BACKGROUND: Practical hands-on learning opportunities are viewed as a vital component of the education of health science students, but there is a critical shortage of fieldwork placement experiences. It is therefore important that these clinical learning environments are well suited to students' perceptions and expectations. PURPOSE: To investigate how undergraduate students enrolled in health-related education programs view their clinical learning environments and specifically to compare students' perception of their 'actual' clinical learning environment to that of their 'preferred/ideal' clinical learning environment. METHOD: The Clinical Learning Environment Inventory (CLEI) was used to collect data from 548 undergraduate students (55% response rate) enrolled in all year levels of paramedics, midwifery, radiography and medical imaging, occupational therapy, pharmacy, nutrition and dietetics, physiotherapy and social work at Monash University via convenience sampling. Students were asked to rate their perception of the clinical learning environment at the completion of their placements using the CLEI. RESULTS: Satisfaction of the students enrolled in the health-related disciplines was closely linked with the five constructs measured by the CLEI: Personalization, Student Involvement, Task Orientation, Innovation, and Individualization. Significant differences were found between the student's perception of their 'actual' clinical learning environment and their 'ideal' clinical learning environment. CONCLUSION: The study highlights the importance of a supportive clinical learning environment that places emphasis on effective two-way communication. A thorough understanding of students' perceptions of their clinical learning environments is essential.