While allied health students prefer face-to-face clinical placement, telehealth can support competency development: results from a mixed-methods study

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Bacon, Rachel, Hopkins, Sian, Georgousopoulou, Ekavi, Nahon, Irmina, Hilly, Catherine, Millar, CaraJane C ORCID: 0000-0002-5936-9908, Flynn, Allyson, Smillie, Linda, Chapman, Sarah and Brown, Nicholas (2023) While allied health students prefer face-to-face clinical placement, telehealth can support competency development: results from a mixed-methods study. Frontiers in Medicine, 10. ISSN 2296-858X


Introduction: Student clinical placements are a mandatory requirement within most accredited health programs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many health settings that had traditionally provided placements cancelled their offerings. Telehealth services however, increased and emerged as an alternative placement setting. Aim: To compare the learning experiences for allied health students provided by telehealth and face-to-face accredited health placements. Methods: Health students, from a university clinic between March to December 2020, delivering both face-to-face and telehealth consultations, were invited to complete a telephone survey with 3 demographic questions; and 10-items comparing their telehealth and face-to-face learning experiences. Pearson’s chi-squared/Fisher’s exact test was used to examine the association between each item and consultation setting. Qualitative survey data was thematically analysed using a descriptive approach. Results: 49 students from 2 universities and 5 disciplines completed the survey. Students rated their face-to-face experiences significantly higher than their telehealth experiences across all items (all p-values <0.01). Across 9 items students reported positive learning experiences in both settings. Students had greater opportunities to work in a multidisciplinary team in a face-to-face setting. Four themes were generated: (1) placements can vary in quality regardless of setting; (2) telehealth can provide valuable learning experiences and support competency development; (3) enablers for telehealth placements and (4) barriers for telehealth placements. Conclusion: While telehealth can support student learning and competency development, in this study students preferred face-to-face experiences. To optimise telehealth placements consideration needs to be given to barriers and enablers such as technological issues and university curricula preparation.

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Item type Article
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/47013
DOI 10.3389/fmed.2023.1151980
Official URL https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmed....
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4203 Health services and systems
Current > Division/Research > College of Health and Biomedicine
Keywords clinical placements, allied health students, telehealth, higher education
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