Dr Helen Frank
Head of Department, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Nutritional Therapy, Principal Lecturer
Department of Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy and Nutritional Therapy
Deputy Head of School
tel: 01905 542585
I am the Head of Department for Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy and Nutritional Therapy teams, within the School of Allied Health and Community. I am also a Principal Lecturer, and half of my job is as an academic member of the teaching staff. I manage and work within a team of dedicated, motivated and excellent academic and support staff who deliver outstanding courses in health professions at undergraduate and post-graduate level. I am a Physiotherapist, motivated to join this fantastic profession through swimming and personal injuries; I was an international swimmer, and competed in the Olympics in 1988. I graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University in 1993 and moved to Birmingham after an inspirational elective placement at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. I specialised in musculo-skeletal physiotherapy with children and young adults, both in in-patients and out-patients, and was lucky enough to work in elite sport alongside my NHS career. Following my Master’s degree in Learning and Teaching in 2001, I became a lecturer in physiotherapy at the University of Birmingham. In 2013, I took the opportunity to lead the new Physiotherapy course here and enjoyed working collaboratively with my OT colleagues to develop a truly shared and inter-professional learning opportunity for our future professionals. I completed my Doctorate in 2017, carrying out research into the learning experiences of visually impaired physiotherapy students, and firmly support opportunities for learning for all disabled students. I became a Principal Lecturer in 2019.
BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy, Leeds Metropolitan University 1993
MSc Health Sciences (Learning and Teaching), University of Birmingham 2002
PGCert Learning and Teaching in Higher and Further Education, University of Birmingham 2005
EdD Learning and Learning Contexts, University of Birmingham 2017
Teaching & Research
I am a principal lecturer for 50% of my job, and Head of Department for the other 50%. I teach predominantly at Level 4 and 5, enjoying all aspects of teaching and learning. I teach anatomy, pathophysiology and foundations for professional practice to physiotherapy and occupational therapy students and assess many level 4 and 5 practical exams. I am also module leader for the dissertation in Level 6.
My teaching style is interactive, inclusive and student-centred, and aims to make theory relevant and applied to practice in all teaching sessions. I also love to work across professional boundaries, in an inter-professional setting.
My Doctoral research explored “The learning experiences of student physiotherapists with visual impairments”. My other research interests include learning experiences, inter-professional education, student experience and academic support.
Member of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (MCSP number 052997)
Health and Care Professions Council registered (PH46376)
Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
Frank, H. McLinden, M., Douglas, G. (2020) Accessing the curriculum; university based learning experiences of visually impaired physiotherapy students. Nurse Education in Practice. 42 Available online: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nepr.2019.102620
Kyte, Rachel and Frank, Helen and Thomas, Yvonne (2018) Physiotherapy Students’ Experiences of Role Emerging Placements; a Qualitative Study. International Journal of Practice-based Learning in Health and Social Care (2): 1-13. Available online:
Frank, H., (2017) Exploring the learning experiences of visually impaired physiotherapy students. VictarNews. Available online
Frank, H., McLinden, M., Douglas, G. (2014) Investigating the learning experiences of physiotherapy students with visual impairments: an exploratory study. British Journal of Visual Impairment 32: 223
Thomas, Y., Frank, H., Mauro-Bracken, L., Goodall, D., Thackeray, K., Jones, R. (2014). The value of writing groups and the barriers to writing: A response. International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation 21(6), 259
N. Metje; H. L. Frank; P. Croft (2007) Can't do maths--understanding students' maths anxiety Teaching Mathematics and its Applications 26: 79-88
Ransley, B., Gaskin, K., Frank, H (2019) A Systematised Literature Review investigating the effects of Oscillating Positive Expiratory Pressure (OPEP) therapy on clinical outcomes in patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Proceedings of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Respiratory Care Annual Conference; April 2019, Birmingham, UK
H. Frank. Accessing the curriculum; university-based learning experiences of visually impaired physiotherapy students. Platform presentation at Showcasing and exploring excellence. Proceedings of the University of Worcester Teaching, Learning and Student Experience Conference, University of Worcester 16th June 2016
H. Frank, Prof M, McLinden, Dr G, Douglas (2015) Accessing the curriculum. Barriers and enablers experienced by visually impaired physiotherapy students in university physiotherapy education. Poster presented at: Physiotherapy U.K 2015. Proceedings of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy’s Annual Conference; 2014 Oct 16-17; Liverpool, U.K.
H. Frank. Becoming a physiotherapist; university-based learning experiences of visually impaired physiotherapy students. Platform presentation at Research in Education Across Boundaries. Proceedings of the Bristol Doctoral Conference, Bristol University 1st & 2nd June 2015
Kyte, R, Frank, H, Thomas, Y and Double, A. Evaluation of the impact of Action Learning Sets in an undergraduate physiotherapy education programme. Poster presented at Physiotherapy U.K 2014. Proceedings of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy’s Annual Conference; 2014 Oct 10-11; Birmingham, U.K.
H. Frank, R.Kyte, and Y.Thomas. (2014) Evaluation of a novel continuous practice placement model in a newly developed undergraduate physiotherapy education programme. Poster presented at: Physiotherapy U.K 2014. Proceedings of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy Annual Conference; 2014 Oct 10-11; Birmingham, U.K.
H. Frank, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (South). Supporting students with disabilities; research into the learning experiences of physiotherapy students with visual impairments. January 2012
H, Frank 2012 The learning experiences of student physiotherapists with visual impairments – an exploratory study. Theme Paper presented at Nurse Education Today Conference. Proceedings of the Nurse Education Today Conference, 4-6 Sept 2012, University of Cambridge, UK.
External Examiner roles
Sheffield Hallam University BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy 2019 - ongoing
University of Essex MSc (Prescribing) 2017 – current
Leeds Beckett University BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy 2011-2015
(Invited) Re-approval University of Liverpool, BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy 2020
Course Re-approval St. Georges, University of London, BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy 2019
Course Re-approval Bournemouth University, BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy 2018
Course Re-approval University of East London, BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy 2017
Edexcel Pearson A Level PE Review 2012-2015
OCNWMR Validation and Approval, Access to Higher Education Diploma 2014
CSP Education Representative
University of Lincoln 2017 onwards
Bournemouth University 2018 onwards
University College Birmingham 2019 onwards
International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation
British Journal of Visual Impairment
International Journal of Practice-based Learning in Health and Social Care