The mandatory clinical radiotherapy department visit undertaken by potential applicants aims to provide understanding of the profession and therefore reduce attrition. Increasing pressure on clinical departments makes visits a logistical challenge. This additional step may also present as an unnecessary barrier to applicants. With no evidence relating to visits, this study aimed to explore the perceptions of both students and clinical educators concerning potential benefits and challenges.
A focus group interview method was used to gather in-depth qualitative data concerning the clinical department visit experiences from first-year undergraduate students and clinical educators.
Three themes emerged from the student focus groups: the perceived purpose of the clinical visit, the visit content and the outcomes and impact arising from the visit. Clinical educator data also followed these themes in addition to ‘logistical impact’ theme.
The clinical visit has value to applicants in affirming their decision to study radiotherapy. There is variation in expectation and content for these visits and they are logistically challenging. Nationally agreed guidelines for visit structure and content could improve visit efficiency and effectiveness. A national clinical visit form may reduce workload for educators and applicants.