Calculating the Cost

How much does your organization spend on Clinical Placement?

While clinical placements are critical to both the academic and healthcare environments, it is not without a cost. Clinical placement of students is usually assigned to a specific person or group of individuals along with other responsibilities.  Whether in the healthcare organization or the academic environment, other responsibilities and job activities usually create competing demands for time, effort, and data management.  If you could streamline the clinical placement process, what could you do with the extra time in your work week?  How much is this time worth in dollars?  How much is this time worth in meeting your organizational and professional goals? What if technology could be utilized to streamline the process?  What would its cost be worth?

Determining clinical placement cost is a first step in answering these questions!

While it can be difficult to capture the actual cost of clinical placement since related tasks are accomplished by multitasking between several projects in a given day or week. But following the calculations can provide you with a starting point for comparing the current cost compared to using technology to assist with the process.

Clinical Placement: On the average, how much time is spent negotiating clinical placements? This includes making or receiving phone calls and emails, discussions with other team members about the placements, and finalizing the dates, time on the unit, collecting needed student documentation, and communication with patient care areas related to when and who to expect.. While this will vary from place to place and even between individuals, the time is nonetheless spent.

Our partners have reported that prior to implementing online placement management, they were spending an average of 8-10 hours over a 16 day time span to set up placements with an individual school or facility. This did not include clinical affiliation agreement negotiation.

Orientation: On the average, how much time is spent in the development of orientation content for students, preparing handouts, in face-to-face classroom time, one-on-one orientations, instructor orientations to a facility, managing paperwork to document orientation completion, and so on … As a facility, if The Joint Commission or the State Surveyors came in today, could you provide documentation that ALL students in your organization had an orientation that covered the required topics? How much time would it take to compile this information?

Our partners have reported spending anywhere from 10-20 hours in preparation and presentation of orientation content a month prior to implementing an online orientation.

clinical placement cost

What does it really cost?

As an example … lets calculate the cost using some baseline salary numbers. Substitute your salary figures to calculate the cost for your organization.

Hourly rate of educator/faculty = $25 + 35% (for benefits (holiday, vacation, sick pay, state unemployment insurance and social security withholdings, etc.) brings the hourly rate to ~$34/hour

Hourly rate of administrative support = $15 +35% is ~$17/hour

Sample calculations for the cost of placement management:

Using 8 hours as a starting point, let’s assign 7 hours to the educator/faculty and 1 hour for support services.  If you have no administrative support for these tasks, assign the full 8 hours at the educator/faculty rate.

(8 x $34) + $17 = $289 for each placement. If you simultaneously handled several placements with the same organization, this could reduce the time/placement by several hours.

Sample calculations for the cost of orientation:

Using 15 hours as a mid-point, let’s assign 13 hours of the facility educators time and 2 hours for support services.

(13 x $34) +( 2 x $17) = $476 for each orientation. If a hospital educator averages only 1 session per month, this is over $5700 each year spent on student orientation.

If faculty are providing this content for their students in addition to the course content, facilities must still orient the faculty and provide them with the material to present. Again, this takes the facility educator’s time, and the faculty’s time to prepare for the student presentation and any subsequent validation of content mastery. While this approach may decrease the overall cost to the facility, the actual “cost” may actually increase when considering the impact on the facility, school, and student.

The hourly cost of the faculty time per orientation may be similar or the actual time even increased as faculty may need additional preparation time. Delegating the orientation of students to the school faculty also often takes classroom time from the student and hence time away from the course content related to patient care delivery.

A final consideration in determining the cost of clinical placement is the outcome cost of the projects that cannot be completed or must be delayed because of multiple student orientations.  While an actual dollar amount may be difficult to assign, consideration of these delays is important to be considered.

  • Education or Staff Development departments within clinical facilities are usually a lean operation without the luxury of assigning a partial or single FTE only to student orientations. The ability to meet the ongoing educational needs of the staff can present a huge challenge when educators spend many hours on clinical placement and student onboarding. What additional organizational or clinical outcomes could be addressed if clinical placement used online tools to streamline the process?
  • Faculty may or may not have release time to perform clinical placement activities. While release time can be an option for larger schools, smaller schools frequently do not have this ability to take faculty from the classroom or clinical setting to substitute time to perform clinical placement activities.  What additional school, student, or clinical outcomes could be addressed if clinical placement used online tools to streamline the process?

So how much is clinical placement and student onboarding costing your organization? What would be the ROI for using TCPS tools?

Once you have determined the cost of student onboarding in YOUR organization, Contact Us to discuss how TCPS’s Clinical Placement Tools could be used to streamline your process!