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Are physiotherapy students adequately prepared to successfully gain employment?

Abstract

Objectives

To explore the preparedness of final-year physiotherapy students for their progression into employment, and identify what universities can do to facilitate a smooth transition.

Design

A single-cohort study, utilising a qualitative design incorporating a survey followed by transcribed and coded semi-structured interviews.

Setting

Interviews were held in the Placement and Careers Centre at Brunel University, London.

Participants

Sixty final-year full- and part-time students participated in the survey, and 12 final-year full- and part-time students participated in the semi-structured interviews.

Methods

Sixty students completed a questionnaire which explored their preparedness for employment. Questions related to the current job situation, the application process and the student's ideal first post. Responses from the questionnaire were analysed and discussed further through a digitally recorded interview. Twelve students were interviewed by an experienced interviewer from a non-physiotherapy background.

Results

Students felt unprepared for employment. Forty-seven per cent wanted a rotational post, but 26% would only spend 6 months and 39% would only spend 1 year looking for a job. Seventy-one percent would change career and 99% would work abroad if they were unable to secure a post in the UK. Most importantly, students could not identify transferable skills required by potential employers; only 25% cited effective communications, and 10% cited flexible working as a transferable skill. Self-management skills (e.g. prioritisation, time management and documentation) were not perceived as essential for employment.

Conclusions

The job market requires physiotherapy graduates to possess transferable skills which can be applied to any situation. Many are integral to the profession and the undergraduate curriculum; however, analysis and assimilation of these skills cannot be assumed. Universities should reflect on their curriculum delivery to produce graduates who meet employers’ expectations and make a smooth transition into the workplace.

Cite this article

Are physiotherapy students adequately prepared to successfully gain employment? Mandy Jones, Judith McIntyre, Sandra Naylor Physiotherapy - June 2010 (Vol. 96, Issue 2, Pages 169-175, DOI: 10.1016/j.physio.2009.11.008)

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