Original Research

Recommendations of behavioural facilitators for success in a physiotherapy clinical practice module: Successful students’ perspectives

Liezel Ennion, Danelle Hess
South African Journal of Physiotherapy | Vol 76, No 1 | a1392 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajp.v76i1.1392 | © 2020 Liezel Ennion, Danelle Hess | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 September 2019 | Published: 26 March 2020

About the author(s)

Liezel Ennion, Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Community & Health Science, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
Danelle Hess, Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Community & Health Science, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa

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Background: Students struggle to bridge the gap between theory and application thereof in clinical settings. Exploring the behaviours of students who have been shown to be successful in the clinical practice module of physiotherapy could provide an insight into what facilitated their success. Sharing this information with other students could assist with decreasing anxiety and improving student success.

Objectives: The objective of this study was to explore behaviours that facilitate student success in a physiotherapy clinical practice module from the perspective of high-achieving students.

Method: Data were collected at the University of the Western Cape’s physiotherapy department in South Africa. Ten students with the highest marks in clinical practice from the 2016 and 2017 final-year cohorts were purposively selected and invited to participate in two different Nominal Group Technique (NGT) discussions. In total, 14 students consented to participate in the study. A demographic and socio-economic status questionnaire and an NGT discussion were used to collect data. Participants analysed the NGT discussion data themselves by ranking facilitators in order of priority.

Results: Doing pre-block preparation, self-reflection and having a good rapport with patients as well as personal motivation and coping strategies were identified as the most important behavioural facilitators for physiotherapy students’ success in a clinical practice module.

Conclusion: Clinical practice is considered to be the most stressful module for undergraduate physiotherapy students. Considering this, recommendations from previously successful students could contribute towards the success of present and future students and in decreasing the stress associated with clinical practice.

Clinical implications: Recommendations from students on behavioural facilitators that enabled them to be successful in a physiotherapy clinical practice module can assist future students entering clinical practice to be successful in this stressful module. This information is also useful for clinical educators to assist students who struggle, and to recommend potential changes or improvements to the current physiotherapy clinical practice module.


physiotherapy; clinical education; student success; behavioural facilitators


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