prepare you which I found really helpful.

My second-year placement was in mental health rehabilitation this area was a lot slower paced. However, I liked that aspect as I got a lot of time with clients which allowed me to build a good therapeutic relationship. This also allowed me time to develop in other areas such as creating other opportunities in the service. My educators were amazing and encouraged me to take charge and believe in myself. This is the area that I would like to specialise in when qualified due to such an amazing experience, I loved every minute.

My third-year placement was completely different and an area I was apprehensive about as it was role emerging meaning there was not an Occupational Therapist on site. The area was working with individuals with special needs in a high school and was focussed on sensory integration and how this can impact the child’s ability to complete tasks in school, such as school work and play. This placement opened up more opportunities that I didn’t think were out there. I worked independently a lot on this placement which allowed me to develop my independent practitioner skills and confidence to follow my own initiative.

Each placement will be different with each having its own set of challenges, you may even find your niche! however, as OT’s we can use our skills in a variety of fields which is why OT is so great! No day is the same."

Rhiannon, Occupational Therapy student, smiling at camera in car

Each placement will be different with each having its own set of challenges, you may even find your niche! however, as OT’s we can use our skills in a variety of fields which is why OT is so great! No day is the same.

Rhiannon Ashbourne
BSc Occupational Therapy Student