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Exploring the experiences of novice clinical instructors in physical therapy clinical education: a phenomenological study

Abstract

Objective

To explore the perceptions of novice physical therapy clinical instructors (CIs) about their interactions and teaching behaviours with physical therapy students.

Design

A phenomenological approach using semi-structured interviews and a focus group.

Participants

Six novice physical therapy CIs (less than two years as a CI and supervised fewer than three students) were recruited purposefully from a large metropolitan area in the USA. All participants were credentialed by the American Physical Therapy Association as CIs.

Main outcome measures

Transcripts of interview data and focus group data were analysed using interpretative analysis for themes and subthemes.

Results

Participants viewed the transition of students from the classroom to the clinic as their primary role, using strategies of ‘providing a way in’, ‘fostering critical thinking’, ‘finding a balance’, ‘overcoming barriers’ and ‘letting go’.

Conclusion

While novice CIs showed skill in fostering student reflection and providing orientation, they struggled with student autonomy and balancing the competing obligations of patient care and clinical instruction. They expressed issues related to anxiety and lack of confidence. In the future, novice CIs could benefit from training and support in these areas.

Cite this article

Exploring the experiences of novice clinical instructors in physical therapy clinical education: a phenomenological study Greenfield, B.H. et al. Physiotherapy, Volume 100, Issue 4, 349 - 355

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