An exploration of accelerated pre-registration courses in physiotherapy: perceptions of practitioners
The aim of this research study was to explore physiotherapy clinicians’ perceptions of both traditional and accelerated pre-registration physiotherapy training courses with regard to professional practice. The term ‘accelerated courses’ refers to shortened study routes that have no significant loss of content. Applicants to pre-registration accelerated courses in physiotherapy require an existing Honours’ degree to incorporate their prior learning and abilities. A mixed methodology approach was used in three phases. Clinical marks of pre registration physiotherapy students from both courses were compared. Results indicated that those from accelerated courses gained higher marks than their traditional counterparts. Interview data from a purposive sample of fourteen senior clinicians was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Findings were compared with questionnaire results from a larger purposive sample of fifty-one clinicians having gained a 50% response rate Analysis indicated that these clinicians valued physiotherapists trained from both routes but for different reasons. Two major superordinate themes arose. Within ‘Perceptions of Success’ many clinicians noted the accelerated graduates’ greater confidence. This was associated with their extended academic background and/or additional life skills. Many accelerated graduates were said to ‘hit the ground running’ as they quickly acclimatised into the complex working environment. However in the second superordinate theme entitled ‘A Note of Caution’ over-confidence was noted amongst some accelerated graduates. This caused minor difficulties in team dynamics and/or certain aspects of clinical care. Some needed ‘reining in’ in the early stages of their career. In direct contrast some traditional graduates appeared less confident, passive and lacking initiative. Nonetheless these same clinicians preferred this as they saw opportunities to ‘mould’, influence and develop the traditionally trained graduates as they saw fit. Both perceptions are of interest in light of Quality Assurance Agency expectations of Honours and Masters level outcomes and have implications for training and clinical practice alike.
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