Learning to be patient-centred healthcare professionals: how does it happen at university and on clinical placements? A multiple focus group study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Colleges, School and Institutes


Background: Developing patient-centred skills in health professional students relies on their learning experiences at the university and on clinical placements. It is not known what students perceive about their teaching on patient-centredness and their views to develop the curriculum in this aspect.

Methods: Multiple focus groups were conducted with students who had experienced a minimum of two clinical placements from Medicine, Physiotherapy, Nursing and Speech and language therapy programs. Thematic analysis was conducted independently by two researchers and then themes were compared and integrated.

Findings: Five focus groups with 26 participants with a mean age of 23.8 years contributed to 286 minutes of recorded data. The key findings were that their curriculum focussing on patient-centred skills used artificial methods and teaching focussed largely on biomedical aspects, but, shared modules and specialist training enabled learning. Longer and diverse placements with good role models to emulate, enabled learning. As strategies they suggested reflections and role-modelling were vital along with further interprofessional working, goal-setting and understanding of human psychology.

Conclusion: Though the study is limited by its generalisability, strategies suggested by students can be further developed by superimposing them on learning theories. These strategies need to be tested in future studies.


Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 26 Mar 2020


  • Clinical placement, Patient-centred attitudes, Curriculum;, healthcare students, Patient-centred skills

ASJC Scopus subject areas

Sustainable Development Goals