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The current healthcare environment provides several challenges to the existing roles of healthcare professionals. The value of the professional expert is also under…
The current healthcare environment provides several challenges to the existing roles of healthcare professionals. The value of the professional expert is also under scrutiny. The purpose of this paper is to generate a construction of professional expertise amongst practitioners in the current healthcare environment. It used the speech-language therapy community in New Zealand (NZ) as an example.
Speech-language therapists currently practicing in NZ completed an online survey including qualitative and quantitative components. The range of experience and work settings of participants (n=119) was representative of the workforce.
Participants clearly identified being “highly experienced” and “having in-depth knowledge” as essential elements of professional expertise. Thematic analysis generated two interconnected themes of a professional expert being a personal leader and teacher, and a highly experienced, knowledgeable and skilful practitioner. Additionally, practitioners needed to be seen to contribute to the community in order to be known as experts. Clinical practice was valued differently from research generation.
This study is novel in exploring a construction of professional expertise amongst practitioners in a current healthcare community. Within that community, experts could be viewed as highly effective practitioners that visibly contribute to the professional community. The study draws attention to the role of reputation and the impacts of being a clinical teacher or leader compared with pursuing a research role. This could be particularly relevant in the promotion of evidence-based practice.