Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Education




Bishop, Pam

2nd Supervisor

Faubert, Brenton



Challenges experienced by allied health clinicians transitioning to educator roles in post-secondary institutions are well reported in the literature. Indeed, the Western world-based research contends that such allied health faculty retain their health identity as their primary professional identity, alongside that of educator. More specifically, the influence of retention of the health identity by nursing faculty on their attitudes towards students with disabilities requiring accommodations is also well reported in the literature. Fears held by nursing faculty that students with disabilities may compromise patient safety can act as barriers to the full inclusion of those students in nursing education programs. By contrast, similarly themed research on the attitudes or perceptions of non-nursing allied health faculty towards students with disabilities requiring accommodations, is scant.

This Ontario-based research investigated the experiences of non-nursing allied health clinicians who transitioned into academia. The exploratory case study investigated their self-identification as health professionals rather than as educators, and the influence of their transition experiences and identification as health professionals, on their perceptions towards students with disabilities requiring accommodations. Applying Benner’s theory of ‘novice-to-expert’, this exploratory case study employed purposive sampling with nine participants holding full-time faculty positions in two allied health programs—Medical Radiation Technology and Respiratory Therapy—in an Ontario community college, in one-to-one semi-structured interviews. A modified version of constant comparative data analysis was employed to uncover key themes.

Findings from the triangulated data showed that non-nursing allied health faculty: retain the primacy of their identity as health professionals; maintain adherence to their professional obligation of duty of care to the public; assign priority to maintaining currency in their health discipline; and, found their transition from an advanced or expert level of clinical practice to academia highly stressful, highlighting feelings of being novices in academia. Participants reported that mentoring from program faculty peers was the single most important organizational support mechanism experienced by them during their transition. As well, participants fully supported the inclusion of students with disabilities requiring accommodations in health programs but a notable number had concerns about whether some students with disabilities could succeed in clinical settings and deliver safe patient care once they graduated. Considerations for improving the induction of medical radiation technology and respiratory therapy faculty into academia are offered. Such considerations may increase the comfort of those allied health faculty with, and management of, students with disabilities who require accommodations.