Clinical supervisors’ perceptions of podiatry students’ preparedness for clinical placement and graduates’ preparedness for podiatry practice in Australia: An exploratory study

Katrina Reynolds, Michelle McLean


Introduction: Little is known about Australian podiatry students’ preparedness for clinical placement and graduates’ preparedness for clinical practice. This qualitative study explored clinical supervisors’ perceptions of podiatry students’ and graduates’ preparedness-related challenges and their recommendations for improvement.

Methods: Eleven registered podiatrists who had supervised or were still supervising students were interviewed. Transcribed interviews were thematically analysed. Benner’s (1984) stages of clinical competence from novice to expert informed the study.

Results: Clinical supervisors were divided about students’ preparedness for clinical placements, with their perceptions ranging from generally prepared (n = 2) to unsure (n = 5) to unprepared (n = 4). They commented on junior versus senior students, institutional differences and specific clinical skill deficiencies, e.g., scalpel debridement and patient communication skills. Perceived challenges for students on placement included poorly developed clinical skills and low self-efficacy, both stemming primarily from insufficient hands-on experience. Participants suggested that for improved placement preparedness, students required better quality clinical experiences and communication skills training. Being work-ready, which most graduating Australian podiatrists were reported to be, involved being safe and self-efficacious. Participants also suggested that a supportive clinical environment, an internship and more advanced interpersonal skills would facilitate preparedness. 

Conclusion: In terms of Benner’s (1984) framework, during training, podiatry students should be considered novices, and they should be considered advanced beginners on graduation. An entry-level graduate should not be expected to be competent across all areas of clinical practice. Hands-on clinical practice during placements was needed for moving successfully through Benner’s (1984) stages of clinical competence. While clinical supervisors believed that podiatry training generally prepared students for clinical practice immediately following graduation, they asserted that manual clinical and communication skills improvement is required for clinical placements.


competence; self-efficacy; practical clinical skills; communication skills

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