Physiotherapy in the UK defines itself as a 'sciencebased healthcare profession'. Physiotherapy students must undertake at least one thousand hours of learning in live practice settings. Adopting an analytic stance shaped by interaction analysis and workplace studies, and drawing on observational data of placement settings, this paper examines some features of the means by which physiotherapy education is practically accomplished. The paper introduces and utilises a novel notational system for capturing movement and touch in ethnographic fieldwork notes. Our analysis draws upon ideas from Lynch and Macbeth's (1998) study of elementary school science classes. We focus in particular on their notion of 'disciplining witnesses' to illustrate how science is enacted - and plays a privileged role - within the everyday accomplishment of practice-based physiotherapy education. We show how patients are disciplined to provide information on cue and to act as props for therapeutic demonstrations, while students are disciplined to co-produce standard interpretations of the science of physiotherapy. We conclude the paper with a brief discussion of the ways in which these insights offer a new perspective for physiotherapy practitioners and educators in understanding the nature of interactions entailed in their professional practice, and the role of patients within those interactions.
- Practical accomplishment
- Science education