Resilience, professionalism, and reflective thinking: The three-legged stool of health professional and teacher education students’ fieldwork practice

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Fieldwork is a core element of health professional and education student training that is often a professional registration and practice requirement. There are many personal, social, and professional factors that impact on students’ fieldwork performance. The impact of professionalism, resilience, and reflective thinking on fieldwork performance is not well described in the literature.
To examine the relationship between health professional and teacher education university students’ perceptions of professionalism, resilience, reflective thinking and their links to fieldwork performance.
Ten focus group interviews were conducted with university undergraduate or master's students across four disciplines: occupational therapy (n = 18), pharmacy (n = 6), social work (n = 38), and education (n = 16). Thematic analysis was used to identify codes and categories in focus group transcripts. Commonalities of ideas and constructs were identified and interpreted to create meaningful themes.
Six themes were identified. Fieldwork placement created real-world opportunities for developing technical and nontechnical skills, professional acclimatization, psychosocial traits, and behaviors for coping with the transition from student to proto-professional. However, these outcomes had consequences related to bridging the gap between university course theory and the reality of the workplace, adapting to cultural differences and local practice as well as seeking their own resources, supports, and learning.
Despite the personal, professional, and practical challenges of fieldwork, students independently establish mental models of professionalism, resilience, and reflective thinking, which support their fieldwork performance. However, developing these mental models should be underpinned by theory, and coordinated university and industry supports should be provided to augment this process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-111
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Health Professions
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

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