Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

Practice Educators' Experiences of Supervising Two Students on Allied Health Practice-Based Placements

Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

Practice Educators' Experiences of Supervising Two Students on Allied Health Practice-Based Placements

Article excerpt

Introduction: Literature suggests that supervising two students together on clinical placement (2:1 model) has a place in practice-based education, helping to increase placement capacity, improve the learning experience for the students, and possibly improve departmental productivity. The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of allied health professional practice educators in using the 2:1 model. Methods: This qualitative study used an interpretive, phenomenological approach to data collection and interpretation. Thirteen educators with experience of practice education were recruited and either interviewed alone or involved in a focus group. Data were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analysed using NVivo 7 computer-based software. Results: The practice educators reported mixed views regarding the 2:1 model. Emergent themes suggested success of supervising two students may depend more on the attitude and philosophy of the practice educator than on the profession or clinical setting, that many practice educators had initially used the 2:1 model in response to a short notice request from the universities to accommodate more students, and that practice educators were unclear as to whether the 2:1 model affected their ability to get through their workload. Discussion: The findings suggest that the unplanned nature of the 2:1 model's initial use may have tempered views on its success. Also, success of this model appears to depend more on the attitude and approach of the practice educator and the support from colleagues to manage students and other workplace duties than it did to profession or clinical setting. J Allied Health 2010; 39:20-27.

PRACTICE-BASED EDUCATION is considered a principal component of medical and health care practitioner education,1 as it provides students with the opportunity to develop skills and experience in a variety of clinical settings.2 Internationally, increasing challenges in providing sufficient and high-quality practice placements for preregistration students have been recognised, with staffing shortages, fiscal constraints, increasing complexity in health service and education sectors, and rising student numbers being cited as some of the sources of these challenges.3

Defining the 2:1 Model

In practice-based education, the term 2:1 model has been used to describe the process of two students being supervised by a single practice educator.4"8 However, in the literature the terms peer-assisted,9,10 cooperative,11 collaborative,12 or collaborative group13 learning have at times also been used to describe the same phenomenon. For the purposes of this research, the term 2 ; 1 will be used throughout. The use of the 2:1 model has previously been explored in practicebased education, with specific reference to the capacity of placement provision, the quality of the student learning experience, and staff productivity (which includes clinicians' and students' time spent with patients, administration tasks, and teaching).

CAPACITY FOR PLACEMENT PROVISION

Many professions, particularly in the disciplines of allied health, have elected to explore the value of the 2:1 model as a result of increases in preregistration student numbers and therefore a greater need for clinical placements in health care settings.4 Assuming that a 1:1 model (one practice educatot and one student) is the noun, the 2:1 model certainly has been cited as a practical solution to the problem of placement capacity.1,4,6,10

THE STUDENT LEARNING EXPERIENCE

By placing students in a clinical setting togethet, they have the opportunity to learn cooperatively,1 thus enhancing the learning experience5,14 by facilitating development of theoretical knowledge and skills through interaction with colleagues and by improving communication15 and reflection skills16 and consequently clinical competence1,2 This argument is supported by the theory of social learning, which posits that people learn from observing others. …

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