Augmenting competence : an investigation of criteria which may enhance podiatry education
In 2001, the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), in consultation with the professional body for Podiatry in the U. K., the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists (SoCAP), issued a list of benchmark statements that could be expected of new graduate podiatrists. This provided a list of threshold competences expected of students prior to achieving independent practitioner status. These statements are essentially outcomes based judgements based on the students' performance. Evidence within the literature searches suggests that the achievement of competences alone is not enough on which to base such quality judgements and it would follow that the measurement of the quality of podiatry education is therefore incomplete. This study sought to identify a complementary set of statements to supplement the QAA benchmark statement in the education of podiatrists. The pathway leaders of the schools of podiatry from the U. K., Australia, South Africa and New Zealand were asked to cooperate in the formation of a set of criteria that they felt could be considered as being appropriate. This included the subject areas taken from the literature originating in medical education, namely the staff, the resources, the students themselves and the pathway as a whole, each considered as key considerations. The outcome of these discussions served to form a more inclusive set of criteria that may be included to complete the quality circle of standards of podiatry education and hopefully these will be debated further at a later stage for consideration in tandem with the existing competence statements. The study employed an action research methodology and the data was collected in cycles from the participants. Initially a request was made to the professional body for details of any existing guidelines regarding such statements. This was followed using questionnaires, then semi-structured interviews involving the pathway leaders. A list of 32 criteria was distilled from the two rounds of data collection. These were subjected to Likert scale attitude measures, to create the final list of 28 criteria that were agreed by all participants to influence the education of podiatrists. These criteria were sent to the professional body for further debate, to make them aware of a potential weakness in the measurement of the quality of education for podiatrists. It is hoped that further discussions will include all or some of these findings to supplement the existing benchmark initiatives. It may or may not be considered to be appropriate at a later stage to widen the debate to include other groups such as the NHS managers (as employers) and the students (as consumers). The initial feedback from the Director Of Education of SoCAP, the professional body in the UK was positive, in that the potential value of such data was recognised. The response interpreted that the data satisfied the need for the collection of qualitative information, which could be used to balance and support the quantitative data, on which the QAA and professional body had determined the outcome- based benchmark statements.