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Student Voices: What do they tell us about Professional Development in the area of Mental Health Practice?

Woolfenden, Lauren and Sarin, Beverly 2010. Student Voices: What do they tell us about Professional Development in the area of Mental Health Practice? Presented at: The 3rd International Conference of Physiotherapists in Psychiatry and Mental Health, Lund, Sweden, 3rd - 5th February 2010.

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Purpose To review physiotherapy professional development within the area of Mental Health (MH) practice from an undergraduate (UG) student perspective. To identify the barriers to and enablers of the development of effective physiotherapy practice when working with people with MH disorders (MHD). Relevance 1 in 4 people in the UK are affected by a MHD every year. Negative stigma is heavily associated with mental health disorders; moreover current research suggests that attitudes of both the public and healthcare professionals towards mental illness are becoming worse, causing stigma to amplify. As Physiotherapy students are the next generation of Healthcare Professionals it is vital to challenge any negative attitudes and concerns they might have about working with people with mental health disorders to enable confident engagement for successful holistic rehabilitation to take place. Students’ commentaries can be used to gain insight into their perceptions, understanding and experiences to provide signposts for the evaluation and support of Professional Development in this area at UG level. Participants & Methodology Seven 3rd year BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy Students from Cardiff University participated in a 1 hour Semi-Structured Focus Group discussion. Purposive sampling was used to identify students with some experience of working with patients with MHD either on MH or general placements. Each student had completed six 4-week clinical placements, in a range of settings, prior to the study. Ethical approval was gained through Cardiff University Ethical Committee. Informed consent was gained prior to the study. Analysis & Results Results were thematically analysed providing messages about the areas of: Perception and Awareness (Personal and Professional), Healthcare (Structure and segregation), Education (Structure and segregation), and Skills and Strategies (Development and application). Conclusions Students’ voices have provided clear indications that stigma about MHD comes from a number of sources; from their personal cultures, the media and from the Physiotherapy profession itself. They advise us to look towards the integration of some aspects of this professional development within the Curricular ‘Core Subjects’ to better reflect the normal occurrence of engagement with people with MHD within their clinical practice. They ask us to provide a greater number of opportunities to gain practical experience and understanding within this area by providing more specialist clinical placements in MH. They also emphasise the importance of an understanding of MHD and the psychological impact of trauma, illness and health disorders to enable them to use effective reasoning strategies to provide holistic care for their patients. Implications ‘Student voices’ provide rich evidence of their engagement in the process of professional development, and the contexts that influence their understanding and motivation for working with patients with Mental Health Disorders. These voices should be used to guide the evaluation and development of UG professional development in this area.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Healthcare Sciences
Subjects: R Medicine > RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology
Uncontrolled Keywords: Student Voices; Experiential learning; Professional development
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2020 04:53

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