Experiences and Outcomes Among Undergraduate Health Professional Higher Education Students With Protected Characteristics: Disability, Gender, and Ethnicity
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KeywordsUndergraduate students; Higher education; Disability; Gender; Health professionals; Outcomes
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The Dean of the School of Health Studies at the University of Bradford, requested a review of the experiences and outcomes amongst undergraduate health professional higher education students with protected characteristics (as defined by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2010). The rational for this work was the University of Bradford’s recognition that all students are entitled to a valuable and rewarding university experience regardless of age, ability, gender or ethnicity. Across the higher education sector nationally, it has been suggested that whilst many students benefit from positive outcomes and experiences, some do not. This literature review was undertaken, as a precursor to a wider project, in order to report on current published research illustrating examples of negative and positive student experiences and outcomes in health higher education. Objectives - To review available literature in order to examine the relationship between undergraduate health professional students with protected characteristics and their experiences and outcomes in health higher education. - To identify and report examples of good practice relating to the review aims Method The literature review was undertaken systematically, using a protocol-based approach between 31.01.14 and 31.07.14. Only primary or secondary research data were included in the review. Databases and search terms were pre-specified and literature published between 2010 and 2014 was retrieved. Data bases searched included CINAHL, Medline, ERIC, BHI ASSIA and the Higher Education Academy. Papers were screened at title and abstract against exclusion criteria and eligible papers were included in the review. Results Thirty seven papers were included in this review. Data were broadly organized and displayed through the Equality and Human Rights Commission (2010) protected characteristics categories. These included the presentation of three categories: disability, gender and ethnicity. No papers relating to age were included. Data describing both negative and positive student experiences and outcomes was presented in the context of medical, nursing and allied health professions. Discussion Findings were presented in a narrative format. Included literature predominantly centred on pre-registration nursing students and ethnicity. There were more examples of negative student experiences and outcomes with fewer positive examples to report. Further empirical and secondary research focusing on age, disability, gender and ethnicity is required. The review also highlights the need to examine each protected characteristic student group independently to enable closer examination of specific issues.