Postgraduate clinical physiotherapy education in acute hospitals: a cohort study

Emma K Bastick, David O'Keeffe, Melanie K Farlie, Danielle T Ryan, Terry P. Haines, Nikki Katz, Jessica L Knight, Laura Keely, Kelly J Saber, Tamica R. Sturgess, Elizabeth H Skinner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Junior physiotherapists require satisfactory clinical skills to work effectively within the acute hospital setting for service quality and consistency. Objective: To investigate the effects of stream-specific clinical training on junior physiotherapist self-efficacy, self-rated confidence, and self-rated ability to work independently during weekend shifts. Design: Prospective cohort study. Participants: Eighteen junior physiotherapists. Methods: Physiotherapists undertook 8 h of stream-specific education in: pediatrics, women’s health, neuro-medical, musculoskeletal, cardiorespiratory, and critical care over 8 weeks. Learning objectives were evaluated using a self-efficacy (0–100) scale and self-rated confidence was measured with a 4-point Likert scale (not confident to independent). Self-rated ability to independently work weekend shifts was measured dichotomously (yes/no). Results: Participants completed an average of three stream-specific programs in the study period. Post-training, mean improvement in self-efficacy across objectives ranged from 2.9 (95% CI −8.7 to 14.5) to 43.3 (95% CI 4.8–81.8) points, p < 0.05 for 80% of objectives. Self-rated confidence scores improved for 45.6% of stream-specific learning objectives; 52.8% were unchanged and 1.7% reported a decrease in confidence. Self-rated ability to work stream-specific weekend shifts increased from 56–70%, but no stream achieved a significant increase in staff able to independently work weekend shifts (p range 0.10 to 1.0). Conclusions: A stream-specific education program increased junior physiotherapists’ self-efficacy and self-rated confidence but not perceived ability to work independently on weekends. Results were non-randomized and actual practice change was not assessed. Future studies could investigate different educational structures in a blinded, randomized manner on clinical practice change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-169
Number of pages13
JournalPhysiotherapy Theory and Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • clinical competence
  • Education
  • hospitals
  • physical therapists
  • physiotherapy
  • public

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