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Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence

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Paper presented at Social Care Ireland Conference in April 2016

Recognising the Complexity of the Transition to Practice: Social Care Students’ View of Anticipations and Preparedness


A successful transition from being a student to a qualified practitioner is “fundamental to becoming a competent practitioner” (Seah, Mackenzie and Gamble, 2011, p.104). While Billett (2009) argues that students who complete placements or internships as part of their programme of professional education make a more successful transition to the workplace, research on the transition process with different professional groups suggest that differences between the two contexts exist, which can act as barriers to transitioning successfully. In addition professions where practitioners work to make a difference to the lives of other people have an inherent potential for stress. This stress is intensified during the transition period (Kearns and McArdle, 2007) suggesting the need for research on the experiences of students in transition to practice for the purpose of developing appropriate supports. This paper focuses on the anticipations and preparedness for practice of a group of 17 final year social care students. This is the first stage of a two stage study examining the experiences of transitioning to practice in the field of social care. Data was collected using individual semi-structured interviews and analysed using thematic analysis. Findings reveal that while students were excited about practising without the restrictions of being a student they were also nervous about their perceived level of responsibility as a practitioner. Fears about complacency and burnout were also found. Students' evaluation of their readiness to practice was conditional, based on their judgement of their own skills and attributes as well as the demands of different areas of practice.



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