How Schools Can Automate Externship Attendance

How Schools Can Automate Externship Attendance

Nearly every course session starts with attendance. It’s a hallmark of education and one of the most important actions during the learning period. But can you imagine attendance being conducted without an instructor or supervisor present?

It may sound unusual, but many students, particularly those preparing for careers in healthcare, complete some of the most critical hours of their education without a supervisor there to make sure they sign in. 

Practical Hours Out Of The Classroom

Healthcare fields, like nursing and Allied Health programs, typically require students to complete practical hours at off-site locations as the final step of their coursework.

Externship sites are generally health centers in the local and surrounding communities, not operated by the school, meaning there often isn’t an instructor present responsible for tracking student time and attendance. Instead, there are preceptors employed by the site whose primary responsibilities are to help students practice new skills, facilitate comprehension of health and science knowledge, and orient students in a clinical work environment.

Headaches From Current Externship Attendance Tracking

Making sure students’ reported hours are accurate is extremely important, both to ensure students are completing their required hands on learning and to ensure the data the school reports to accreditors and federal agencies is correct.

School staff undergo extensive back and forth communication with site preceptors to verify the accuracy of reported student hours. Continuous emailing and phone-calling to verify student hours can be irritating and time consuming for both parties. This back and forth can be detrimental, especially when externship coordinators are responsible for maintaining good relationships with externship sites.

Luckily, modern software allows schools to manage student time and attendance by having students check themselves in and out of their externship shifts.

Taking Advantage Of Modern Tech

Every mobile device these days has GPS capabilities, making services such as ride-sharing and mapping possible. In the case of attendance management, location-based attendance software utilizes students’ phones to verify the devices — and therefore, the students themselves — are within a pre-set geofence. These solutions typically have an administrative portal where school staff can set geofences as well as access attendance records in real-time.

Increasing Efficiency

By having access to attendance data immediately instead of waiting weeks or months for timesheets to come from the sites, school staff can effectively monitor which students are on track to meet their hours requirements and which students are potentially going to miss them. This timely knowledge of student progression gives schools a clearer picture when calculating financial aid and can help schools intervene with students who are falling behind on their hours. 

At the same time, having access to data in real-time enables schools to minimize the tedious, time-consuming, and sometimes frustrating process of back and forth communication with site staff. This allows both parties to focus on other tasks they’re responsible for while knowing that students’ time is being recorded accurately. 

Overview Across Multiple Locations

Top of the line attendance management platforms enable schools to set multiple geofences to allow students to complete hours at multiple sites. For schools with students completing hours at multiple locations, school staff can access an overview of all partner sites and see where a student is currently working and how long they’ve been there. 

If a student has multiple sites for their externship, when it’s time to check in they simply choose the appropriate site in the app and once their location is verified, start accruing hours. Before GPS attendance, schools with students accruing hours at multiple locations didn’t know on a given day where their students were. With GPS attendance, however, they can see which students have checked in to which sites in real-time. 

Preparing For Career Expectations

By making students responsible for checking themselves in and out of off-site locations, they’ll begin developing habits that will translate seamlessly into how their time will be recorded during their careers. Many health organizations require their employees to clock in and out of their jobs, meaning that students using mobile attendance management platforms to record their time will be familiar with the process when they enter the workforce.

Staffless Attendance Tracking

Thanks to modern attendance solutions, schools can conduct attendance and monitor students’ externship hours without site staff having to take on the responsibility. This streamlined process of managing attendance takes the headache out of tracking student time for school staff and off-site operators while preparing students for their careers.

To learn more about how mobile attendance solutions can help your organization manage student time, book a personalized walkthrough of the CourseKey attendance platform below.

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