AECC University College Launches New MSc Musculoskeletal Paediatric Health Degree
AECC University College has recently launched the new MSc Musculoskeletal Paediatric Health degree and this has been designed to develop the knowledge and skills of clinical professionals in the safe and competent care of children of all ages. The course covers topics in paediatric musculoskeletal practice with specific units on paediatric development, paediatric musculoskeletal examination, paediatric musculoskeletal interventions, and paediatric musculoskeletal management. The course addresses issues such as risk factors and public health, including breastfeeding, supine sleep in infancy, physical activity in children and conditions affecting the musculoskeletal health of children from birth.
Michelle Holmes is a Lecturer in Research Methods at AECC University College and Postgraduate Framework Lead for the School of Chiropractic, and Aurélie Marchand is the Pre-registration Chiropractic Framework Lead and the Course Lead for the MSc Musculoskeletal Paediatric Health course.
We interviewed Michelle and Aurélie and asked them to elaborate on the process of developing the course, who it will benefit (and why) and how it will be delivered.
Why has AECC University College launched this new course and who will benefit from undertaking it?
“As a university we have always provided further education in Paediatric Musculoskeletal Health and we previously ran a programme supporting this study, however, we decided to revisit the course to meet the needs of ever-evolving healthcare provision.
“As a result, we've taken the best bits of the old course and we've added elements to our new course that we felt would meet the needs of healthcare professionals.
“The aim is to make sure that graduates are able to provide high-quality care for paediatric patients within their practice. They will be individuals who are known within their communities as the ‘go-to’ for paediatric musculoskeletal referrals.
“Any musculoskeletal practitioner with an interest in developing and advancing their practice further with paediatric patients could apply for this course. This means several different professions would benefit – for example Chiropractors, Osteopaths, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists and anybody else who works in the musculoskeletal area of healthcare. All applications are reviewed on a one-to-one basis.”
Could students already studying at AECC University College tap this course onto the end of their studies?
“Individuals will need to already be working as a healthcare professional and have at least two years’ clinical experience. Students who enroll on the course also need to have a paediatric practice or see paediatric patients regularly so that they can complete and meet the requirements of the course.”
Is this normally a standalone position within professions?
“It's not a standalone position because when graduates leave their practice, whether it be Physiotherapy, Chiropractic, Osteopathy or Occupational therapy, they can still see children, but when people want to advance their practice and get more knowledge, more skills or more training, that’s when they become that subject expert or an advanced practitioner in that area – this is what this course is providing.”
How does the old course and the new course vary – what are the main differences?
“The previous course was based on a model of reflective practice and personal development, and the new one is based on core capabilities and competencies of practitioners in Paediatric musculoskeletal health.
“The new course is about providing our students with core knowledge and exposure to different types of conditions that they may encounter so that they can guide their practice in a safe way. We make sure that they have that 360-degree awareness of the other healthcare professionals that might be part of the team caring for these children and that they know how to safely refer and co-manage.”
Can you tell us what students can expect from the course in terms of course structure, units studied and assessments, plus what sets this course apart from the courses that other Institutions offer?
“This course is all distance learning, which I think is really important and does set us apart. We’ve learnt a lot from the pandemic and know that people from all over the world want to study the course and this gives them the opportunity to do so. Our goal for this course is to be interdisciplinary allowing a variety of health professionals to learn together and share experiences from their own clinical practice.
“The contact time that we have during the course has been organised to accommodate students from across the world to attend and that's what helps to create an outstanding experience.”
How long is the course and what is the course structure?
“People can complete the course alongside their practice. The course is two years as a minimum but individuals can complete the course over five years. For example, if they feel daunted at the prospect of taking on too much, they can do one unit one year and two the next year – this makes it more flexible.
“If they choose to take it over the two years, which is how it's been designed, there’s four units in the first year, two which are paediatric specific and two which are advanced practitioner skills. Examples include evidence-based practice and research methods, and then there are two more paediatric specific units in the second year. Students then have optional units to choose from, and they also complete a dissertation.
“The content is delivered over six weeks for each unit and because its distance learning it equates to about a day of content a week with part of that time being an asynchronous online session with a tutor.”
It would be great to learn more about the course validation and what the accreditation means to AECC University College and its students – how was the accreditation gained? Was it a rigorous process to achieve this status?
“At first we had to review whether we wanted to revalidate the previous course or whether we wanted to take this opportunity to advance a new course. We eventually concluded that the changes we wanted to make to support the needs of our students and their paediatric patients would mean we needed to develop the new course.
“We consulted various stakeholders to make sure that the course met the needs of the intended student interest, we researched the necessary competencies within musculoskeletal paediatric healthcare, and identified trends in education to ensure we produced and delivered an outstanding course.
“The new course has been validated with both internal and external panel members reviewing and considering the content, structure, and support of the course. This included an interdisciplinary team of academics and healthcare professionals, including a paediatric Podiatrist and a Paediatric Physiotherapist. At the course consideration, we were commended for the “evidence-based and interdisciplinary nature of the course.”