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Teachers required to have a PHD - have we got it all wrong

Discussion in 'Teaching and Learning' started by mike weber, Oct 15, 2012.

  1. 3rd_Lumbrical

    3rd_Lumbrical Member

    That is quite a bit off the mark. Most PhD students attend a graduate school for tailor made courses on research methods, being an effective researcher, ethics & good clinical practice, statistical methods, communication, writing for publication, time management, project management, being an effective leader and more.

    They are also mentored closely by hand picked leaders in the field who deliver in-house teaching on specific (and often advanced) techniques related to the research projects being conducted. Students are routinely required to submit written work and deliver presentations. They are also required to mentor newer PhD students starting as their own PhD experience progresses. Furthermore, many are expected to undertake several hours a week of teaching/clinical tutoring without any extra pay, and deliver presentations regularly at team meetings and school seminars.

    A PhD is never 1 project either. If you are writing a thesis by publication you could have 5 or 6 or even more separate studies in areas ranging from protocol development/piloting, diagnostics/examination methods, and qualitative research to intervention studies/experiments. If you are writing a traditional thesis, chances are you will still undertake 3 or 4 separate diverse components which are inter-related by an underlying theme.

    If you think that education, training, study and scholarship do not lead to improvements to an individual's skills set then we might as well all down tools now. I have agreed with the points being made that there are good researchers who don't have PhDs. I also (to an extent) agreed that the PhD doesn't necessarily make a good clinician, although this does not mean that they are poor clinicians either.

    However, saying that undertaking a PhD does not make you better at anything is simply not true. It might not make someone better than someone else, but it significantly improves the skill set of the individual compared to when that same individual started out on day 1. That is a fact which every person with a PhD, every person in academia, and every person who knows what a PhD involves would agree with. It just so happens that this skills set currently appears to be closely aligned with academic teaching/research position descriptions.
  2. 3rd_Lumbrical

    3rd_Lumbrical Member

    Two excellent points Paul. For the first one it really depends upon what your key performance indicators would be for an academic. There are publication and funding targets definitely. But at my current institution everyone is accountable for their teaching/clinical tutoring standards too through student feedback. These surveys are compiled and reviewed 6 annually by line managers, and its not just a tick box exercise I can assure you. If it is the end product i.e. the quality of student being nurtured then I would say that there is room for improvement (but there always is!). I think in every health science degree and medicine the new graduates first 1 or 2 years in the field following qualification are key for shaping their clinical skills and expertise. Perhaps that is where the problem lies. Perhaps they should be entering professional clinical practice on day one with better clinical skills than those who have been practicing for a number of years already.

    The residency system is an intresting idea but would likely be massively difficult to implement. Currently there are not enough adequate external placements for health science students across Australia/UK, and it would take some major changes to make it compulsory for qualified pods to take on newly graduated resident pods. If it could be implemented, it would be an excellent move in my opinion. I imagine it would be met with some resistance from many practitioners though unless there were some incentives more attractive than just CPD. Incidentally, have you heard anything? Is it (the residency system) on some agenda somewhere to be discussed in future?
  3. Rob Kidd

    Rob Kidd Well-Known Member

    When I was a PhD student 25 years ago, almost none of the above applied to me. After a very informal interview, we did coffee on the Swan River in West Australia, and then I was left in the library to start reading. I read, thought about a subject, and its questions, read more and found the answers. I kept reading, getting deeper and deeper into a subject and its questions until I could not find the answers: that became the project. I wrote a protocol - no ethics clearance since all my sbjects had been dead for at least 100 years - and wrote grant applications to cover the travel funding require - essentially three 'round the world tickets.

    I then, defined my bony linear dimensions, tested them in a biologically meaningful manner (two way analysis of variance without replication), and perhaps most importantly presented a seminar to the the department of anatomy so as to expose myself to the brains of the department. Having altered things slightly in light of the questions received during the seminar, I set off collecting data in Hong Kong, South Africa, Washington DC, London and Kent (UK) and Denver Colorado. The end result was three studies (Chapters 3-5): the human variation study, the hominoid variation study, and the fossil study. Chapters 1 & 2 were review, and materials and methods, and chapter 6 was the conclusions. Four years and 529 pages later, there it was

    The point was that I drove it, with their help. They did not drive me. Who wrote the stats analysis programs for SAS? Me, Who decided which stats tests answered my questions? Me. I did not attend any courses on anything; whatever skills that were required either came from the undergraduate degree (which I have in addition to podiatry), or one took a side road in order to find out about it. For instance, at one point, my supervisor said to me: " you need to read "numerical taxonomy from front to back, don't come back until to have" (N.T was the bench mark in biological quantitative methods at the time). To me it was an incredibly enlighning experience - and like all education, it brought about a permanent change in behaviour. In the university sector, a PhD is the driving licence, it is not the pinnacle of your career, it is the start. Rob
  4. Paul Bowles

    Paul Bowles Well-Known Member

    I'm not so sure it would be. It just depends - I know I was involved in drawing up some scope for this some years ago, it mainly involved public health/high risk. It also addressed the clinical placement issue (this is why it was preliminarily investigated) and it was generally a sound concept.

    I have no idea about other health sciences, but Podiatry specific I believe it is possible due to our scope of practice and numbers.

    Agreed - the biggest hurdle would be some backwards facing practitioners living in the ice ages. It would also require Podiatrists to stand up and walk the walk with regards to medical knowledge and output - unfortunately not many can or do in this day and age.

    Not that I am aware of - it was an old paradigm which had been shelved. I'm not involved at a political level in Podiatry anymore.
  5. Paul Bowles

    Paul Bowles Well-Known Member

    ...or the end depending on how you look at it or who you are! :D Oh i am way too humerous at this time of the morning, I need coffee!!! :dizzy:
  6. Heather J Bassett

    Heather J Bassett Well-Known Member

    Tis late.... and has been a hard week for many but are not clinical sessions supervised here in Aus by students. Eg 4th year supervise 3rd year??
    Within Uni, CHC and hospital places the diversity and severity of client load is very limited!
    The real world comes as quite a shock to many!?!
    Do I have a PHD? No! Do I have a Degree? No! Does my Team of new Grad's learn from my mentoring? Yes (In most cases) Would I love to be involved in research? Yes. Am I? Yes I make regular donations to support those with PHDs'. Do I get ANY recognition for this? NO.
    Interesting world aint it? :)
    Have a great weekend all.

    Warm regards

  7. Sarah B

    Sarah B Active Member

    The position advertised doesn't actually require the post-holder to spend a significant amount of time conducting clinical education of students. For that, the University employs experienced clinicians, people with a strong clinical background and who maintain a current ongoing clinical caseload. As far as I'm aware, that's the model that is in use by podiatry education institutions in Australia and the UK.

    The reality for Australian universities is that we are moving towards a greater emphasis on research, which may be in our own discipline, or it may be focused towards identifying effective education strategies. Regardless, the expectation of academics is that we are employed to deliver both education and research output.

    Whilst I'm not convinced that a PhD will make a poor clinician great, I do not for one moment believe that completion of a research higher degree and clinical aptitude are mutually exclusive; any more than I am willing to believe that a PhD will somehow reduce a clinician's capacity to perform clinical skills appropriately and effectively. What I do believe is that the sensible and intelligent person will take the things they learn in one environment and transfer, adapt and utilise them in other areas. In that way, having a PhD could benefit a person's practice, it could help them to side-step into other areas of work, but that all comes down to what a person is interested in and how they choose to use their experience.
  8. Paul Bowles

    Paul Bowles Well-Known Member

    All good on paper, but in reality the only way most people are going to do a PhD is within an institution, on a scholarship/funded. Not always the case and I do take your point and agree with it.

    The real life stats could be seen by how many clinical Podiatrists actually have PhD's? I would argue most are majority if not full time academics with very little clinical exposure at all outside clinical research. There is a healthy trend that this may be changing though - time will tell.
  9. Tuckersm

    Tuckersm Well-Known Member


    There are at least 2 Podiatrists with PhDs working predominantly clinically in Victoria, so the trend is slowly changing. Both of these podiatrists obtained their PhDs through Medical Schools rather than podiatry schools, so the trend is slowly changing. There are an increasing number of Physios, OTs, Speechies etc working clinically as well. when/if the clinical school concept is properly rolled out, you could see this increasing further.
  10. Paul Bowles

    Paul Bowles Well-Known Member

    Agreed it is slowly moving - but that number represents 0.01% of the Podiatry population in Australia - better than 0%!

  11. Rob Kidd

    Rob Kidd Well-Known Member

    Mike you miss the point - but then, you were not there for the point, were you? Rob
  12. Paul Bowles

    Paul Bowles Well-Known Member

    As an interesting adjunct to this discussion I believe UNSW Medical School in Sydney has changed their medical degree from an MBBS to an MD qualification. Times are a changing. Now who is going to be the first Podiatry School to go after a DPM qualification? C'mon you academics - I dare you!!! ;)
  13. Rob Kidd

    Rob Kidd Well-Known Member

    I think you will find that Uni Melbourne has been running an MD for a few years. Its only in a name; no one is suggesting that it is any higher a qual than MBBS. I shared an office with an MD student when I was a PhD student - Fran Lannigan, an ENT Surgeon in West Australia; we often talked about this, and the degree rule book at the time referred to an MD as a medical PhD. You may well find that the graduate MD degree is disappearing and that medically qualified persons wishing a research degree simply take a PhD.

    On the second point, I had thought that The West Australian was running a DPM? And on this point, years ago, one of my predecessors got NOOSR to benchmark the US DPM against Australian quals - and found it to be about equivalent to our Post Grad Diploma - we are back to when is a doctor not a doctor! Rob
  14. Paul Bowles

    Paul Bowles Well-Known Member

    Hi Rob - From what I gathered talking to one of the staff this morning it gives the Med Grads now the ability now to work in the US unhindered.
  15. Tuckersm

    Tuckersm Well-Known Member

    University of Melbourne Physios now graduate with a Doctor Of Physiotherapy (without the right to use the title Dr) after a 3+3 degree and law schools are moving to the JD (Juris Doctor)
  16. Rob Kidd

    Rob Kidd Well-Known Member

    You could well be right. My mentor - and MB ChB from the UK (also with PhD & DSc) was part of the UK-US brain drain during the 60's. Sadly this coincided with the Vietnam war and the draft. All males had to register with their quals (I think); he listed his deliberately as they were - not MD (was not not a lie) - and was not drafted, presumably as it was in the too hard basket to work out what it meant.

    Its all in a name at the end of the day - but that has all been said before. Rob
  17. toughspiders

    toughspiders Active Member

    Hi Craig,

    Out of interest , are the lessons not tedious for students if one cannot relate to ones clinical experience and integrate the two? I was lucky i had quite a few (not all) lecturers who had vast clinical experience and post graduate qualifications Louise Stuart for one and i must say her lectures were far more interesting, given the fact she could use her podiatric experience and case studies. The ones with less clinical experience was like watching paint dry and listening to the washing machine.


  18. Rob Kidd

    Rob Kidd Well-Known Member

    It is odd that you mention Louise; she "got my job" when I left Salford in 1987. I taught her (among many others) in the early 80's. Since then she - and her 'usband, Rob, and my wife Ros, have shared a few cups of tea in both Ozz and the UK. She is a good girl, make no mistake. Rob
  19. toughspiders

    toughspiders Active Member

    Oh yes Robb i heard all about you !! I did an extended literature review on evolution of the foot!!! With the one and only Mr Frank McCourt,, was a the size of the bible when i finished but they let it through... did well though!! Got a really good mark for it!!!

    Oh and Mike Lawley loved you too

    Lousie was fab,teaching is not only what you know and your life experiences, but also how you deliver!

    Incidentally i am sure i emailed you and you didn't respond, remind me if i ever meet you to beat you for your insolence!!! ;) lol
  20. Ros Kidd

    Ros Kidd Active Member

    Louise Stuart, yes, it wasn't tea we shared! Australia is a poorer place for her and her husband not emigrating. We needed Louise's burning enthusiasm, a lovely lady.

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