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Point of view

What is it like to be a patient in the health system? This project asks students to consider the world from the point of view of a patient rather than a clinician, opening up possibilities for them to consider alternative perspectives on practice.

There is increasing evidence that undergraduate students benefit from exposure to learning in a variety of different contexts. This is especially true in health professions education, where students are starting to learn about human interaction, communication, and the development of empathy as it relates to patient management. This assignment aims to provide students with an opportunity to think carefully about physiotherapy practice in their own context and how it may have influenced their thinking around patient management. As part of this assignment students engage with students from other countries, and we hope this different interaction will provide them with opportunities for deeper and more reflective thinking about their own patients and communities.

Project coordinators:

  • Tone Dahl-Michelson (Oslo Metropolitan University – formerly Oslo and Akershus University of Applied Sciences, Norway)
  • Michael Rowe (University of the Western Cape, South Africa)
  • Rafael Pinto, Daniela Vaz & Renan Resende (Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil)

Ask  students what they think it would be like to be a patient in the national health system. This question would have the following benefits:

  • It helps students to see the system from another perspective i.e. a patient, rather than a clinician (maybe develops empathy).
  • It may help them to think more carefully about their own practice when relating to such patients (and this would address the outcome you suggested i.e. how can the therapist facilitate user involvement).
  • We could ask them to take photos of “the patient’s point of view”, which is ambiguous enough that it could be a literal point of view e.g. what the patient actually sees, or a metaphorical point of view e.g. the system as a depressing, hopeless space.
  • They would need to do some basic research on the local health system, and the patient’s experience of that system.
  • They would need to ask themselves what their role is, with respect to engaging with the point of view of the patient.

Instructions to students

  1. Take 3-5 photos of the “patient’s point of view”, trying to capture what it might be like to be that patient, taking into account the people, places and things that might influence their perspective on the world.
  2. In small groups, discuss the ideas you’re trying to capture in the pictures you took. What are the main thoughts you were having when you took the pictures? What message are you trying to send? What is the point of view you’re trying to capture?
  3. Choose one photo that best represents the message you’re trying to convey.
  4. Write a short (half a page) personal reflection on the picture, what it means, and why you chose it. Include a short component on what it might mean for patients in that community, in terms of the health services they access and how they might experience physiotherapy in that context.
  5. Add a short (half a page) “academic” section that brings “the evidence” into the piece, where you try to support your personal reflections with the literature.
  6. Share your pieces with students from another university, using Google Docs. You will receive feedback on your pieces from other students and you will also give feedback to the pieces you receive. Your lecturer will provide guidance on this process.
  7. Use the feedback to make further adjustments to your writing.
  8. We will have a seminar in class after the final submission where you will work in small groups to discuss the assignment, together with the international component, and how you feel it influenced your thinking on patients, and physiotherapy practice in other contexts. During the seminar, each group will write a short reflection on the process.


Examples of student work

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