Developing professionalism in physiotherapy and dietetics students in professional entry courses

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Publication details

Grace, S & Trede, F 2013, 'Developing professionalism in physiotherapy and dietetics students in professional entry courses', Studies in Higher Education, vol. 38, no. 6, pp. 793-806.

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In a context of education focused on skill mastery and graduate-level competence in preparation for professional practice, the notion of professionalism could be reduced to measurable and rules-based concepts, and the values, ethical decision making and professional autonomy that underpin it could be overlooked. Using a blend of hermeneutic phenomenology and discourse analysis, this article explores how professionalism is understood, talked about and experienced by lecturers and students in physiotherapy and dietetics courses at an Australian university. The findings of the study highlight the complex and evolving nature of professionalism. Understandings of professionalism appeared to be influenced by opportunities to think about and discuss values that inform them. Moreover, issues like cultural competence and environmental sustainability were not part of participants' understandings of professionalism, suggesting a need to rethink philosophical approaches and pedagogical strategies to develop a notion of professionalism that adequately prepares students for the demands of contemporary professional practice.

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