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Commencing taught post-qualifying education: barriers facing physiotherapists. Oral presentation at the World Confederation of Physical Therapy Congress, Vancouver, 2-6/06/2007

By Peter Glover and Catherine Bulley


PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to explore the personal\ud perspectives of physiotherapists regarding their perceived barriers to commencing taught physiotherapy-related Master’s level study(MLS). RELEVANCE: With rapidly increasing knowledge there is a requirement for continuing professional development to enable evidence-based practice. Taught MLS provides guidance in this development; greater understanding of barriers facing physiotherapists in undertaking MLS will enable facilitation in clinical and\ud educational environments. PARTICIPANTS: A purposive sample of 9 volunteers (8 female, 1 male, mean age: 36 ±7.29) was recruited.\ud \ud Participants were: engaged in part-time taught MLS; registered with the United Kingdom’s professional regulatory body; working within the National Health Service, and possessed a minimum of four years clinical experience. METHODS: A qualitative, interpretative, phenomenological study was undertaken with the assumption that reality is individual and all viewpoints are valid. Following ethical approval, individual, semi-structured interviews (mean time: 67 minutes) were conducted using an interview schedule. Questions were derived from a literature review and two developmental interviews\ud with Master’s graduates. ANALYSIS: Interviews were transcribed verbatim and a summary was member-checked to ensure that initial interpretations were appropriate. Data analysis was conducted using the framework of interpretative phenomenological analysis.\ud This focuses on analysis and interpretation of the participants’ words in context to gain deeper understanding of their experiences.\ud Quotations that communicated similar meanings and ideas were\ud grouped to form themes. Where conceptual links were identified, key themes emerged. Peer verification of this analysis was conducted to increase rigour and involved reflexive discussions with an experienced qualitative researcher. RESULTS: Three key themes emerged that described the barriers to MLS in different environments:\ud educational, working, and social. There were several barriers associated with the educational environment; participants frequently expressed self-doubt regarding academic abilities, often related to past educational experiences. They also described negative emotions due to unfamiliarity with the environment and content of MLS. These seemed particularly strong amongst participants who\ud were only qualified to diploma level, as they felt their previous education did not prepare them for MLS. Barriers associated with the working context included a lack of professional support, especially in relation to funding and study leave. These led to social barriers as clinicians were anxious about having insufficient time and finances\ud to fulfil their social roles. CONCLUSIONS: The experiences of this group of post-qualifying students suggest that clinicians who have not previously studied at degree level may face greater barriers to commencing MLS than those with a degree, due to self-doubt and unfamiliarity with higher education. Prior to commencing their study participants had perceived the experience of MLS as potentially threatening, and were concerned about the time and financial resource implications. Further exploratory research into how to effectively address the barriers highlighted in this study is required.\ud IMPLICATIONS: The perceived barriers to MLS communicated by\ud this group of physiotherapists may be reduced by improving links between clinical and educational environments, thereby increasing familiarity and enabling discussion of the resources required for MLS.\ud This may lead to greater professional and financial support for qualified physiotherapists who wish to commence MLS

Publisher: Elsevier Science B.V. Amsterdam
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