Challenges for social and health assistent students, in internship periods

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Lasse Grønborg Christensen
  • Katharina Hoff Schønack Trendholm
4. term, Learning and Innovative Change, Master (Master Programme)
There is a tendency where the need for social and healthcare personnel increases. This creates a problem when around 14% of Social and health assistant students (SSA) are dropping out, within the three first months. From this, we found relevance in examining the following problem statement:

What challenges do students in social and health assistent meet in the preliminary period in their internship, and how can these challenges be met, so that the students are better maintained?

As part of answering the problem formulation, the study found its starting point within social constructivism as the scientific theoretical approach. Furthermore, we used a case study design, with research centered on a municipality in northern Jutland. Finally, we had a methodological approach consisting of single person and focus group interviews, as well as document analysis. In the description of empirical findings, we embraced three different theoretical perspectives. The first being Schöns theory of reflection in and over action, which deals with how people reflect in actions, on what they are about to do. From here, they reflect over action, which carries further reflections on the result of previous actions and what to do better in similar situations. As an addition to Schöns theory, we used Weicks theory on sensemaking. This revolves around how people try to create meaning within encounters with expected and unexpected events or situations. Finally, we used a theory on organizational socialization, as interpreted by Van Maanen og Schein. The theory describes a process, where new coworkers receive knowledge and skills necessary to navigate in a new organizational culture.

In the analysis, we deduced that SSA-students met a challenge in the preliminary period, when being introduced to the internship before the first day of work, through an introductory letter. This presented challenges, as the SSA-students experienced it as being unpersonal and incomprehensible, accompanied by a lack of information, from where they could build an opinion about the internship. Another challenge met by the SSA-students was found within the first day being interpreted as trivial and different from internship to internship. As a result, they experienced the need to be willing to adapt, every time they were introduced to a new internship. Additionally, the SSA-students experienced that the municipality expected them to connect theory and practice by engaging in the daily operations and reflect hereon. This was followed by an expectation from the municipality, that the SSA-students was responsible for their own learning, by engaging in written assignments such as homework. This was a challenge as the SSA-students on several occasions were counted as being 100% part of the staff specification within the internships, which is why they had an experience as being more like workforce than students. It is furthermore possible that the SSA-students was unable to have a study life coexisting with their private life, as well as reaching the study related goals of the internship, which in turn could be seen as the cause for switching to the SSH-education.

Based on above, we provided several suggestions as to how these challenges could be met and thereby better maintain the SSA-students. We had the following four suggestions:

1. To conduct an introductory session before the first day of work. The argument behind this, was to give the SSA-students an opportunity to create an opinion from more aspects and information, than what was provided in the introductory letter, which would also be explained in more detail during the session.

2. Allowing the SSA-students to execute actual work tasks on their first day of work. This would provide the SSA-students a sped up opportunity to socialize in the organization and experience the first day as less indifferent.

3. There should be more homogeneity to and within the first day of work. This is to let the SSA-students retrospectively shape their opinion about the introduction, as the homogeneity would provide the chance to create opinions on other upcoming internships and periods.

4. To fulfill the expectations in practice, in order to meet the challenge of the SSA-students experiencing that they are more like a workforce and in charge of their own learning. This would be achieved by framing learning, so that the SSA-students will be seen as students instead of workforce, which in turn will provide more time for learning
Publication date1 Jun 2019
Number of pages123
ID: 304886126