Original Research

Audiologists’ phenomenographic experiences of professional development during community service in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Sphilile Mbhele, Musa Makhoba
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 69, No 1 | a844 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v69i1.844 | © 2022 Sphilile Mbhele, Musa Makhoba | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 June 2021 | Published: 21 January 2022

About the author(s)

Sphilile Mbhele, Department of Audiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Musa Makhoba, Department of Audiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

Share this article

Bookmark and Share


Background: The compulsory community service programme (CSP) was implemented to improve access to healthcare and arguably facilitate the transition of graduates into independent professionals. However, its role and outcomes as a developmental platform for audiology graduates remains unclear and scant in literature.

Objective: To explore the qualitative differences in the experiences of professional development among new Audiology graduates during their community service year at their fixed-placements in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Methods: Within a phenomenographic design and framework, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 purposively sampled Community Service Officers (CSOs) of the year 2017, after obtaining ethical clearance, gatekeeper permission and participant’s consent.

Results: The findings were interpreted according to the tenets of phenomenography. An outcome space based on the participants’ reported experiences, revealed three categories of description: transitioning from graduate to professional, learning in the workplace during community service and professional development. The findings reflected that the work environment, supervision, resource allocation, socialisation and infrastructure contributed to qualitatively different developmental experiences of the CSP.

Conclusion: The current model of fixed-placement of the CSOs exposes them to qualitatively different developmental experiences, resulting in them attaining different developmental outcomes despite being in the same programme at the same time. Hence, we argue for an urgent CSP review, with the aim of standardising and redefining its intended outcomes and pertinent criteria for the attainment of the independent practitioner status.


professional development; community service; work-based learning; phenomenography; graduate to professional transition


Total abstract views: 1264
Total article views: 648

Crossref Citations

No related citations found.