In what ways does access to physiotherapy eduction function like a gated community?
Because physiotherapy is such a popular programme – often one of the most popular in the entire university – we often get to choose which students we enrol. There are many ways to decide who enters the gated community and who does not. We might choose to offer places to people who represent the community they are going to serve; embody our professional values; or who will diversify the profession’s profile. Most often though, we decide on the basis of academic performance and the evaluation of an interview or other face-to-face encounter. The rationale is that physiothearpy is an intensive, complex programme that demands intelligence and diligence; capabilities that are embodied by the staff doing the choosing.
The staff act as the guards at the gateway to the profession and the gate is a threshold across which students pass only when they have demonstrated the right to enter the community. With access come benefits not afforded to others: elite status; access to public funding; membership of a discrete community of like-minded people. But a gated community can also insulate people from the messy world outside and distance people from reality. They tend to offer membership to people who resemble the existing patrons at the exclusion of ‘others.’ And they perpetuate the sense that success was the product of the person’s own efforts, and had little if anything to do with the myriad circumstances and conditions that made it possible for the gated community to exist in the first place.
Are gated communities the right metaphor of student enrolment if we are going to ensure a profession can meet the health needs of the population in the coming years? What might be better?