EXPLORING PRACTICE-BASED EDUCATION IN PODIATRY: AN ACTION RESEARCH PROJECT
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Background: Government policy has placed greater emphasis upon health professional students gaining practical experience in real-world environments. Given the fairly new inception of the role of clinical educator in podiatry there is a paucity of research in the area of practice placement in podiatry. Research aims: Within an action research framework, the first phase focused upon exploring the capacity of clinical educators to engage with the role of mentoring, alongside the factors that might impact upon that capacity. The second phase of the project investigated the impact of a teaching tool within the placement area when utilised by clinical educators and students. Methods: The pilot study utilised established questionnaire development methods to create a survey and scale to measure clinical educators’ capacity to engage with the role. The second phase of the project used a range of qualitative data collection methods analysed using framework analysis to analyse the utility of the teaching and learning tool.
Findings: Phase I resulted in a 70-item scale measuring the capacity of clinical educators to engage with the role of clinical educator and the identification of four independent variables predictive of a significant proportion of the variability of the dependent variable, capacity to engage with clinical education. Phase II confirmed the utility of the teaching and learning tool to support clinical educators and students during the placement period. An inductive placement model, explanatory of the super-complexity of the environment where the clinical educator endeavours to monitor, modify and manage the placement scope, was developed. Conclusions: In an area where research is currently scant, this study contributed to practice-based education in podiatry and to current understanding of how clinical educators undertake this complex and responsible role. This is an important area for research given the influence clinical educators have to shape and guide the next generation of podiatry professionals.
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