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Title: Making improvements to clinical internship for physiotherapists
Author: Ang, Hui Gek
ISNI:       0000 0004 6422 7378
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2017
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Introduction: Internship for physiotherapists is recognised as necessary and beneficial in preparing graduated students to enter the workforce at a desired level of proficiency. The training model should provide the intern with quality learning experiences in the real-world context to develop the necessary knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours that supports their transition to independent practice. Recent regulatory developments in Singapore have required that physiotherapy graduates undergo compulsory supervised practice before registration. My organization has launched the formal internship program recently to align with regulatory and administrative requirements. As a hospital leader, it is expedient that I conduct an action-oriented research to better understand and address the organisational issues surrounding clinical internship, an area that has not been fully explored in my organization and country. Understanding what successful learning or effective training looks is vital in providing an internship program that would optimally train interns or novice physiotherapists to be clinically competent and ready for professional practice. Objective: The research objective was to gain insights on what makes for an effective physiotherapy internship; to evaluate my organization's current internship program and to formulate actionable strategies that can be implemented to progressively improve our current program. Method: Different research methods were adopted in this action-oriented research. Based on a conceptual framework of the clinical learning environment theorised from existing literature, a survey questionnaire was designed to collect data from stakeholder groups on their perception of factors influencing the effectiveness of current internship program. Focus groups were conducted to obtain rich qualitative data and to draw insights on the lived experiences of stakeholder-participants. Subsequent discussion of results with influential leaders support the triangulation of data and the needed buy-in from them to effect recommended change actions to improve practice. Results: Six (6) major factors were found to influence the effectiveness of physiotherapy internship. These factors or themes that emerged from the data grounded in our practice were: coaching activity, intern (learner) factors, supervisor (teacher) factors, intern-supervisor relationship, environmental factors and program factors. The research found that intern-supervisor relationship was ranked most important in influencing the effectiveness of internship training by clinical supervisors, recent interns and the community of physiotherapists. The overall effectiveness of our current internship program was rated average by all stakeholder groups. Strategies to improve current internship were developed and assessed by physiotherapy leaders for their implementation ability. These improvement strategies include clear definitions and articulation of supervised practice (internship) and coaching practice, specific guidance for interns and supervisors in preparing for their roles and responsibilities, and recommendations for capacity and capability development. Conclusion: Through action research, I, the scholarly manager-leader, was able to collaboratively formulate actionable strategies with key physiotherapy leaders to make improvements to our internship program for physiotherapists. This research study has value-added both in informing and improving practice. The knowledge and insights gained serve the purposes of the local physiotherapy community in which it was carried out. The knowledge produced may also provide academic insights and concepts of social and organizational behaviour for the interests of the bigger research community.
Supervisor: Ellwood, P. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.B.A.) Qualification Level: Doctoral