Making the link between theory and practice
John University has developed a Model of Professional Thinking
(MPT) that integrates the skills that shape the way health
professionals think to ensure that allied health professionals have
the skills to deliver best practice.
Reflective practice and evidence-based
practice are generally seen as discrete subjects in health
education programmes and are usually taught separately. York St
John University is leading a project that aims to integrate these
skills into a Model of Professional Thinking (MPT).
Attracting interest from colleagues
internationally, the project is also encouraging the development of
further networking and research.
In 2009, Dr Katrina Bannigan, reader in
Occupational Therapy at York St John University, and Alis Moores, a
former senior lecturer at York St John, published a paper outlining
their thoughts on the need to support students to understand the
link between theory and practice. Appearing in the Canadian
Journal of Occupational Therapy, the paper proved to be the
journal’s most downloaded article in 2010, and was in the top five
in 2011. After reading the article, Debbie Pearson, senior lecturer
at the University worked in consultation with Dr Katrina Bannigan
to develop a template for the MPT that could be used by students to
help them during their placements.
Debbie Pearson said: “When we talk to students
about how they integrate theory and practice, they often find it
hard to articulate their experiences. I felt that the MPT gave a
fresh look at the issues. One of my students showed me her
notebook, which was full of thoughts about her placement but she
found it difficult to organise them into a useful resource. In
consultation with physiotherapists and occupational therapists in
the Faculty, we drew up the template which encourages students to
organise and reflect on their placement experiences, using the MPT
as a structure. The relationship between reflective practice and
evidence-based practice is overt within the model, and students are
reminded of a need to enquire, investigate and evaluate the
evidence as an integral part of their reflection.”
A seminar on the MPT introduced the template
at this year’s annual conference of the College of Occupational
Therapists in Glasgow. This was an opportunity to launch the MPT
website, which includes a downloadable version of the template.
“Around 30 delegates attended our seminar,” explained Debbie, “and
as well as colleagues and students from universities and services
in the UK, we also attracted people from Australia and New Zealand.
The discussion took off and many of the participants are
introducing the MPT to their own colleagues back home.”
A group of Level 3 Physiotherapy and
Occupational Therapy students at York St John will work as
co-researchers with Katrina and Debbie to evaluate the use of the
MPT as part of their dissertation module during the next semester.
“We will reflect on their findings,” said Debbie, “as well as the
evaluations received from our international colleagues. We will
continue to develop the MPT as it has so much potential for our
students, as well as other allied health professionals and their
work in health and social care settings.”