Virtual health promotion work–integrated learning placements: A COVID-19 consequence or preparation for the future?

Teagan Ostrognaj, Claire Bristow, Stavroula Zandes, Dragan Ilic, Bethany Howard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


We explored student and industry supervisors’ experiences of virtual work-integrated learning (vWIL) health promotion placements during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using a descriptive phenomenological qualitative methodology, we conducted semi-structured interviews with eight students and eight supervisors of undergraduate health promotion–related placements at community, not-for-profit and government organizations. We asked participants about the aspects of their placement they found most enjoyable and challenging, their preparation, workload, and thoughts on placement structure. We audio-recorded and had the interviews transcribed. Our thematic analyses revealed four key themes: (1) the impact of COVID-19 on work and study, (2) benefits of vWIL (real-world application and career clarification, transcending barriers and saving time, and feeling less intimidated), (3) challenges of vWIL (experiencing workplace culture, providing support and guidance to students, and relationship building), and (4) recommendations on the evolution of vWIL (increased preparation and consider a hybrid model). Our findings suggest that vWIL is a viable and sound mode of delivery for health promotion–related placements, particularly in situations that inhibit face-to-face learning. It has the capacity to enhance the work-readiness of health promotion graduates while adding flexibility to professional preparation workplace-based training programs, providing opportunity for capacity building locally across rural and remote areas, as well as globally. Future research should examine the effectiveness, practicality, and feasibility of implementing placements across different models including face-to-face, virtual and hybrid.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalHealth Promotion Practice
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jun 2023


  • COVID-19
  • health promotion
  • placement
  • professional preparation
  • qualitative
  • work readiness
  • work-integrated learning

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