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Title: Decision-making : understanding undergraduate 'fitness to practise' panels using a simulated case study approach
Author: Hayes, J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6059 3450
Awarding Body: Liverpool John Moores University
Current Institution: Liverpool John Moores University
Date of Award: 2016
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Fitness to Practise (FtP) is an emerging area of interest within the health and social care field due to the increasing high profile cases relating to professionalism and conduct of practitioners. Research has ‘yet to catch up’ with the emerging interest and the current body of evidence predominately consists of literature reviews and descriptive or discursive papers which examine the process and functionality of FtP panels. Currently no research has attempted to examine the decisions made or indeed how these decisions were arrived at within the following health and social care professions, Nursing, Paramedic Practice and Social work. Professional regulation for each of these professional groups is established through regulatory bodies. The regulation and determination of FtP of students on leading to registration is the role of the Higher Education Institution (HEI) and is less uniform in its approach. This may lead to disparity and the potential risk of inconsistency, unfair and unjust decisions for students. Aim: In order to gain a greater understanding FtP and professional conduct, this research study aimed to examine the decision-making process involved in ‘FtP’ panels for undergraduate health and social care students, comparing the decision-making process of students, lay person and practitioners (both experienced and inexperienced). This study explored the factors that influence the decision-making processes including experience and skills. Methods: Three simulated ‘FtP’ case studies were created and filmed to examine the decision-making process that takes place in panels for undergraduate nursing/paramedic/social work students. These were informed by real life cases and expertise of professionals within each of the professional groups. Actors were recruited for each of the case studies and the simulations were filmed. Debriefing of the simulation was conducted with the actors and the data collected was analysed using thematic analysis. The case studies were then examined and deconstructed by four focus groups for each case (twelve in total) with degrees of experience, lay people and students. This deconstruction also included an evaluation of the simulation and its potential use in the field of FtP. The data collected was analysed using thematic analysis and key emergent themes were identified. Findings: The findings highlighted two key areas. Firstly, the importance of those involved in panels, 'the people involved in FtP panel' and secondly the ‘decisions that were made during the panels’. These findings suggest that there are a number of identified roles within FtP. The influence of these roles is measured not by the role but the execution of the role and personalities are more influential than identified roles. There is a further suggestion that experience of FtP panels can influence decision-making processes and can make for lengthy yet robust decision-making and that when systematic approaches to decision-making are employed that there is clearer understanding of decisions it leads to more effective decision-making processes. Conclusion: Understanding student FtP decision-making and the influential factors involved in that process will inform HEIs in the overall management of FtP and consequently promote consistency and fairness in decision-making. This will be achieved by recognising the influential factors on the processes of FtP and considering these when FtP are conducted. It should prompt attention to the approaches adopted by individuals during FtP and the need for a more uniformed approach to FtP not dissimilar to that of the regulatory bodies approach. Implications: Recognising that personalities as well as identified roles are influential in the decision-making is important to consider when HEIs reflect panel composition. It is also essential to consider the experience and the skill when selecting panel members for FtP.
Supervisor: Porcellato, L. ; Malin, A. ; Kane, R. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: RA Public aspects of medicine ; RT Nursing