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11. Other Activities

The AAB has received reports on, had involvement in and discussed a number of developments; these include:

11.1 Virtual Learning Environment

To effectively support the English Department of Health’s VERT (Virtual Environment for Radiotherapy Training) project Robert Appleyard, a senior lecturer from Sheffield Hallam and Louise Coleman, lecturer and practice coordinator at University Campus Suffolk, were seconded by their education institutions to the SCoR to oversee implementation and evaluation of the tool for 18 months. This project ended in September 2009. Louise was the Implementation and Education Co-ordinator whilst Robert was the Evaluation and Research Co-ordinator.

VERT aims to make learning more effective and enjoyable for student therapeutic radiographers. The VERT project was a national project funded by £5 million from the Department of Health (England) and the Cancer Action Team (CAT). Louise’s role involved co-ordinating the installation of the VERT technology in universities and departments in England and to ensure that users were supported, helped and encouraged to use VERT with students.

The formal evaluation of the VERT technology was coordinated by Robert.

During the past 12 months Louise completed visits to all 10 universities in England that train therapeutic radiographers. All of the 30 radiotherapy departments who have seminar VERT installed were also visited. Those sites which were early implementers and visited at the very start of the project received a second visit to see how their VERT use evolved. Site visits necessitated a significant amount of travel all over England. Visits took a variety of forms ranging from all day visits to meet large numbers of interested radiographers, students, physicists and doctors to much shorter visits to talk VERT with one or two people only. In universities and departments the majority of people were enthusiastic about using VERT and most of those who were not VERT enthusiasts before the visit became more accepting of the technology during the course of the day. There are several departments still to have their equipment installed due to a variety of room and building work issues. These sites have been encouraged to participate in regional VERT user groups with their university and other departments.

During the last year of the project Louise encouraged the formation of three tier user groups:

  • University or department local groups - VERT leads and interested radiographers, physicists, doctors and other interested parties
  • Regional groups - the VERT leads from departments and the providing university meet every few months
  • The national user group (including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland)

The evaluation strategy led by Robert comprises:

  • A survey of students’ first impressions of VERT
  • A prospective cohort study establishing the impact of pre-placement VERT experience on 1st year students’ skills and confidence
  • A randomised controlled trial examining the impact of VERT characteristics on student performance in spatially complex set-ups and the extent to which these skills transfer to the clinical environment
  • A retention and attrition survey
  • A final survey of users’ perspectives on the impact of VERT on radiotherapy education and training.

The final report of the VERT project will be published early in the New Year.

11.2 Interprofessional Collaboration

The AAB receives reports of meetings of the Allied Health Professions Federation (AFPF) Education Leads, which are attended by the Director of Professional Policy and the Professional Officer for Education and Students.

The AAB continues to be kept abreast of the work of Assessment and Learning in Practice Settings (ALPS). ALPS has developed a mobile assessment and an e-portfolio system which has been piloted by five ALPS partner EIs. The partners were based in the Yorkshire region and involved sixteen professions. ALPS are keen to work with CoR to identify ways in which their associated practices can be embedded into key stakeholder agendas. Further information is available from the ALPS website

11.3 Consultations

The AAB contributed to the SCoR response to five consultations:

16.3.1 The HPC’s revised Standards of Education and Training and revised Standards of Education and Training guidance
16.3.2 The HPC’s ‘Guidance on Health and Character’.
16.3.3 The HPC’s ‘Conduct and Ethics for Students’.
16.3.4 Response to the Scottish Government – ‘Supporting a Smarter Scotland’ – a consultation supporting learners in higher education by the Society and College of Radiographers.
16.3.5 Skills for Health consultation on modernising scientific careers.

11.4 Fellow of the College of Radiographers (FCR) by portfolio

A working party from the Consultants’ Group is currently looking at how to distinguish between the honorary fellowship and a portfolio route which would bring professional recognition. The fellowship would have to be made available throughout the spectrum of radiography practice. It is hoped that the working party findings will be brought to the February 2010 AAB meeting, prior to be being presented to SCoR Council and The College of Radiographers Board of Trustees (CBoT).

11.5 Scottish education strategy

Scotland continues to review its education strategy with the scoping and piloting of  the reform of the Scottish four-year undergraduate honours degree for a range of nursing and allied health professional programmes within the framework of a common core curriculum as a response to the needs for a flexible, effective and employable workforce.

This project deals with issues surrounding future workforce planning in Scotland. A member of the AAB is also a member of the working party for the project and, therefore, CoR is fully informed as to how the project is progressing.

A 2+2 model, which was favoured early in the project, has since been rejected. A 1+3 model is now the favoured route forward. Ostensibly this meant that a total of one year would be utilised for multi-professional education.

In due course a report with recommendations will be compiled, however, full implications are not currently known. As professional bodies have been identified as stakeholders CoR is, and will be involved, as well as being informed.

11.6 Skills for Health

The NVQ level 3 is linked with the CoR policy on assistant practitioners. CoR has been insistent upon keeping the NVQ level 3 as the minimum qualification even with the tilt towards foundation degrees. This was difficult to achieve at the last NVQ3 review due to the number of units a student needed to complete, however, the CoR believes it remains a valid qualification. A further review of the NVQ level 3 health awards is due again. Those for diagnostic imaging and radiotherapy will be reviewed between October 2009 –March 2010.

The Department for Health England (DH) has held workshops to identify roles and link with competencies from the Skills for Health framework.  CoR representatives have attended all the events. However, it has proven difficult for the DH to recognise new roles when they have traditional boundaries at a time when radiographers have already moved further forward on ‘boundary blurring’. The subsequent report has not so far moved things further forward. It is imperative that CoR continues to input into this type of work.

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