CPD: your physiotherapy career (part 1)

CSP professional adviser Gwyn Owen looks at how you can develop your career through promoting practice-based learning.

This is the first in a series of five articles focusing on career development in physiotherapy. Over the next few months, Frontline’s CPD series will be exploring the learning and development opportunities that are part of everyday physiotherapy practice. 
These articles will encourage you to reflect on your practice to see how your career is unfolding and to think about where you’d like to go next – whether you’re just starting out or are further along your career path.
As Katrina Kennedy explained in the last issue of Frontline, all CSP members, regardless of grade, practice setting or occupational role, have a responsibility to engage in educating future members of the profession. This first article explores the rich development opportunities that come from being involved in supporting students’ learning in practice. 

Supporting the development of the next generation of physiotherapists

Practice-based learning is an essential part of pre-registration physiotherapy education. It is the process through which students learn to become physiotherapists by being socialised and supported to develop physiotherapy values, behaviours, knowledge and skills in practice. 
The CSP doesn’t prescribe how practice-based learning should be delivered. Instead, it offers a set of principles that enable individuals and teams to develop good quality practice-based learning opportunities that fit with the design and delivery of their physiotherapy service. What might work really well on an acute ward or in private practice may not work as well in a primary care or community-based placement, for example. 
The key aim is to ensure students can meet the learning outcomes specified for the placement, while ensuring that structures and processes are in place to maintain the quality of learning and to manage any risks associated with learning in practice. This approach means that everyone who works in the placement setting has a part to play, whether as the named practice educator or as part of the wider team. And where placements are based on a collaborative partnership between students, practitioners and university staff, practice-based learning offers rich learning and development opportunities for everyone involved. 

Career development opportunities

Programme reviews

Follow Nina Paterson’s lead by reading the last CPD article and get involved in the review of pre-registration physiotherapy programmes. Your involvement will help inform the design, content and delivery of qualifying physiotherapy education, and will give you a chance to tap into the learning and development resources that sit within your local higher education institution (HEI).
And if you are interested in pursuing an academic career, look out for opportunities to get involved with delivering the classroom-based content of the programme. You might been keen to become a guest lecturer, for example. 

Practice educator

Practice educators work with colleagues and students to create programmes of learning and supervised practice that align with learning objectives established for a placement. 
They are also responsible for placement assessment (formative and summative), and for liaising with the HEI about students’ progress and any specific concerns that emerge during the placement.
All HEIs offer initial practice educator training days that introduce staff to the role. Following initial training, support from HEIs is available on an ongoing basis, through study days, workshops and conferences, and access to personalised advice on specific issues arising in practice, for example. 
These opportunities ensure that practice educators maintain and develop the capacity and confidence needed to offer quality practice-based learning.   

Placement education facilitator

If you work within a large organisation, there may be opportunities to take on a placement education facilitator role. These roles focus on enhancing the quality and capacity of practice-based learning within an organisation by supporting the development of staff involved, and by establishing processes and relationships that help optimise placement capacity. This requires working with practice educators, physiotherapy service leads and local physiotherapy education providers. So there is plenty of opportunity to develop and demonstrate your ability to lead, network, enhance quality and support learning in practice – at an organisational level.  fl 

Templates and tools to record, evaluate and plan your development 

The collection of continuing professional development (CPD) templates available in your CSP ePortfolio account will help you record what you have gained through your involvement in practice-based learning. The CSP ePortfolio also includes a journal tool that is ideal for keeping an online log of experiences and reflections of practice-based learning. Visit  to log into your CSP ePortfolio account
The CSP’s Physiotherapy Framework defines the values, behaviours, knowledge and skills needed to ‘help others learn and develop’. The Helping others learn and develop workbook will help you track the ongoing development of your capacity for practice-based learning. This workbook is available in the Physiotherapy Framework eBite. This sits in the career tools section of CSP’s learning hub, which you can access via the dashboard in your CSP ePortfolio account.  

Resources to support your development as a practice educator

Gwen Owen CSP professional adviser

Number of subscribers: 3

Log in to comment and read comments that have been added