Lack of graduate support
Osteopaths study for four or five years to obtain an undergraduate Masters degree. This is similar to a medical degree, with more emphasis on anatomy and musculoskeletal medicine and includes more than 1,000 hours of training in osteopathic techniques. Unfortunately, unlike medical students who have the benefit of postgraduate placements in hospitals, only a few lucky graduates find placements in large practices that allow for continuing education.
All new registrants graduate from their undergraduate education as clinically safe and competent practitioners. However, once new registrants leave the supportive environment of their Osteopathic Educational Institution (OEI), they are largely left to find their own way into practice. This has always been problematic due to the lack of a professional career structure, but the problems appear to have been magnified by the difficulties encountered due to the current economic downturn.1
Most newly graduated osteopaths have to fend for themselves without the necessary clinical experience or business acumen to successfully run an osteopathic practice. This can have an impact on the quality of care that patients receive if treated by a new graduate despite their extensive clinical training.
Evidence gathered as part of the GOsC commissioned ‘Preparedness to Practise’ research, points to the difficulty new registrants encounter in accessing high quality professional support once they leave their OEI. These difficulties are particularly acute in, but not limited to, new registrants who go into sole practice early in their professional lives. In their summary, Freeth et al state that study participants commonly reported gaps in business and entrepreneurial skills, patient management skills and interpersonal and communication skills.2
There is a strategic need for helping new registrants to cope with the demands of moving from a relatively supportive OEI environment into autonomous professional practice.
Barnes & Roger, 2013. Osteopathic Development Group, Mentoring Project, Project Initiation Document.
Freeth et al, 2012,: http://goo.gl/8pH0Gy.