Belonging: Workforce and education projects

Nina Paterson provides an overview of further ways in which you can help shape the future of the profession

You Belong here
Workforce Development You Belong Here

You’ll have seen my colleague Reena Patel’s article in May’s Frontline – Modernising Physiotherapy where she introduced the pre-registration education review. 

When it comes to modernising, this review isn’t the only project in the pipeline for the CSP workforce and education team. You already know about the Common Placement Assessment tool. The tool’s imminent roll out should make it easier to take students from different universities, but perhaps more importantly, the tool, and associated guidance, reframe what placements are. It also places anti-racism, anti-discrimination and anti-oppression front-and-centre in the learning objectives. 

We’re also working with colleagues from across the HEIs and out in practice to develop a set of web-based resources for applicants coming into the profession to support them when applying. The focus for these is unashamedly about levelling the playing field. We know that academic attainment is linked to so many factors – societal, structural, familial... These intersecting factors create privilege for some of us over others, so that by the time some are even ready to apply to university they’re already at a disadvantage through no fault of their own. 

And that brings me to the final project, the review of Into Physiotherapy Welcoming Disabled Students.  The resource isn’t new, and our message is clear - having a disability should not be barrier to being a physiotherapist. Scope of practice is so broad, there’s a place for everyone – as there always has been. But the resource is in need of a major revamp – it focuses only on physical health for example, and we want to bring it to life with case studies showing how students with disabilities can flourish within university and on placement. 

Why are we focusing on these resources now? 

Simply because a profession should always have the opportunity to pause, take stock, define and redefine itself ready for the next chapter. That’s evolution and it’s healthy. Because pre-registration education is the foundation on which the profession is built, these reviews therefore naturally create a pause-point for the whole profession to consider its prevailing culture, to question it, challenge it, and course correct when necessary. It’s impossible for them not to! 

Whenever we review or develop resources, they reflect the profession and society’s thinking at the time. And that’s true of if you look back at any of the curriculum/education guidance reviews. The profession doesn’t sit in isolation from the society that it serves. 

As our society is having more open discussions, the resources are becoming more explicit reflecting the values of anti-discrimination and pro-inclusivity. The recent anniversary of George Floyd’s murder was a graphic reminder of the very real consequences of structural and systemic discrimination. Prejudice has consequences, and healthcare is not immune. I’m not just talking about the impact on patients or clients, I’m also talking about our students – the next generation of the profession who look to us for how to become a physiotherapist. That’s a responsibility! And one I know that most of us are acutely aware of – that it’s never just been about doing physiotherapy – culture and identity are indivisible from the skills and knowledge. That’s why the framework is as much about behaviours and values as it is about the other two. 

So we’re simply doing what we should have done sooner – bringing these values and behaviours to the fore. 

Discussing them openly and embracing the challenge and uncomfortableness that these assertions might bring.

What would we like you to do?

Get involved, shape the debate, contribute to their development, overwhelm us with case studies and champion the resources when they’re launched. 

It might feel easier to put yourself to engage with the pre-registration education review because it’s a lived experience that all physiotherapists relate to. But even if you think you aren’t the intended recipient of the other resources, I’d encourage you to get involved anyway.  

We’re all part of our students’ experiences – cultural change can only be achieved if everyone is an ally so please use your voice and engage anyway – whether that’s joining a reference group, attending a workshop/focus group, sending us a case study or being an avid champion in the workplace. 

Volunteer call out: Disability Guidance Reference Group

We’re looking for volunteers to help shape the project as we redevelop the guidance. We’ve already asked the DisAbility network convenors to join us but also we’re looking to draw together others keen to help. If you’re interested/want more detail, or would like to know more about any of the projects please get in touch.

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