Practice Learning Support Unit (PLSU)


The Practice Learning Support Unit (PLSU) is responsible for ensuring both the quantity and quality of student clinical placements for all commissioned health professions to create a student workforce fit for future practice.

Our practice learning facilitators support practice learning by working alongside educators and students across all divisions to provide a high level of support to enhance the practice learning experience.

Who are PLSU?

The PLSU at UHDB is an interprofessional team of practice learning facilitators (PLF’s) who support nursing, midwifery and allied health professional educators and students during their practice placements.

We are all qualified professionals with experience as practice educators/mentors. Our role is to ensure that all students have a high quality placement experience and we work closely with a large number of universities to ensure students receive the best clinical training and learning opportunities. We coordinate placements from local and UK-wide universities and also support international students.

If a student or their educator have any difficulties during their placement, we are there to provide additional support and will work alongside staff to overcome any challenges they may be facing. We also provide additional training to educators and students such as peer support forums, training sessions for educators on common student needs or updates on university programmes.

Preceptorship and support for newly qualified professionals

Preceptorship is for newly qualified staff entering the trust, staff that are returning to practice, or for staff that may be transitioning from one part of the register to another (i.e. nursing associate to registered nurse).

It is available for all nurses, midwives, allied health professionals and healthcare scientists across our hospital sites.

Find out more about our preceptorship programme >

For further careers information please email:

Returning to practice

If you have previously been a registered health professional and wish to return to your profession, then you may need to complete a return-to-practice programme.

There are vacancies waiting for returnees in both health and social care roles, and Health Education England (HEE) may be able to offer financial and academic support to health professionals wishing to undertake a return to practice scheme.

Find out more about returning to practice >

A day in the life of an AHP practice learning facilitator

On a typical day, I start by logging onto the computer to check on any emails we may have received. We regularly liaise with our local universities and educators to coordinate many AHP practice placements and so receive may enquiries about the placements.

At 9am I then set off to meet an Occupational Therapist who has been qualified two years and would like to become a practice placement educator. We talk about courses available and what the role of an educator entails and how I can support her with her first student whilst she becomes familiar with the relevant assessments and paperwork.

I then go for a walk around to visit some of the students on placement with us to see how they are getting on. I meet some radiography students who tell me they are settling into their placement well and are really enjoying seeing lots of patients and putting the skills they have learnt at university into practice.

Before lunch, we hold a Physiotherapy student forum. This is an opportunity for all the physiotherapy students on placement to get together to share their learning and offer peer support. Two students discover they are both seeing similar patients in different departments so decide to arrange to visit each other to learn more about the other clinical setting and about the patient journey through their services. All the students discuss managing their placement assessments and some of the more experienced students give the others some useful tips on how to evidence their learning and reflection.

In the afternoon I visit a local university for a meeting review our placement offers for the next academic year where we ensure that we have a good range of placements to accommodate all of the students. We also update each other on recent projects and our student’s evaluations of their placements. We regularly work with our university partners to make sure that the placements we offer meet the varied needs of all our students and that they receive the best possible learning experience in the clinical setting.

A day in PLSU is often busy and varied and often brings new opportunities and challenges. As a team, we are passionate about our professions and about education. We strive to ensure that all our students leave us with new knowledge, skills, and experiences to enhance their development into confident and accomplished healthcare professionals. We support all learners, which not only include students on university programmes, but newly qualified staff through Preceptorship, Return to Practice and Apprenticeships.

Why I became a practice learning facilitator

"I qualified initially as an occupational therapist, a profession I was drawn too because occupational therapy is a treatment with an enormous wing span and helped people with the tasks that occupy their everyday lives.

I soon developed an interest in healthcare education from having my first student and taking on a teaching post at my local University. It was humbling to be part of the student’s journey, to help them grow in confidence and skills and enjoyed how sharing my knowledge with them enabled them to progress to become a healthcare professional. I was attracted to my current role as I am passionate about the quality and delivery of student education and care about the learning experience students have when they come to our hospital for their practical part of their experience. I enjoy how my role provides me with the opportunity to support both students and their supervisors and brings me into contact with many AHP managers, universities and professionals."

Natalie Matchett – AHP Practice Learning Facilitator, UHDB