Physiotherapy became a graduate profession in the 1990s marking a shift from ‘training’ to ‘education’. This means students are required to develop as reflective, innovative and autonomous practitioners. Traditional work-based learning has remained a key component in the curricula of physiotherapy programmes in higher education. This is delivered by qualified physiotherapists who take on the role of ‘practice educator’ with responsibility for teaching, supervision and assessment. The teaching and learning strategies of the university and work-based components of physiotherapy curricula are aligned. Concomitantly the delivery of physiotherapy services have become increasingly diverse and the wider health and social care context has changed. In response to these challenges the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (2006) published guidance on the development of work-based learning in community and non-traditional settings. This study explored how community-based placements could be developed to ensure work-based learning continues to meet students’ needs. An action research methodology was used because any change to established practice is more successful if it involves the people who are responsible for its implementation. Thematic analysis identified three important considerations in the development of community placements: Skill acquisition within community settings; expectations of the available learning and teaching opportunities; effects of health service improvements. This research has highlighted the importance of consultation between all those responsible for physiotherapy work-based learning. A review framework has subsequently been developed to both facilitate this consultation and evaluate placement opportunities available in a specific community setting.
- action research
- work-based learning