Acceptance of primary practitioner physiotherapists in an emergency department: A qualitative study of interprofessional collaboration within workforce reform
Primary contact practitioner physiotherapists (PPs) are increasingly common in emergency departments (EDs) and provide targeted care to people with uncomplicated musculoskeletal conditions such as sprains, strains, and simple fractures. Workforce redesign can be challenging and success is influenced by staff attitude and opinion. The current study aimed to explore the experiences and perceptions of ED team members about a recently introduced PP service on existing staff and services in a large regional ED. Forty-two staff from eight professional groups participated in semi-structured interviews or focus groups which were audio recorded and field notes were taken. Data were transcribed verbatim and subsequently underwent thematic analysis. Acceptance emerged as one key theme. Acceptance of the PP service by ED staff was not automatic, unconditional, or implied and represented a continuum from PPs being tolerated as transient visitors to being subsumed as integrated members of the ED team. Acceptance of the service and its members was contingent upon the PPs demonstrating three interdependent qualities: being trustworthy, valuing learning, and complementing (not competing with) ED practices to achieve ED goals. Given that staff acceptance was crucial for the successful integration and performance of the service, understanding and manipulating the factors that influence acceptance might increase the likelihood of successfully implementing PP services in EDs. The results might also be applied to facilitate workforce reform in other settings.