Open Access Research article

Characteristics of student preparedness for clinical learning: clinical educator perspectives using the Delphi approach

Lucinda S Chipchase13*, Peter J Buttrum2, Ruth Dunwoodie1, Anne E Hill1, Allison Mandrusiak1 and Monica Moran1

Author Affiliations

1 The University of Queensland, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Queensland, Australia

2 QE II Jubilee Hospital, Department of Physiotherapy, Queensland, Australia

3 The University of Queensland, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Brisbane, 4072, Australia

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BMC Medical Education 2012, 12:112  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-112

Published: 13 November 2012

Abstract

Background

During clinical placements, clinical educators facilitate student learning. Previous research has defined the skills, attitudes and practices that pertain to an ideal clinical educator. However, less attention has been paid to the role of student readiness in terms of foundational knowledge and attitudes at the commencement of practice education. Therefore, the aim of this study was to ascertain clinical educators’ views on the characteristics that they perceive demonstrate that a student is well prepared for clinical learning.

Methods

A two round on-line Delphi study was conducted. The first questionnaire was emailed to a total of 636 expert clinical educators from the disciplines of occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech pathology. Expert clinical educators were asked to describe the key characteristics that indicate a student is prepared for a clinical placement and ready to learn. Open-ended responses received from the first round were subject to a thematic analysis and resulted in six themes with 62 characteristics. In the second round, participants were asked to rate each characteristic on a 7 point Likert Scale.

Results

A total of 258 (40.56%) responded to the first round of the Delphi survey while 161 clinical educators completed the second (62.40% retention rate). Consensus was reached on 57 characteristics (six themes) using a cut off of greater than 70% positive respondents and an interquartile deviation IQD of equal or less than 1.

Conclusions

This study identified 57 characteristics (six themes) perceived by clinical educators as indicators of a student who is prepared and ready for clinical learning. A list of characteristics relating to behaviours has been compiled and could be provided to students to aid their preparation for clinical learning and to universities to incorporate within curricula. In addition, the list provides a platform for discussions by professional bodies about the role of placement education.

Keywords:
Delphi study; Clinical learning; Preparedness