Fit testing for clinical placement | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Fit testing for clinical placement

If you are preparing for (or currently attending) placement in a clinical setting, please carefully read the following FAQs to ensure you meet fit testing requirements.

What is fit testing?

Respirator fit testing is a validated method to determine whether a specific make, model and size of respirator achieves an adequate seal on an individual's face. If the respirator does not fit properly, the wearer will not get the expected level of protection.

USC requires quantitative fit testing to ensure the effectiveness of the required seal.

Is respirator fit testing required for placement?

It is a requirement that all students undertaking a placement within a clinical setting be fit tested annually.

If this requirement applies to your placement, it will appear in your mandatory checks on Sonia Online.

What evidence does a health facility require?

USC is required to maintain evidence of your fit test results in Sonia and provide these to a health facility prior to you commencing placement.

Uploading evidence of your fit test to Sonia

Upon completion of your fit test, you will receive a test result card which is valid for 12 months. A copy of this card will need to be uploaded to Sonia. If you have not uploaded your evidence into Sonia before your placement commences, your placement will be cancelled.

Taking your fit test card to placement

You must also take your fit test result card with you to your placement each day.

What if a health facility is unable to provide a respirator for which I am fitted?

Due to the impacts of COVID-19, some health facilities are currently experiencing shortages of respirators and other PPE.

In order to maintain your safety, while on placement shifts you must only wear a respirator for which you have been fit tested. If a health facility is unable to provide you with an approved fit tested respirator, you will be unable to attend your allocated placement shifts until one is available.

This may impact your progression while clinical placements are subject to current Queensland Government directions.

For students undertaking placement in a residential aged care setting (outside of a hospital service)

In residential aged care settings, you are required to wear PPE in line with the individual facility’s requirements. This may not include wearing a fit tested respirator for the full duration of your placement shift.

Can I provide my own supply of respirators to attend placement?

Generally, students are not permitted to provide their own respirators.

For students undertaking the Midwifery CONNECT program

Due to the unscheduled nature of CONNECT activities, in certain circumstances you may be able to provide your own respirator. This will be determined by the health facility you are entering.

How do I book a fit test?

To book your fit test: 

  1. Go to Online Payments and pay the $65 fee
  2. Log into Student Hub – you will need your receipt number confirming payment
  3. Visit “Learning”
  4. Book appointment under "Mask Fit Testing"
  5. Complete the booking process for the appointment based on your discipline
  6. Read the appointment instructions in your confirmation email
What do I need to do in order to be ready for a fit test?

You must be clean shaven for your fit test. Facial hair that lies along the sealing surface of a tight-fitting respirator prevents an effective seal. Therefore, it is a requirement that there is no hair growth between the skin and the facepiece sealing surface in order to achieve a fit.

AS/NZS 1715:2009 provides guidance in relation to beards, moustaches, sideburns, stubble growth and long hair. (See also the CDC guide on Facial Hairstyles and Filtering Facepiece Respirators.) Other factors that may interfere with facial seal include jewellery, facial makeup and creams.

For more information, view I have a beard and/or facial hair. Will this impact my fit test?

I have a beard and/or facial hair. Will this impact my fit test?

You must be clean shaven for your fit test. Facial hair that lies along the sealing surface of a tight-fitting respirator prevents an effective seal. Therefore, it is a requirement that there is no hair growth between the skin and the facepiece sealing surface in order to achieve a fit.

AS/NZS 1715:2009 provides guidance in relation to beards, moustaches, sideburns, stubble growth and long hair. (See also the CDC guide on Facial Hairstyles and Filtering Facepiece Respirators.) Other factors that may interfere with facial seal include jewellery, facial makeup and creams.

Where a student is unable to be clean shaven, a fit test cannot be performed.

Students will need to ensure they are clean shaven for every clinical placement shift.

At this stage, Queensland Health does not allow for exemptions to this requirement for religious or other reasons. Should you decide not to undertake fit testing at this time, you may be required to unenroll from your clinical placement course. We recommend you book an appointment with a USC Program Adviser to discuss your options and program progression.

How much does it cost to be fit tested?

Quantitative fit testing must be provided by a certified fit tester, and costs can vary depending on which provider conducts your test. The cost of your annual fit test (when organised through USC) is currently $65, paid by each student directly to the fit test provider.

If you are experiencing financial hardship and this cost is prohibitive, you may be eligible to receive a grant to cover the cost of the test. If this applies to you, please contact Student Wellbeing at studentwellbeing@usc.edu.au or book a consultation via Student Hub.

You can source your own fit testing from an alternative organisation; however, you must be fitted to an approved respirator and the fit test must be conducted by a certifier fit tester. Failure to do this would result in you needing to repeat the fit test process at your own cost.

Your fit test is valid for 12 months.

Given the current impacts of COVID-19, restricted supplies of PPE may mean that a health facility requires you to undertake additional fit testing within this 12-month period. If this occurs, USC will cover the cost of the additional fit testing.

What if I have already been fit tested for work?

If you have been have been quantitatively fit tested by a certified fit tester for a respirator that is available for student clinical placements in the health facility you are attending, you will be able to proceed to placement. You must upload evidence of your fit test result into Sonia and have it cleared by USC prior to your placement commencing.

What if my fit test expires during a placement period?

You must always have a valid fit test card. If your fit test is due to expire during your placement, you must ensure that a new fit test is completed prior to the placement commencing.

What if I refuse, or object to, a fit test?

Annual fit testing is a requirement for all students undertaking a placement within a clinical setting. Should you decide not to undertake fit testing at this time, you may be required to unenroll from your clinical placement course. We recommend you book an appointment with a USC Program Adviser to discuss your options and program progression.

What if I fail a fit test?

If you fail a fit test, you will be required to continue to test on subsequent respirator(s) until a successful fit is found. If you are not able to obtain a successful fit test result, you will be unable to proceed to placement, and may be required to unenroll from your clinical placement course. In this case, you should book an appointment with a USC Program Adviser to discuss your options and program progression.

Last updated Friday 21 January 2022