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The University of Southampton
Medical Education

NTFS Project: Beyond Competence

This collaborative project between Southampton and Leeds aimed to facilitate smooth transitions for students moving from university-based teaching to workplace learning. We investigated how students make the transition from ‘student' to ‘trainee professional' - and from didactic, class-room teaching to increasingly independent learning. Our focus was on healthcare education and audiology, medicine and nursing in particular.

A one-day conference on students' transitions into clinical placements
Mind the Gap. Rethinking perspectives on clinical placements

Why the Project was started

The Beyond Competence project responded directly to needs identified by students, higher education institutions (HEIs), the health service, professional bodies and in the literature concerning transitions into placement learning. Moreover, it took seriously the changing context of the NHS and HEIs in the period of public spending cuts. It explored the ways in which HEIs and placement providers can help students thrive in the workplace and made recommendations for future policy and practice. Finally, it worked with students to create resources for students, outlining and disseminating strategies for successful placement learning.

The project’s aim was to:

“Enable and inspire healthcare students to engage confidently with the transition from classroom to workplace learning."

Funding for the Beyond Competence project

This education research and development project was HEFCE-funded (£200k) and was awarded through the Higher Education Academy (HEA) National Teaching Fellowship Scheme (NTFS) / Projects strand. In addition to the external funding, the project also benefited from generous institutional contributions from both sites, which accounted for staff time, use of space, etc.

The project had two principal investigators, Professor Faith Hill (Southampton) and Professor Trudie Roberts (Leeds); who are both National Teaching Fellows. The project was managed by Dr Anja Timm (Southampton) who was also a co-applicant for the grant. The team was joined by Sue Kilminster, as a co-investigator (Leeds).

There were two research fellows employed by the project. At Southampton, Dr Stuart Ekberg started the project. He left in 2011, when Dr Regina Karousou took over and completed it. Dr Alison Ledger was the Research Fellow at the University of Leeds.

The Beyond Competence project benefitted from a range of project advisors: the advisory group and the practice-based key individuals who were based locally and who facilitated the research in the profession specific settings.

Practice-based key individuals (for project duration):

University of Southampton

Dr Louise Dubras: Faculty of Medicine
Professor Judith Lathlean: Faculty of Health Sciences
Ms Kathy Owens: Faculty of Health Sciences
Professor Mark Lutman: Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR)
Ms Jane Burgneay: Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR)

University of Leeds

Dr Nick Thyer: School of Healthcare
Dr Janet Hirst: School of Healthcare

Project Advisory Group (for project duration):

Dr Oliver Corrado: NHS Foundation Director, West Yorkshire Foundation School
Professor Michael Eraut: Professor Emeritus of Education, University of Sussex
Professor Debra Humphris: Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education), University of Southampton
Ms Rosalynd Jowett: Associate Dean (Education, University of Southampton
Dr Vicky Osgood: Postgraduate Dean for Wessex
Dr Megan Quentin-Baxter: Director, MEDEV Subject Centre, Newcastle
Dr Margaret Sills: Academic Director, Health Science and Practice Subject Centre, London
Dr Chris Stephens: Associate Dean (Education and Student Experience), University of Southampton
Steve Outram: Senior Advisor, Higher Education Academy (HEA)

The Beyond Competence project sought to enhance the experience of healthcare students who are in the process of transition to clinical learning. Initially, we did this through talking to stakeholders, writing news items, employing a student on a summer internship and generally seeking advice from a wide variety of people.

Once data collection was underway, we began to disseminate our work at national conferences (e.g. Higher Education Academy, Association for the Study of Medical Education, RAISE – the student engagement conference, etc.) and collaborated with stakeholders and e-learning experts on producing interactive online resources for staff and students. Along the way, we met with the advisory group and the practice-based key individuals three times. And we held a couple of project workshops in London, which allowed us to share our results with professional bodies and colleagues from across the UK.

The majority of this work has been captured by the end-of-project reports, online resources and papers we have published from Southampton and Leeds.

Throughout the duration of the project we were able to draw on the support from the Higher Education Academy and our own institutions, the universities of Southampton and Leeds, and for this we were (and are) grateful.

There were a range of outputs produced by the project. These include the Final Reports from Southampton and Leeds that were submitted to the Higher Education Academy at the end of the project in 2012. Below, we are also presenting the literature reviews and the summary slides from our final project meeting (in the hope that these might help the reader) as well as the online resources that were produced by Southampton.

Online resources

The Southampton team produced the following outputs:

From Classroom to Clinical Learning

This is an interactive online resource for clinical teachers who work in medical education. The module is based on the research undertaken at Southampton and includes quotes from the research as well as survey data. It contains animation and a variety of learning activities.


This is a website that was developed specifically for students who are just about to start their first clinical placement. The website caters for students of audiology, medicine and nursing. Resources are aimed at a national audience (not just students from Southampton and Leeds). The resources were co-produced with students.

Summary Slides

Summary slides from the national dissemination event (these provide a quick overview for anyone new to the Beyond Competence project):

The slides of presentations from the national dissemination day that took place in October 2012 in London (Research findings from Leeds / Research findings from Southampton).


Research Findings


Research Findings



Literature reviews

In total, the project produced three literature reviews - all of these are available: two literature reviews produced at the University of Southampton on the transition into initial clinical placements - one for medicine (21 pages) and one for nursing (22 pages) - and a literature review conducted at the University of Leeds considering preparedness across the three professions (15 pages).


Literature Review

Southampton Medicine

Literature Review

Southampton Nursing

Literature Review


Final Report - Southampton

The Final Report from Southampton (27 pages) has the following appendices reporting on the qualitative data: Audiology Report (staff and students), Medicine Report (staff and students) and Nursing Report (staff and student).


Final Report - Southampton

Audiology Report

Medicine Report

Nursing Report

Final Report - Leeds

The Final Report from Leeds (16 pages) has three appendices: one reporting on student interviews (A) and one reporting on staff interviews (B).


Final Report - Leeds

Appendix A

Appendix B


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