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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 34(3)

Returning to physiotherapy practice: the perspective of returners, potential returners and clinical supervisors

Lorraine Sheppard A B C, Michael Crowe A, Anne Jones A, Robyn Adams A

A Department of Physiotherapy, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4814, Australia.
B School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia.
C Corresponding author. Email: lorraine.sheppard@jcu.edu.au
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The experience of returning to physiotherapy practice needs to be understood from the perspective of those who have returned to practice, those thinking of returning, and clinical supervisors who have worked with people that have returned to practice. A qualitative methodology using an interpretivist theoretical framework was utilised. Participants were selected using a combination of purposive and snowballing sampling techniques. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to determine the opinions of participants on returning to physiotherapy. Maternity and child-care were the main reason returners and potential returners took a break from physiotherapy. The main reason for returning to physiotherapy was because the returner wanted to rather than external factors such as financial hardship. Overall, the experience of returning to physiotherapy has been rewarding for returners and clinical supervisors. Returners and potential returners were highly motivated, keen to learn, and are willing to undertake a period of training to help them return to practice. However, there is only one programme available for returners to re-register as a physiotherapist and no refresher programmes are available. Returners, potential returners, and clinical supervisors thought that a structured re-registration or re-entry programme would need to be flexible to allow for returners’ current needs, commitments, and career directions.

What is known about the topic? In nursing, reasons for returning to the profession are change in family circumstance, financial necessity or wishing to use their skills again. Little is known of the circumstances for other health professionals.

What does this paper add? Return to physiotherapy was driven by personal motivation rather than financial hardship. Returners are highly motivated, keen to learn, and are willing to undertake a period of training to help them return to practice.

What are the implications for practitioners? Flexible methods to enable return to practice are needed. Time away from practice needs to be managed to enable seamless returns, facilitating workforce strategies.

Keywords: re-entry, re-registration, refresher, retraining, workforce.

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