Physiotherapy Student's Perceptions of the Ideal Clinical Educator

Alexanders, Jenny, Chesterton, Paul, Gordon, Anthony, Alexander, Jill orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-6492-1621 and Reynolds, Claire (2020) Physiotherapy Student's Perceptions of the Ideal Clinical Educator. MedEdPublish .

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The skills and qualities of the clinical educator are clearly embedded within the literature. The interactions between the educator and student throughout the placement journey are an important component of the student’s experience. Although clinical educator roles and interactions with students have been studied in physiotherapy, determining the perceived ideal clinical educator through the lens of the student remained under analysed. The aim of this study was to explore physiotherapy student’s perceptions of the ideal clinical educator.

The study involved 16 physiotherapy final year students using two focus groups. An inductive approach using thematic analysis was employed to gain data rich cases.

The results revealed 3 main themes, which were educator role, placement experiences and ideal clinical educator. The importance of communication skills, knowledge and being approachable were central to the students perceived ideal clinical educator. Paradoxically, it is not a mandatory requirement for physiotherapists to undertake practice education training, therefore the study revealed that pedagogical practices were not being employed consistently such as structured feedback and methods of assessment.

This study highlighted the importance of providing clinical educators with the relevant pedagogical theory to ensure that the approach in which students are mentored through their placements are more consistent. Equipping clinical educators with the underlying principles of teaching and learning strategies may improve student self-efficacy, rapport and the learning experience.

Future research examining the link universities have with their local placement providers may help bridge the knowledge gaps of physiotherapists who are not formally trained in practice education as opposed to having to attend out of work conventional practice educator courses. In addition curriculum consideration in relation to how students are prepared for placements e.g. resilience strategies may help reduce negative learning experiences

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