How physiotherapy graduates estimate physiotherapy curriculum and if the studies has affected their preparedness to work as professional physiotherapist
Keywords: physiotherapy curriculum, higher education
AbstractPhysiotherapy as an independent curriculum has existed only one decade in Estonia. During this period the curriculum has changed and developed remarkably due to the Bologna Process. Specific feedback about the curriculum from the students who have graduated has not been received. Thus, the aim of the study was to estimate how the physiotherapy students who have graduated from University of Tartu assess the physiotherapy curriculum (theoretical knowledge, practical skills and generic competences). Altogether twenty-nine former students (females=25; males=4) participated in this study. All the participants filled in an anonymous questionnaire. Most of them graduated from the University of Tartu in 2010. 82.2% of the participants had gained Bachelorʼs and 17.8% Masterʼs Degrees. Approximately 80% of the participants work as physical therapists, mostly in hospitals (37.9%). According to the participants the strengths of the curriculum are: highly qualified professionals are included in the study process; lecturers are also professional physical therapists; strong theoretical basis and versatile practical trainings in school and in clinical environment; modern practical training placements all over Estonia. Weaknesses of the curriculum are as follows: basic subjects are sometimes superficial and there is a lack of specialization (due to lack of time in the three-year study program); lack of external lecturers; connection between theory and practice is not always sufficient. In spite of this fact that the curriculum offers basic knowledge, practical skills and generic competences (communication skills, team work, sense of duty), the study period is still too short to provide in-depth theoretical knowledge and diverse professional skills. Therefore, there is a need to study more independently during the study process and after graduation (in-service training). It was revealed that some suggestions made by graduates have already been implemented in the course of the recent three years. It means the developments of the curriculum have been adequate and have supported the focus groups' expectations. In conclusion, 180 ECTS are not enough to offer in-depth specialized knowledge and practical skills. According to this result, there is a great need to study further on Master level and/or continue training – lifelong learning.