Clinical Placement in Developing Countries: Perceptions of Undergraduate Physiotherapy Students

O’Sullivan, C., McMahon, S. and Garrett, S. (2013) Clinical Placement in Developing Countries: Perceptions of Undergraduate Physiotherapy Students. In: 6th scientific meeting of the Irish Network of Medical Educators (INMED), 21st February to Friday 22nd February 2013, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.


AIM The aim of this study was to explore students’ perceptions and experiences following a 5 week clinical placement in Africa METHODS All 6 students who had undertaken placement in a developing country during summer 2012 volunteered to participate. Placements took place in Uganda (n=3) and Ghana (n=3) in June 2012. A structured group feedback approach was employed (O’Donoghue et al 2011), where students were presented with open ended questions in relation to (i) predeparture preparation; (ii) teaching and learning during the placement; and (iii) environmental/cultural aspects of the experience. RESULTS Students’ perceptions of their placement experience were very positive. Students reported that they were adequately prepared in terms of Background physiotherapy knowledge but suggested that further preparation regarding the cultural aspects of working in a developing country would be beneficial. Positive results in the teaching and learning domain included: diverse patient population, good physiotherapy resources (equipment and space), benefits of peer learning and that their placement goals were patient treatment orientated rather than grade orientated. The development of generic skills was emphasised as follows: improved communication, improved confidence, improved confidence when working in a multi-disciplinary team, innovative with treatments, improved self-motivation and adaptability. Students reported feeling more competent as physiotherapists, as they had a larger scope of practice than they would on placement in Ireland. Negative aspects included lack of resources for patients and different systems of physiotherapy assessment. Under environmental aspects, the students reported that the working environment was relaxed, which improved their confidence. Language was reported as a common barrier to rehabilitation CONCLUSIONS There is evidence that overseas placements in developing countries develop generic skills in physiotherapy students. More research is required to further evaluate the effects of clinical placement in developing countries on health professions students and their host communities.

[thumbnail of INMED 2013 Book Of Abstracts.pdf]
INMED 2013 Book Of Abstracts.pdf

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