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    Future-proofing the profession: physiotherapists’ perceptions of their current and emerging role

    Hartley, Sandra Elaine, Ryad, Hanane and Yeowell, Gillian ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3872-9799 (2023) Future-proofing the profession: physiotherapists’ perceptions of their current and emerging role. Physiotherapy, 119. pp. 72-79. ISSN 0031-9406

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    Abstract

    Objectives As healthcare systems continue to modernise, physiotherapists are required to transform their practice to remain contemporary and meet future population needs. The study aims to gain an insight into physiotherapists’ perceptions of their current and emerging future role. The intention is to develop an understanding of the physiotherapist’s role and how it can continue to evolve to support populations’ needs in more sustainable and innovative ways. Design A qualitative design using semi-structured interviews was undertaken informed by Gadamerian hermeneutic philosophy. Participants Participants were gained from a postgraduate physiotherapy programme in Northwest England that recruits physiotherapists from across the UK; via the research teams’ professional networks and using snowball sampling. Interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis was undertaken. Ethical approval and informed consent was obtained. Results 23 participants (15 female). 4 themes were identified: ‘An underpinning philosophy of practice’ that promotes holistic care and supports patient wellbeing. An ‘evolving role broadening the scope of practice’ with many ‘agents of change shaping the profession’. When ‘preparing the future workforce and their transition into practice’, graduates were seen as more adaptable and resilient. However, more affiliation between the university and placement providers to enhance learning environments is needed. Conclusions Physiotherapists need to re-evaluate their role so a clear vision for the future can be co-created to ensure they remain contemporary and continue to optimise their potential. An emerging role that re-envisages a holistic approach that incorporates health promotion as fundamental to this role could support physiotherapists’ transformation in practice.

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