Evaluation of the Early Impact of COVID-19 on Physiotherapy Clinical Placement Learning Models and Client Case-Mix


  • Andrea Helen Hams Griffith University
  • Taryn Lee Jones Griffith University




Clinical placements are fundamental to entry-level physiotherapy education and provide an opportunity for students to translate theory into practice within authentic clinical environments. Student success during clinical placement is a core requirement of physiotherapy programs and a critical component of the pathway to graduation, registration, and then employment. The registration of a physiotherapist confirms that as a student, they have met the profession’s rigorous accreditation requirements. COVID-19 has significantly disrupted physiotherapy clinical placements across Australia, with many placements postponed or cancelled in the early public health response. These placement disruptions may preclude students from demonstrating mandatory pre-registration accreditation requirements, ultimately reducing the number of eligible new-graduate physiotherapists. Creating sustainable clinical placements whilst upholding the professional standard of entry level graduates during the pandemic, calls for innovative solutions to monitor student placement experiences. A Clinical Portfolio was implemented to improve monitoring processes and enable dynamic responses to potentially altered student learning experiences as COVID-19 public health measures evolved. In doing so, the aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on physiotherapy student placements between May and June 2020 through examining client case-mix, demographics and learning model documented in each student’s Clinical Portfolio. These data sets allowed for comparison of learning model and case-mix during the pandemic with previous literature monitoring typical physiotherapy clinical placement experience, and providing support for ensuring the registration of the cohort impacted.  

Author Biographies

Andrea Helen Hams, Griffith University

Dr Andrea Hams (nee Miller) is a lecturer at Griffith University. Andrea has extensive experience in musculoskeletal outpatients and supports the learning and teaching goals in both the Master of Physiotherapy and Bachelor of Physiotherapy courses. Andrea has been involved with physiotherapy clinical education for the past 9 years working across each area of clinical practice with industry peers and students and is involved with clinical education research in collaboration with QUCEC (Queensland Universities Clinical Education Collaboration).

Taryn Lee Jones, Griffith University

Ms. Taryn Jones is a lecturer at Griffith University and Ph.D. candidate. Taryn has been involved in the clinical and academic delivery of clinical education for the past 6 years. She has worked with many students at Griffith University and the physiotherapy clinical educators that support them, within all of the core clinical areas. Taryn is involved with research projects evaluating student and clinical educator experiences of placements and establishing a current clinical practice for the development of the curriculum.


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How to Cite

Hams, A., & Jones, T. (2022). Evaluation of the Early Impact of COVID-19 on Physiotherapy Clinical Placement Learning Models and Client Case-Mix . International Journal of Practice-Based Learning in Health and Social Care, 10(1), 36–47. https://doi.org/10.18552/ijpblhsc.v10i1.726