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Students completing clinical placements or assessments during COVID-19


Policy: Students completing training placements or face-to-face training assessments during COVID-19 Alert Levels 1 – 4


This policy applies to students from all health professions who are completing training placements or undergoing face-to-face training assessments in any setting (ie, DHB or non-DHB) while nation-wide or regional COVID-19 Alert Level restrictions are operating.

Current restrictions impacting health and disability services can be viewed here: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus


Assessment means examination of a student’s knowledge or proficiency.

Placement includes any placement in a setting where healthcare or related services are provided to patients or the public.

Student includes all students who have not completed all requirements for professional qualification and – only if applicable – registration as a health practitioner under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003. Student includes assessment candidates.

Policy statement – Placements

1. Although the importance of academic progression, economic consequences, and impacts on the health workforce pipeline should all be considered, the first priority guiding placement decisions is that all reasonable efforts must be made to ensure that students and patients are kept safe.

2. Students undertaking a placement as part of completing their academic programme may start or continue in that placement only in accordance with any current Alert Level restrictions and/or conditions that apply to the setting where the student is placed. It is for the training institution and the placement provider to ensure that each student’s placement(s) meet this requirement at all times.

3. It is understood that students might be asked to provide clinical care in Health Care Assistant (or similar) roles when, due to Alert Level requirements, they are not able to carry on in their assigned training placement. Any such service must be voluntary and it is for training institutions and Responsible Authorities to determine if that service will be recognised as clinical experience toward the student’s qualification.

4. Students must inform their supervisor(s) and supervisors must ask students about employment, placement, or any attendance at other settings where COVID-19 Alert Level restrictions are operating. Movement between health or disability settings should only occur if carefully managed and where approved by the relevant organisation(s).

5. All students on placements must have appropriate supervision (as determined by the training institution and placement provider) to help mitigate the enhanced risks inherent in working in the COVID-19 environment. It should be noted that supervisors must prioritise providing services to patients over providing supervision. This may require that the student(s) involved cease working with patients until appropriate supervision can be resumed, and should be clearly communicated by the supervisor to the student(s).

6. Students may decide that they do not want to practise during this time and should not be penalised for that decision. Students should realise, however, that an extended absence from their training programme may delay completion of their training.

Policy statement – Face-to-Face Training Assessments

Alert Level 4: Face-to-face assessments are not possible at Alert Level 4.

Alert Levels 2&3: Face-to-face assessments may be conducted at Alert Levels 2 or 3, but only if all current public health guidelines for the relevant level are met. Please note that:

  •  the movement of candidates and examiners into or out of a geographic region in Alert Level 3 may be restricted, and it is highly unlikely that travel exemptions would be granted
  • the number of persons present at an assessment event will be limited under the Alert Level operating at the time, and physical distancing requirements will apply.

Alert Level 1: Face-to-face assessments can proceed if all public health guidelines for the level are met.


This policy will be reviewed and revised as and when necessary.


In order to minimise the spread of COVID-19, serious restrictions on workers and workplaces may be put in place. Some health and disability services will, however, be expected to remain up and running. Employers must continue to meet their health and safety obligations in these circumstances.

These same restrictions and responsibilities apply to students and to those who are responsible for them.

The Ministry recognises and acknowledges that other organisations also have authority and responsibilities in regard to students;

  • Training institutions have the ultimate responsibility for their students’ welfare.
  • Placement providers determine whether or not they continue to provide placements to students.
  • Responsible Authorities make decisions regarding accreditation of training programmes, registration (where required), and practising status (including conditions on scopes of practice).

Placements can therefore be altered or discontinued (directly or indirectly) by these other organisations, even where a student’s placement is in a service that continues to operate.

Version: 20/08/21