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Exploring the experiences of final-year BSc (Hons) physiotherapy students? that influence views on future career specialisation in cardiorespiratory physiotherapy

Thomas, H. A. and Bendall, Amy 2019. Exploring the experiences of final-year BSc (Hons) physiotherapy students? that influence views on future career specialisation in cardiorespiratory physiotherapy. Physiotherapy 105 , e115-e116. 10.1016/

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Purpose: There is widespread concern for the uptake and retention of cardiorespiratory physiotherapy (CRPT) specialists, with a lack of interest in specialising reported amongst final-year students in Canada, United Kingdom (UK), Australia, and New Zealand. Although the literature on this topic is limited, the reasons reported include limited clinical experiences whilst at university, alongside fears and anxieties that exist amongst undergraduates in relation to the requirements of qualified responsibilities, for example on-call working. In nurturing and promoting the specialism therefore, more understanding of the experiences of students prior to qualification that influence their views of pursuing CRPT is needed. The study aimed to explore final-year BSc (Hons) physiotherapy students’ experiences of CRPT that influence their views on future specialisation within the field. Methods: A qualitative method using a focus group with six participants from one final-year BSc (Hons) university cohort, selected using purposive sampling was conducted, underpinned by an interpretive approach. The interview guide was developed from a literature review. Verbatim transcription and thematic analysis was employed alongside analyst triangulation and reflexivity. Results: Four themes were identified: (1) Influential figures (Clinical-educator, CRPT clinical team and CRPT university lecturers), (2) Learning and teaching practices, (3) Care-giving challenges and (4) Factors external to CRPT; further sub-themes were presented. Quotations were used to corroborate the themes. Conclusion(s): This work demonstrates that there is considerable potential at pre-registration level to influence student views of pursuing CRPT as a career path. Increasing practical teaching sessions and acknowledging the acute CRPT environment, alongside discussions around care-giving challenges at university are identified as ways that may better prepare students for practice-education. Encountering passionate role models and experiencing a supportive environment during practice-education also increase student interest levels in CRPT alongside a practice-education environment that is supportive and conducive to learning. Ultimately, the study found that student interest in pursuing CRPT as a career path is multifactorial, and although the study demonstrates that the decision will be made during qualified rotations, opportunities provided at pre-registration level can favourably contribute towards future career specialisation. This study provides insight from one university cohort and whilst a reflexive approach, triangulation and a clear audit trail enhance trustworthiness of this work, there are limits to the transferability of findings. All participants had completed a cardiorespiratory placement and different findings may have been found if this experience had not been provided. Further work on this important topic, particularly focusing on the factors influencing the decision making process for career specialisation amongst newly qualified physiotherapists, is required to promote opportunities for cardiorespiratory workforce development. Implications: These findings are pertinent to all stakeholders to the cardiorespiratory specialty concerned with growing workforce capacity and is also useful in informing teaching practices within the university that the study took place, and may be useful to other institutions with similar student and programme characteristics.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Healthcare Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0031-9406
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 22 January 2019
Date of Acceptance: 1 January 2019
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2019 12:31

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