Shanmugam S1, Kempenaar L1, Gray H1
1Glasgow Caledonian University, Physiotherapy and Paramedicine, Glasgow, United Kingdom

Background: As physiotherapy practice has evolved, so too has the demand for strong evidence on which to base the profession. Barriers to embedding research in practice include: organisational culture; lack of time; and difficulty in evaluating and interpreting published research (Grimmer-Somers et al, 2007; Scurlock-Evans et al, 2014). Traditional Physiotherapy programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate levels address the challenges in establishing a professional evidence base. Although there has been some success in producing research output, time constraints within a busy curriculum have meant that the students' research skills have not been fully exploited. Furthermore, confidence in applying research skills in practice is often lacking. Partially due to financial pressures the engagement of qualified clinicians in doctoral study (Prof D, PhD) remains relatively low. The challenge remains to embed research skills in practice and generate a research culture within the wider body of the profession. To build research capacity and make an impact on practice, strong networks are needed between practitioners and academic staff.

Purpose: To design a Doctorate in Physiotherapy (DPT) programme with license to practice that integrates professional development and research skills training.

Methods: Using a partnership approach with relevant stakeholders, a co-production methodology was used to conceptualise, design, develop and implement a DPT programme.

Results: The first DPT programme in the UK that confers eligibility for state registration for license to practice and Chartered Society Physiotherapy chartered status was approved at Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland, UK. This programme integrates research, taught and practice-based elements across the programme. The curriculum balances training for researcher development as well as professional development. Due to an absence of a Professional Development Framework at doctoral level for pre-qualifying healthcare programmes, Vitae's Researcher Development Framework (2011) was adapted into a Professional Development Framework (PDF). This PDF was used in the design of the curriculum in terms of clarifying the knowledge, behaviours and attributes of physiotherapy professional practice development.
The professional and research development at doctoral level was based on theories of 'threshold-concepts' of Meyer and Land (2005, 2006) and 'conceptual-threshold-crossing' by Wisker et al (2008), which were integrated with Trafford and Lesham's (2009) components of 'doctorateness'. Through innovative assessment and teaching methods, DPT students develop the required competencies, not only in relation to their own development as researchers, but also within the context of workforce transformation in response to changing population, patient and service needs.

Conclusion(s): The process of designing and developing a DPT programme is challenging, e.g. fitting in the statutory 1,000 practice-learning hours whilst ensuring the academic credibility of doctoral education. Success factors included the use of a clear conceptual model in defining the scope of the programme and an approach that includes the needs of the profession.

Implications: A doctoral programme that integrates professional development and research skills will support and enable individuals' entry to the physiotherapy profession with ways that contribute to developing research capacity and capability within the physiotherapy workforce. It is envisaged that DPT programmes that addresses these issues will help create the innovative leaders needed to secure the future of the Physiotherapy profession.

Keywords: Doctorate in Physiotherapy, Workforce Capacity, Research Skills

Funding acknowledgements:None

Topic: Education; Education: methods of teaching & learning

Ethics approval required: No
Institution: Glasgow Caledonian University
Ethics committee: The School of Health and Life Sciences Ethics Committee
Reason not required: Routine design and development of an academic programme.

All authors, affiliations and abstracts have been published as submitted.

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