Physio team win excellence award for innovative student-led clinic

A physiotherapy team has won a higher education award for setting up a clinic that provides a pioneering approach to supervising students on placement.

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The award winning physiotherapy and sports rehabilitation team

The University of Bradford’s physiotherapy and sports rehabilitation team received the Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE) award at a ceremony hosted by AdvanceHE in Manchester on 16 October.

The award, which recognises the positive impact the clinic has had on teaching and learning, and the success staff have achieved through working in partnership with students, follows the team’s introduction of a Designated Clinical Educator (DCE) model.

This innovative model enables two experienced professionals – a full-time clinical lead and a clinical educator - to supervise up to eight students, who are on full-time placements within the clinic.

Jamie Moseley, the clinic’s clinical lead physio, told Frontline: ‘We are able to operate a 1:4 and even up to 1:5 supervisor to student supervision model, and my colleague and I are available all of the time to supervise the students.

‘We also use a range of technology-enhanced learning approaches, as well as peer observations, feedback from patients - as well as from supervisors - and patient to student performance feedback. And the students also run research projects as they come through the clinic.’

Impressive results

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The higher student to staff ratio has enabled the clinic to treat more patients, while also providing the students with more supervised experience.

‘We've gone from previously only seeing a handful of patients, and primarily being a clinic for students to practice in prior to going out on placements, to now, on certain days,  seeing  literally a hundred people come through the clinic,’ said Mr Moseley.

In addition, as part of a recent evaluation of the clinic, feedback was collected from patients who attended 100 initial assessments.

The results found that 100 per cent of patients ‘would definitely recommend the clinic to friends and family’ and that all of the patients surveyed thought ‘the students in the clinic appear to be well supervised and supported by qualified staff.’

Overcoming barriers to placement provision

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Mr Moseley believes the clinic’s innovative approach could help to support increasing student placement provision.

‘Universities, and the NHS, are struggling to grow the physiotherapy workforce,’ he said.

‘They are trying to expand the educational programmes but they are limited because the placement providers can’t provide enough placements for students to get the experience they need to become registered with the HCPC.

‘So one of main barriers to growing the workforce is adequate placement provision. And the reason for that is there is still a bit of a myth that placements have to be supervised on a one-to-one model.’

As a result, the clinic’s team have been providing presentations at NHS trusts, to explain how the DCE model allows them to have more students on placements.

‘And we explain how that means we have the capacity to see more patients, so if this was approach was used more widely it could have an impact on waiting lists- as well as on workforce pressures - because this model allows more students through.’

Earlier this year, the team also submitted an abstract paper about the clinic to the World Congress of Physical Therapists (WCPT) in Geneva, and the clinic became a registered placement provider with Higher Education England.

High rates of student satisfaction

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Since the team adopted the DCE model, students who have completed placements at the clinic have consistently rated their experience highly, and this year the clinic received a 100 per cent rating for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey.

Aaron Moorfoot, a student who recently completed a placement at the clinic, said: ‘This placement was valuable as a learning experience as I was given more time with patients independently in comparison to other placements.’

While Abigail Liles, another student on went through the programme, said: ‘The educators worked really hard to ensure they were supporting everyone and always took time to answer any questions or problems that we had even when there were a lot of students in the clinic.’

Supporting a rise in student numbers

Commenting on the team's award win, CSP professional adviser Claire Fordham said: 'As a result of the welcome growth in student numbers in some parts of the UK, it is essential that high quality placement provision is secured.

'It is important that clinician’s realise that there are other models where students can be well supported and supervised that do not rely on the traditional one-to-one model.'

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