Factors influencing students’ views regarding competency in dysphagia
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Background: Following a recent update to RCSLT dysphagia training guidelines and the introduction of a new dysphagia competency framework (RCSLT, 2014), there is still no clarity on whether speech and language therapy (SLT) students feel they can demonstrate their skill set with greater ease, and have greater competency. Aims: To assess and investigate the factors influencing views of SLT students regarding their competency in Dysphagia, including their views of training, placement experiences and competency. The overall aim was to look for any patterns within the students that may be of benefit when developing future guidelines and or curriculum. Methods and Procedures: Two focus groups were carried out at a higher education institute (HEI) with 6 SLT students in the first group and 9 SLT students in the second group. Each focus group lasted approximately one hour and focused on students at the start of their final year of training. Outcomes and Results: The study identified several areas of consensus. Students reported to receive restricted opportunities on placement, which was detrimental to their developing competence in dysphagia. Students valued hands-on experience and believed this was important to develop clinical skills, yet they felt placement educators were limiting their opportunities to be hands-on with patients. Students varied in their levels of confidence resulting from mixed experiences on placement. There was a consensus that dysphagia is complex, with a strong emphasis on the need for increased support. It was agreed that modifications could also be made to the academic curriculum, with students suggesting that examination would be better placed in the clinical setting. All students valued opportunities for future training and practice, and believed it was necessary to develop their skills and competence in dysphagia. Conclusions and Implications: Recommendations for future research was discussed, with a focus on the need to investigate the reasons for PEs restricting opportunities on placement. Students agreed that opportunities for further hands on experience should be an integral part of future guidelines. In addition, student support and welfare was seen to be lacking within academic programmes at present, therefore newer strategies need to be implemented to tackle this issue.
B.Sc. (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy
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