Bennett, Rosalie (2008)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
Government demands to increase the number of physiotherapy students have led to problems in acquiring extra placements in which these students can experience their clinical education. This problem has been accentuated by difficulties with recruitment and retention of physiotherapy staff that might take on the role of clinical educator. This study uses empirical data to explore how further placements could be found without compromising the quality of the learning experiences. Action research is used to identify current practice and areas where change may be advantageous. Perceptions are drawn from professionals and students - physiotherapy managers, clinical educators and physiotherapy students. Data collecting techniques include interviews (13 physiotherapy managers) and five questionnaires – with clinical educators (n=67 and 42) and students (n= 73, 76 and 62) as samples. All data are triangulated to justify the study findings. The findings are framed around concepts of management and learning within clinical education. Evidence that emerged during the action research process led to two main changes. Firstly more junior grades of physiotherapy staff were included within the pool of clinical educators. Secondly a new ‘model’ of facilitating learning was established through the creation of ‘learning teams’ where both students and clinical educators worked together to share and develop knowledge. Changes meant that increased student numbers were accommodated without compromising quality. This was demonstrated through positive student evaluation of clinical placements at the end of their degree course. The impact of accommodating students within physiotherapy settings is discussed in relation to departmental, personal and professional management. Priority could be given to improving how student learning might influence not only personal but also professional development.
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