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Providing the Evidence Base for Undergraduate Elective Placements in Health care: An Action-Research Study

Louise Ackers, Gill Colgan, Rose McCarthy, James Ackers-Johnson and Jane Muhindo

To pilot and evaluate elective placements in low resource settings for undergraduate students in nursing, midwifery and allied health professions.

The pilot will involve 80 students in over an 18 month period. During the pilot stage the placements will be extra-curricular. 

The aims of the Pilot will be to:

  • test logistics and scalability 

  • identify core learning outcomes and aligning these with the core values and behaviours 
specified in the NHS constitution 

  • compare these to current outcomes associated with home placements 

  • assess the impact on the low resource setting to ensure an ethical and sustainable 
approach 

  • undertake a cost-benefit analysis of the intervention (including comparative assessment of 
other models) 

  • propose a model to embed placements in low resource settings within undergraduate 
curriculum. 


The University of Salford has received support for this scheme from Health Education North West (HENW) through the ‘Global Health Exchange’ program. The University is also providing support for project management and evaluation (through the recruitment of a dedicated doctoral researcher Ms Natalie Tate).

The budget for the project is held in an account within the University and will be managed according to the University’s financial governance procedures. 

The pilot includes two phases:

1. Phase 1 - In order to expose the widest possible disciplinary groups; control other variables; operationalise the project as efficiently and safely as possible the first cohort of placements will be drawn from the population of Salford undergraduates and will be placed in Fort Portal, Uganda in 3 placements taking place in June/July, August and September 2015.

2.  Phase 2 - The second cohort will be placed in India in November 2015 and January 2016. We will also organise a second cohort of Ugandan placements from October 2015. Phase 2 (November 2015 – April 2016) will open applications to students across the North West of England.

The study is designed to capture the learning outcomes associated with elective placements for undergraduate students in health-related professions and identify placement structures to optimise those outcomes. As such we do not wish to pre-empt the findings. However on the basis of our previous experiences, both on–the–ground and through research review, we would anticipate (and have planned to promote) the following generic learning outcomes:

  • Inter-cultural learning and Communication skills
  • Managing resources in low income settings
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Multi-disciplinary and international team working skills
  • Time management skills
  • Project design and dissemination (presentational) skills
  • Leadership
  • Development of personal resilience 

Formal reporting will be complemented by active dissemination in the UK, Uganda and India to ensure optimal exposure to the study and its findings.

Dissemination will include the use of Film (supported by Salford post-doctoral researcher Dr John Chatwin).

In June 2015 during the first placements we have organised a Public Seminar on health worker motivation and volunteering and a local celebration event ( for local people and health workers).

Read the Uganda report

For more information please contact James Ackers-Johnson on J.Ackers@salford.ac.uk