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Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate the nature of career advice, especially advice concerning postgraduate research training degrees, provided to and by students in five health professional bachelor’s degree programs at the University of South Australia. In addition, differences between professional disciplines in terms of career advice and knowledge of current research activities of staff and research degree students were explored. Method: A cross-sectional survey of final year students in five disciplines within the School of Health Sciences was used in this study. Information was sought on demographics, the nature of career advice received, advice the respondent would provide to a peer, and knowledge of current research activities. Differences between disciplines were calculated with respect to positive responses for advice for postgraduate study (Honours, Masters by Research or PhD) and knowledge of current research activities. Results: In 2004, 278 students completed the survey (response rate 82%). The majority of respondents (72%) indicated that career advice was provided throughout their degree. The most frequent career advice was related to postgraduate study (encouraged 28%, discouraged 27%) or work within a specific place of employment immediately upon graduation (encouraged 17%, discouraged 24%). Respondents from physiotherapy were significantly more positive in their responses concerning postgraduate study, experience of research courses, and knowledge of research activities. Conclusions: While generic advice was provided, there appears to be a lack of specific information relating to career progression and requirements for promotion within different modes of employment. Systematic evaluation of the relationships between career advice provision, employment choices and career progression is required specifically in the allied health professions.

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