Working with Dutch Physiotherapy students in a first year module: Hanze University Trip

Heather Longbottom (BSc Hons Physiotherapy) and lecturer Larissa Kempenaar travelled to the Netherlands to meet with the Physiotherapy staff and students at Hanze University in Groningen. This is Heather’s account of the trip.

“When stepping out of the train station into Groningen the first thing you notice is bikes! Bikes are everywhere; you soon learn that you don’t look for cars when crossing roads but bikes instead! Bikes are nearly everyone’s main form of transport as the Netherlands are so flat and it’s a lot quicker to cycle than go by car or bus. From a physiotherapist’s perspective, this a really great thing to see and encourage as without realising many people are doing physical activity every day. This is the biggest contrast I observed when comparing the Netherlands to Scotland. The geography of the Scottish landscape plays a huge part in why so few people cycle on a daily basis because it is neither time efficient nor appealing to many people. Also, Scotland’s climate is less favourable for cycling in comparison to the Netherlands (where the temperature rarely goes below 3°). However, in some more major cities such as Glasgow or Edinburgh there may be more people who could easily incorporate cycling as an alternative mode of transport.

The majority of the students attending Hanze University of Applied Science use bikes to get to class – evident by the number of bikes outside the university buildings.

When arriving at the university it is also apparent that there is no physiotherapy dress code; rather than wearing leggings or navy trousers and a polo shirt like we do at GCU, both students and tutors wear casual clothing. After spending some time attending class and meeting both teachers and students I felt the lack of standard attire did not alter the professionalism they put across.

Whilst visiting the university I attended a practical first year physiotherapy class covering proprioception, which for my benefit was led in both Dutch and English. I also went to an international first year class (led in English) on massage. It was interesting to see the similar teaching style and set up –  a tutor at the front initially demonstrating a test followed by students in pairs at plinths mirroring the test and asking any questions they had.

Throughout my time in Groningen I was paired with a 1st year physiotherapist to welcome me and show me around, this was a really good experience as it enabled me to ask questions about their course and learn how they felt about their course from a student’s perspective. I learned there were some similarities such as using online blackboard for communicating to students, but also many differences, such as: their timetables changing every week, their academic year is a lot longer than ours and is split into 4, with more shorter holidays, when compared to GCU’s 2 semesters. In Scotland, we have 7 placements but at Hanze they only get 3 placements – however they are about 4 months each! In addition, due to the lack of the NHS in the Netherlands, Health Care is mostly private, therefore it is quite common to get all 3 placements in a private setting.

I really appreciated the opportunity to get a glimpse of a physiotherapy course in another country and found it interesting to see some of the similarities and differences. I also enjoyed the chance to learn more about the culture and lifestyle in the Netherlands, through both chatting to the physiotherapy students and being shown round some of the sights of Groningen by my buddy.”







Health Promotion with the elderly at the Glasgow Mosque

As part of the Health Promotion module on the MSc Physiotherapy pre-registration programme, some of our students visited the Glasgow Mosque in February to start working with a group of elderly women who come to the Mosque for day care to get a meal, social contact and to do activities. We were approached by the Mosque last year to find out if our students could develop some activities for this group.

This is a reflection written by the group on their experience of going into the Mosque to meet the women.

“When we initially found out that we were going to the mosque, we had mixed feelings on the idea as we were the only group who were unable to ‘bid’ for their desired community group.

However, this gave us a head start on our background research which we were keen to begin as our knowledge surrounding the community was limited. As time moved on, our nerves kicked in with fear of the unknown as we had never been immersed within the Muslim community, and it was the first time the university were working with this group, meaning we knew little about the situation. Thus, being coupled with the fact that they potentially spoke minimal English, we decided to attend an open day. We went on a tour of the mosque, which gave us a chance to view the prayer rooms and talk to some of the members, which was extremely interesting.

On route to the mosque on the day of the meeting with baked goods in hand, anxiety levels were still high. There had been a lot of backward and forward as to the age group we were dealing with, which was unknown. We had a presentation with information and questions that we knew could only be a guideline as we had no idea what to expect during the meeting. However, any lingering anxiety lifted almost instantaneously upon arrival to the group of women.

The women were very welcoming, and very willing to interact with us throughout. At first, they were struggling to understand us, however this was promptly acted on and as a result we were engaging effectively in an informal sense, whilst still collating the necessary information. Having attained background information helped, and as we got to know each other we moved closer to them as a group for a more intimate chat. They were very enthusiastic at how much we wanted to learn from them, and the idea that we could effectively help them too.

We feel strongly that they are looking forward to us coming back. Going forward, we are all equally excited to return to the mosque and work with them further in helping them produce a program that can hopefully be used long after completion of our module.

Having been taken out of our comfort zone and challenged to approach and communicate with a new community, and do so successfully, has given us a new confidence. It has also allowed us to build on our current skillset including adaptability, a skill that we can take forward through our physiotherapy careers.”

Katie, Julia, Kaylie, Kelly and Amy


Health Promotion in real world settings: Meeting the stakeholders

Some exciting developments are happening within the MSc Physiotherapy pre-reg programme. This programme allows students with a relevant previous degree to train as physiotherapists in a 2-year taught programme. One of the first modules the students undertake is the Health Promotion module. The aim of this module is for students to understand the role of physiotherapists as agents for health promotion. In addition, they have the opportunity to carry out a health promotion session with members of the public with 3 different organisations. These organisations include the Glasgow Science Centre, ROAR Active for Life, and People Services at Glasgow Caledonian University (the external stakeholders).

Today we all met as a group for the first time to discuss the marking and assessment of the module. Invited were students who took part in the module last year, staff from GSC, ROAR and People Services and the module team. While development of modules is usually done by module teams, this module uses an engagement-through-partnership approach (Higher Education Academy, 2014). This means that we aim to have partnership between students, lecturers and stakeholders at various stages of teaching. This can be during the module when students work in groups, but also at the development stage, as we did today.

The meeting provided an opportunity to explain assessment procedures from a university perspective, but also meant that stakeholders could ask questions about the students’ involvement. The students shared their experiences from last year and for suggestions how assessment could be done better this year.

As we only had one hour, we got through a limited amount of the assessment. The assessment is a continuous summative assessment of the stages of project management. The component discussed today was the ‘scoping stage’. The main point that came out of the discussion was how important it is that we all understand the language of the assessment. For example, what it means when students must use demographic data to assess the needs of the target audience. While I didn’t question what this meant from an academic perspective, it should be clear to all involved what this means. We will therefore include definitions and descriptions about what we understand each term on the assessment form to mean.

Likewise, we agreed that the 3 sites will provide students with information about their organisations and their activities in the context of health promotion. This will help students to understand what the organisation is about. This also means they can ask more focussed questions in the scoping meeting with the organisation.

Best part of the meeting for me was having everyone in the room and having the opportunity to find out what the people around the table think of our ideas and jointly coming up with better ways of doing the assessment. It’s what I like about partnership working!