Contribution of Clinical Education in Developing Clinical Reasoning Skills of Undergraduate Physiotherapy Students in Preparation for Professional Practice in the United Arab Emirates

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
Clinical reasoning expertise determines the quality of patient care but the process by which clinicians achieve expertise in clinical reasoning is not well documented. Physiotherapists are becoming more and more accountable for their clinical decisions, actions and outcomes. This increase in autonomy and accountability for physiotherapists’ means there is more responsibility on the physiotherapy education settings to focus on development of clinical reasoning skills for physiotherapy graduates. The main purpose of this study was to explore the contribution of clinical education in developing clinical reasoning skills and professional practice readiness among undergraduate physiotherapy students. This research also aimed at finding the factors underlying effective clinical education and the factors affecting development of clinical reasoning skills in order to recommend an appropriate reasoning-based, clinical education model for the UAE context. Though there are several studies available on this phenomenon globally, extensive literature search couldn’t locate studies published locally within the UAE. Theoretical underpinning for this study was primarily drawn from the dual-process theory of clinical reasoning and the experiential learning theory. This study took mixed methods approach that followed the sequential explanatory research design to collect the data from 34 students and 26 clinical educators using questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. Quantitative data analysis showed no significant difference in students’ self-assessment of clinical reasoning. In-depth interviews were useful to explore the factors affecting the development of clinical reasoning and the factors underlying effective clinical education. Thematic analysis of the qualitative data collected identified several factors that were mainly intrinsic to the students’ such as the knowledge, skills and experience influencing the development of clinical reasoning skills apart from the effectiveness of clinical education. This study has several implications for undergraduate physiotherapy education, particularly to the clinical education aspects in the United Arab Emirates.
Health education -- Study and teaching., clinical reasoning skills, undergraduate physiotherapy students, United Arab Emirates (UAE), professional practice, physiotherapists