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Title: Experiences of practice educators supporting disabled physiotherapy students : a critical exploration
Author: Atkinson, Karen Ann
ISNI:       0000 0004 7964 8634
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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Disabled physiotherapists have been part of the profession for over one hundred years, nevertheless, the greatest influences physiotherapy has in relation to disability are the therapeutic alliances with clients; which have often been managed through a largely reductionist biomedical approach. This can lead to dissonance when a disabled person is in a professional rather than a client role. Practice educators aim to enable students to assume often standard patterns of physiotherapy 'ways of being'. Findings from previous research suggest that while disabled students often tend to be viewed through a deficit lens, few studies have specifically sought to identify the concerns of practice educators when working with them. The aim of this thesis was to explore the experiences and understandings of practice educators and the influences that the presence of disability has on the educational process in the clinical setting. This qualitative study involved eight physiotherapy practice educators from London and the SouthEast and explored their experiences of supporting disabled students. Through an interpretive, ideographic approach which drew upon Bourdieu's sociology of practice and critical hermeneutics key themes identified were Pressures and placements; educator needs and perceived lack of support; perceived student challenges; disclosure-communication and honesty; understandings of disability and; educator responsibility. Participants rarely explicitly discussed their understandings of disability; yet they had specific requirements for students to 'disclose' their impairments. Participants' accounts were related to the professional doxa and habitus of physiotherapy that impacted upon understandings of disability and practice. Consequently, a 'practice gap' was identified in relation to the support of disabled students. Tensions were identified regarding the content and competence-based focus of education in contrast to possibilities offered by reconceptualising physiotherapy from traditionally biomedical definitions of disability to a more critical understanding of it. It is concluded that opportunities are needed within curricula, research and network groups to explore professionalism and psychosocial aspects of health, through critical thinking and professional reflection.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available