What is Physiotherapy Education?
Physiotherapy education refers to the education that prepares graduates for entry into the practice of Physiotherapy. The goal of Physiotherapy education is to graduate knowledgeable, service-oriented, and reflective practitioners. These graduates with their critical and rationalized thinking, lifelong learning, rendering independent and individualized needs of patient/client based on evidence based practice, promote the health of the client, and enhance professional development through collaborative work. This education is achieved through structured and varied experiences of different practical settings and application of essential knowledge and skills. To fulfill this goal, StEP has taken the first initiative with a clear vision for professional Physiotherapy education in India.
Physiotherapy Education in India
India is growing at a faster rate in the fields of science and technology along with its economic growth, which is projected to be the fastest growing economy in the world by end of this year. Economic development of any country is highly based on the higher education of that country. India has one of the largest higher education systems in the world with 99.54 lakhs students in 16,885 colleges. However, higher education system in India currently represents a great paradox. On one hand, Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) are considered among the best institutes in the world with about 85% of students securing jobs even before completing their degree. India has the third largest scientific and technical manpower in the world with about 40 research facilities across country. Similar development is seen in medical education with world renowned institutions like All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and Christian Medical College (CMC). However, on the other hand, even after more than 30 years since origin of Physiotherapy in India, Physiotherapy is trying to define its authority in the higher education and healthcare system of our country.
Further, for any profession, success, excellence, development, and future are based on the education provided to the individuals who will serve the profession in coming years. Number of Physiotherapists and Physiotherapy students is on the rise each year across India. Today, there are more than 25,000 Physiotherapy students in 174 IAP (Indian Association of Physiotherapy) recognized colleges and many more from non-IAP recognized colleges in India, who will become the next generation of Physiotherapy in India. Despite such large number of Physiotherapy students enrolling to colleges each year, very little is known about the Physiotherapy education of various colleges in India. One of the reasons for the slow development of Physiotherapy in India is the lack of statistical data on the Physiotherapy educational standards. Therefore, it is crucial to explore our Physiotherapy education and understand positives and negatives from student’s perspective to improve education standards of Physiotherapy across India.
Overview of Education Survey Study on Physiotherapy Curriculum
Standards of physiotherapy education or majority of today’s education in India is based on planned curriculum, which consists of the written curriculum or plans that have been predetermined years ago by the university/college/school. Further, when these curriculums are updated to increase standards, it is solely based on few higher authority individuals’ decision. Such approach solely based on planned curriculum has lead to downfall of many professions and one of them being our Physiotherapy profession. The more important and critical aspect of received curriculum, which means what individual student actually receives (learns), is not considered while defining the curriculum and its standards. Thus, to determine the true standards of any education (Physiotherapy in our case) then we need to evaluate both aspects: planned curriculum and the received curriculum.
Therefore, to define the true standards of Physiotherapy education in India, StEP Initiative decided to conduct the first nationwide Educational Survey Study on Physiotherapy Curriculum targeted to evaluate both types of curriculum: planned and received. Both types of curriculum will be evaluated based on the World Confederation of Physical Therapy (WCPT) entry-level education guidelines (2007). This study will help us explore ambiguities of Physiotherapy education standards in India by evaluating both types of curriculum as follows:
A) Planned Curriculum – Curriculum of each college/university of India providing Physiotherapy degree will be assessed based on WCPT entry level education guidelines
B) Received Curriculum – Students perspective will be captured by a national survey conducted on 3rd, 4th year students, internees and graduate physiotherapists from each college. This survey is structured based on WCPT guidelines.
Specific details about the progress of Educational Survey Study on Physiotherapy Curriculum will be summarized in this section soon.