Preparedness for Practice: Physiotherapists View on an Undergraduate Programme in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

  •  Thayananthee Nadasan    
  •  Verusia Chetty    


Background: Community service physiotherapists need to be fit for clinical practice while addressing the evolving socio-cultural and economic health care challenges that face South African health systems. The introduction of community service for health care professions over a decade ago influenced education at tertiary institutions. The rhetoric remains as to the preparedness of physiotherapists for service delivery in a demanding primary health care setting.

Objectives: The study explored perceptions of preparedness of physiotherapists for clinical practice in their community service year.

Method: A qualitative approach using semi-structured interviews were used to understand perceptions of preparedness for community service by professional physiotherapists.

Results: Thirty nine physiotherapists who graduated at a University in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa were recruited using snowball sampling. Data was analysed using conventional content analysis and yielded four dominant themes i.e. (1) facilitators of preparedness for community service, (2) inhibitors to perceived preparedness for community service, (3) curriculum review and (4) personal impact of community service.

Conclusions: Although, physiotherapists believed that community service contributed to their confidence as professionals, graduates deemed that physiotherapy programmes need a curriculum that is geared toward specific South African needs such as primary health care. Physiotherapists also believed that the undergraduate curricula should address global health care needs to prepare the new generation of health care professionals for global significance.

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