An exploratory study examining critical experiences and influences on professional identity of allied health students during clinical placement in a regional health service

Doctorate other than PhD


Furness, Linda Joy. 2020. An exploratory study examining critical experiences and influences on professional identity of allied health students during clinical placement in a regional health service. Doctorate other than PhD Doctor of Professional Studies. University of Southern Queensland. https://doi.org/10.26192/sq8h-p832
Title

An exploratory study examining critical experiences and influences on professional identity of allied health students during clinical placement in a regional health service

TypeDoctorate other than PhD
Authors
AuthorFurness, Linda Joy
SupervisorOstini, Jenny
Tynan, Anna
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Professional Studies
Number of Pages290
Year2020
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26192/sq8h-p832
Abstract

Background:
Significant investment has been put into supporting clinical placements to facilitate work-ready allied health professionals. Clinical placements in regional locations provide student health professionals with diverse learning opportunities. Engaging in clinical work and learning from role models and peers in the workplace are primary ways allied health students develop professional skills, behaviour and identities as a health professional. This Professional Studies thesis explores the influences that are supporting allied health students who are undertaking clinical placements in a regional health service, in Queensland, Australia, to think, feel and act like health professionals.

Methods:
A qualitative study comprising focus group discussions and a document review were conducted. Thematic analysis was used to analyse transcripts from the focus group discussions and of clinical education placement documents. A deductive framework based on Merton’s definition of professional identity ‘to think, act and feel like a health professional’ was used to inform and frame the data analysis.

Participants:
Participants of the study included allied health staff whose roles support clinical placement education in the health service (n=17), allied health students on placement (n=12) and new graduates in their first two years of practice working in the regional health service (n=11), and these all participated in separate focus groups. Clinical education documents used in the health service for orientation (n=13) and competency assessment (n=20) were reviewed.

Results:
Three overall themes about the influences of clinical placements on the development of professional identity for allied health students were identified. Using a framework of think/feel/act, the themes I have identified were:

1) Thinking supported by quality learning
2) Feeling supported by socialisation into the workplace community of practice
3) Acting supported by workplace affordances.

Suggested actions that can be implemented by a health service to support students completing clinical placements include the development of a learning partnership between student and clinical educator with clear expectations and opportunities for reflection and supervision; creating a workplace culture where students are valued and balancing student’s autonomy with graded learning to increase their independence. This research has contributed to professional practice through the revision of a conceptual framework for professional identity development by. The results of this research have been applied to practice in the candidate’s role as a Clinical Education Support Officer in the health service, through presentations to clinical educators and publications.

Conclusions:
The findings from this research show that the diverse work environment and experiences in a rural setting provide unique opportunities for students to begin to think, feel, and act as health professionals. Suggestions provided by students and new graduates can be used to inform the implementation of clinical placement experiences. These suggestions will be of interest to regional services providing student placements, universities providing student education and organisations providing professional development for clinical educators.

Keywordsallied health, clinical education, professional identity, regional, rural, clinical placements
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390303. Higher education
420305. Health and community services
390110. Medicine, nursing and health curriculum and pedagogy
420319. Primary health care
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Linguistics, Adult and Specialist Education
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https://research.usq.edu.au/item/q5yw6/an-exploratory-study-examining-critical-experiences-and-influences-on-professional-identity-of-allied-health-students-during-clinical-placement-in-a-regional-health-service

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Related outputs

What students and new graduates perceive supports them to think, feel and act as a health professional in a rural setting
Furness, Linda, Tynan, Anna and Ostini, Jenny. 2020. "What students and new graduates perceive supports them to think, feel and act as a health professional in a rural setting." Australian Journal of Rural Health. 28 (3), pp. 263-270. https://doi.org/10.1111/ajr.12607
What supports allied health students to think, feel and act as a health professional in a rural setting? Perceptions of allied health staff
Furness, Linda, Tynan, Anna and Ostini, Jenny. 2019. "What supports allied health students to think, feel and act as a health professional in a rural setting? Perceptions of allied health staff." Australian Journal of Rural Health. 27 (6), pp. 489-496. https://doi.org/10.1111/ajr.12557