A third year student, currently studying BSc Healthcare Science (Audiology), Swansea University
Tell us about yourself
My name is Dhivyah Kuganeethan, and I am currently a third-year student at Swansea University studying Audiology. For my whole life I have lived in London, but I have always dreamt about living near the seaside just like my father did back in Sri Lanka, where I originally come from. This is the main reason why I chose to study at Swansea University.
During my time studying for A-Levels at school, my original plan was to do a further study in Philosophy, as I was already studying this as one of my subjects. However, by the second year of my A-Levels, I wanted to find a course and a career path that would be more challenging, but also one that involved helping other people. This is when I decided to check the NHS website and came across Audiology. I love listening to music in my spare time, as well as going on walks and listening to the sounds of the birds and nature. This made me realise how important sound is for my mental and physical being. Having a hearing loss can affect the quality of someone’s life day-to-day, and even during conversations with your loved ones. This made me choose Audiology as my career path, as I would like to help those people with hearing difficulties. Soon, I began looking into University courses for Audiology in the UK, and saw the amazing placement opportunities these courses offered.
What is your experience of Clinical Placement?
During my first year at University, at a very uncertain time amidst the Pandemic lockdown, I went to my first ever placement at Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend, South Wales. This was quite challenging for me because I was not used to living in a quiet area compared to London where I was brought up. I remember feeling nervous just before going, because I feared feeling isolated during the lockdown in a completely new place I had never been to!
What were the positive aspects of your experience?
As soon as I went into the hospital on my first day, I was immediately welcomed by my clinical mentors, and they helped me settle in. There are so many positives about going to placement. You get the chance to incorporate your learning from lectures into real-life clinical practice with patients. This helps to improve your communication skills, clinical skills and dealing with challenging patients. At the beginning of year 1 placement, for most of the time I was observing my mentors in the Audiology department, from which I learnt how to talk to patients, instruct them for different procedures such as hearing tests, and performing the procedures themselves.
By week 2 of placement, I was encouraged by my mentors to have a go myself, starting off with small steps like obtaining the patient ID, performing otoscopy and then building up to carrying out hearing assessments.
What were the other challenges?
The longer placement blocks can sometimes last up to three months. This requires a large commitment, as well as a positive mindset, which can sometimes be difficult to maintain with the pressure from gathering enough evidence before portfolio deadlines. Being on top of your work is also important, for which we get study days during placement blocks to write up our portfolios. At times, I also felt homesick, especially in my first year, but my mentors and supervisors helped me a lot, and we would have helpful chats during our break.
In second year, I missed quite a lot of placement time due to contracting COVID and I fell behind my course mates. I went into my last placement block over the summer feeling worried about getting my portfolio completed on time. I remember at one time I felt low and approached my clinical educator for some advice. She was always reassuring me that I could always go to her to discuss anything on my mind, so I never felt hesitant to approach her. We sat down together and brainstormed a plan to complete my portfolio on time. At the end of my placement, I managed to get my portfolio completed for the academic year, with the appropriate evidence in place.
Do you have any tips for Clinical Placement?
Having a good relationship with your mentors and supervisors is important. Designating time to catch up with them often, about how I was getting on and what aspects of clinical skills I wanted to improve upon, helped me make the most out of my placement time.
Year 2 required me to be more independent with my learning at placement, and the support I received from my various clinical educators helped me immensely. Not only that, but some of my supervisors at the hospital had recently graduated themselves. They were helpful and supportive, and by having gone through the process of placement and University themselves recently, they were able to understand how difficult placement can be. On occasions, I would talk to them about my University experience, and they would give me advice. They would always be happy to help me when the senior audiologists were busy.
Did you feel supported from the University?
During my time on placement I was never alone. University always offered support, through academic mentors who were always available to talk, regular meetings, and plenty of catch ups with clinical skills. Before going to placement, students are booked in for various practical sessions, practicing skills and getting the chance to ask lecturer’s questions. This allows us to gain confidence before going to placement. We learn all about best practice guidelines and are provided with resources available to refer to. We often go through these together and are provided with the opportunities to ask questions if we are unsure of anything.
What are you looking forward to in Year 3?
I am excited to start my third year of university and I am looking forward to putting the skills I have learnt in the past two years into practice in my upcoming placement for the academic year.