Dr Sally Abey

Dr Sally Abey

Head of School of Health Professions

School of Health Professions (Faculty of Health)



I have been at the University since 2005 initially employed to teach podopaediatrics to podiatry student s on the BSc (Hons) podiatry programme. Over time my career has developed and was Academic Lead for BSc (Hons) Podiatry (2015-2022), and was Dean of Education for the College of Podiatry (2015-2022) and am currently Head of School for the School of Health Professions. During my time teaching I have become interested in how technology can be used to assist students' learning and have been involved in a number of projects in relation to mobile learning and learning in virtual clinical environments. In 2009 I embarked on my PhD 'Exploring practice-based education in podiatry: an action research project' which I completed in 2014 which focused upon the clinical educator role and effectiveness within the clinical environment. I have subsequently disseminated my research both nationally and internationally, alongside publication of papers. I enjoy working with our students and am committed to ensuring that the undergraduate programme for podiatry equips our students, not only for today's challenges, but for the future too.


PhDBSc (Hons) Podiatry
PgCert in Learning & Teaching in Higher Education
IOSH Managing Safely
Previous roles include: Programme Lead for BSc (Hons) Podiatry, Academic Lead, Associate Head of School for Marketing and Admissions and Deputy Head of School.

Professional membership

Royal College of Podiatry

Roles on external bodies

Dean for the Directorate of Education, Royal Collage of Podiatry (2015-2022)
Reviewer for CORU, Regulating Health and Social Care, Ireland


Teaching interests

Research informed placements: Research informed teaching is one of the hallmarks of higher education and underpins my own teaching ethos. I have extended this concept to include the development of research informed learning environments. My PhD research used action research to look at real-life issues and identifying ways to change working practices to resolve them. These changes were subsequently implemented and evaluated and have informed changes to working practices within the placement area, such as the way that clinical educators are recruited into the role and their responsibilities.

Re-usable learning objects: I have a particular interest in developing re-usable learning objects (RSO) for students such as videos and podcasts. This includes the development of a podiatry web-based repository in collaboration with CEPPL where students could access a range of podcasts and vodcasts is an example of flexible delivery developments. In order to populate this site, I was active in producing these resources and assisting colleagues to develop RSOs to support their own teaching. As part of my own teaching library I have produced a video cataloguing the development of gait in a male child from commencement of walking until development of mature gait. I also have a suite of videos for a first year module demonstrating infection control, padding and strapping.
Dean of Education
I undertook the role of Vice-Dean of Education in January 2015 which I held for over two years, before being elected Dean of Education. The Committee of the Directorate of Education is the advisory body on all matters relating to higher education awards with a direct relevance to podiatry, at pre- and post-registration levels. The committee reports to the College of Podiatry Academic Board and has the following aims:
Maintain an overview of all activities relevant to pre-registration training, pre-registration curriculum and post-graduate award bearing programmes relevant to the development of podiatrists
Establishing and maintaining good channels of communication between the providers of accredited programmes and the College of Podiatry
Encouraging the participation of practising podiatrists in the education and training of student podiatrists
Delivering an academic workshop every 2 years
Maintaining a Register of Clinical Educators
Communicating with Government bodies and councils who inform policy and funding for education at pre- and post-registration levels
An important part of the role is to represent the College of Podiatry at a national level with regards to matters relating to education

Staff serving as external examiners

2015-2020 - University of Southampton


Research interests

Sally has a particular interest in research in the practice placement environment and completed her PhD entitled ‘Exploring practice-based education in podiatry: an action research project’ in November 2014. Sally has also been the recipient of two teaching Fellowship Awards which focused on supporting students in the placement environment.

PhD thesis research
This research used a mixed methods approach where Sally developed expertise in the area of questionnaire and scale development, focus groups, interviews, case studies, multiple linear regression and framework analysis. The action research project had two phases with phase I resulting in a 70-item scale measuring the capacity of clinical educators to engage with the role of clinical educator and the identification of four independent variables predictive of a significant proportion of the variability of the dependent variable, capacity to engage with clinical education. These four factors clinical educators volunteering to undertake clinical education role; protected time to be allocated outside clinical environs;clinical educators having responsibility for signing-off of students’ learning outcomes and clinical educators have a relationship with university other than being a clinical educator. Phase II of the study confirmed the utility of a suite of teaching and learning tools to support clinical educators and students during the placement period. An inductive placement model, explanatory of the super-complexity of the environment where the clinical educator endeavours to monitor, modify and manage the placement scope, was developed. In an area where research is currently scant,this study contributed to practice-based education in podiatry and to current understanding of how clinical educators undertake this complex and responsible role. This is an important area for research given the influence clinical educators have to shape and guide the next generation of podiatry professionals. These findings have been used in to inform placement planning and development for podiatry at Plymouth University.
Other research areas include:

Mobile learning project
The Centre for Excellence in Professional Placement Learning(CEPPL) was awarded funding by HEFCE in 2006 to the development of a mobile learning project. This included the purchase of equipment to be utilised to enhance student learning experience whilst in the clinical environment. The aims of the project were as follows:
• Exploring how mobile devices can support students on placement
• Using new media to support students’ learning experiences
• Capturing real life case studies to build a library of resources
• Conducting a theoretically based evaluation using variety of methods
The devices purchased included ipods, mobile phones and Archos video multimedia players. Sally was active in developing content for students to access whilst on placement ranging from podcasts relating to clinical assessment, to baseline information regarding dressing options, anatomy and physiology and documentation for nail surgery. Students were also able to access recorded lectures, student presentations, study skills and module information. Over time a podiatry repository was established where podcasts and vodcasts were accessible for students to access as they wished. Student were provided with the Archos video multimedia players which they utilised for a variety of different ways,some they determined and some determined by the researchers:
• Record for self-assessment
• Reflective diary
• Case study for sharing in-class and saved for ‘library’
• Generating evidence for portfolio for assessment with mentor/tutor
• Peer review
• Record of development
• Practising presentations
Developing student psychomotor skills
This project focused on recording the teaching of psychomotor skills with our first year podiatry students. The aim was to ' Develop a clinical learning environment for podiatry students using ‘Second Life’ in collaboration with the University of East London'.
The aim of the study was to evaluate the experiences of podiatry students when using ‘Second Life’simulation to enhance their learning. A Podiatry Clinic in Second Life was developed using space on an ‘island’owned and developed by University of East London (UEL). The School of Health& Bioscience at UEL had purchased an island called UEL HABitat with several buildings including a Polyclinic with areas for Physiotherapy and Podiatry. The Podiatry area had yet to be developed with clinical cases and ‘virtual’ patients. The focus of student learning was upon minor surgical procedures within the scope of practice of podiatrists include nail surgery. It is an essential requirement for patient safety that students are skilled at carrying out effective assessment of the patient to establish suitability of the patient for both the procedure and for the local anaesthetic. Classroom based ‘paper scenarios’ are used during traditional seminars and clinical exposure on NHS practice placements provides the students with opportunities, however often limited, to test these skills under supervision. 

Other research

Person-centred care
Raising awareness of podiatry - Girl Guides and Armed Forces
Involved in M-learning project in parternship with CEPPL with 2nd & 3rd year Podiatry students using a variety of different mobile devices such as mobile phones, ipods and video equipment
2008 Awarded fellowship in Teaching and Learning relating to research into using technology to support mentors and students in developing psychomotor skills whilst on placement
2010 Awarded fellowship in Teaching and Learning relating to research into using 'Second Life' to teach clinical skills in podiatry

Grants & contracts

2008- Awarded fellowship in Teachingand Learning relating to research into using technology to support mentors and studentsin developing psychomotor skills whilst on placement - £5k2009– Awarded scholarship from Centre forExcellence in Professional Placement Learning (CEPPL) in support of PhD -£5k
2010- Awarded fellowship in Teaching and Learning relating to research into using'Second Life' to teach clinical skills in podiatry - £5k
2018 - £19,500from HEE to undertake stakeholder consultation exploring the use of digital technology in the assessment of undergraduate health learners. Successful tender. £30,000following a high quality of the bid to HEE to develop the Podiatry Degree Apprenticeships.
2019 - £6000 from Health Education England (HEE) to develop Girl Guide Step-up Challenge badge for Podiatry.
2020 - £68,495with the University of Leicester and University of Suffolk to deliver the Armed Forces into Allied Health Project: Routes to academic study for career changers (Funder HEE).
2023 - £116,298Developing a person-centred decision-aid for supporting footwear choices for those at risk of diabetes-related foot ulceration. Funding body: Great Foundations
Other research relatedactivities
Reviewer for the ‘Journal of Further and Higher Education’.


Key publications

Key publications are highlighted

Most Recent Publications:

Anil K, Bird AR, Bridgman K, et al. Telehealth competencies for allied health professionals: A scoping review. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare. 2023;0(0). doi:10.1177/1357633X231201877
Abey, S., Anil, K., Hendy, P. & Demain, S. The application, character, and effectiveness of person‑centred care with service‑users, and the community within the discipline of podiatry: a scoping review. Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 15:63, (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13047-022-00566-z

Paton, J., Abey, S., Hendy, P. et al.Behaviour change approaches for individuals with diabetes to improve foot self-management: a scoping review. J Foot Ankle Res14, 1 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13047-020-00440-w

Miranda Cunningham, Alison Warren, Nick Pollard & Sally Abey (2020) Enacting social transformation through occupation: A narrative literature review, Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy, DOI: 10.1080/11038128.2020.1841287

Abey, S., Lea, S., Callaghan, L., Cotton, D., & Shaw, S.(2015). Identifyingfactors which enhance capacity to engage in clinical education among podiatrypractitioners: an action research project . Journalof Foot and Ankle Research , 8 :66

Abey, S., Lea, S., Callaghan,L., Cotton, D., & Shaw, S. (2013). The development of a scale to assesspractitioner capacity to engage in clinical education. Journal of Furtherand Higher Education, 39:1–18.

Callaghan, L. Newcombe, M.Abey, S. Gore, O., and Lea, S. 2008. ‘Trials and Tribulation: Three keyelements to running a successful mobile learning trial in a health caresetting.’ Learning and Teaching inHigher Education 2 http://www.glos.ac.uk/tli/lets/journals/lathe/issue2/index.cfm

Anil K, Bird AR, Bridgman K, Erickson S, Freeman J, McKinstry C, Robinson C & Abey S (2023) 'Telehealth competencies for allied health professionals: A scoping review' Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare , DOI Open access
Abey S, Anil K, Hendy P & Demain S (2022) 'The application, character, and effectiveness of person-centred care with service-users, and the community within the discipline of podiatry: a scoping review' Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 15, (1) , DOI Open access
Paton J, Abey S, Hendy P, Williams J, Collings R & Callaghan L (2021) 'Behaviour change approaches for individuals with diabetes to improve foot self-management: a scoping review' Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 14, (1) , DOI Open access
Cunningham M, Warren A, Pollard N & Abey S (2020) 'Enacting social transformation through occupation: A narrative literature review' Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy 1-20 , DOI Open access
Abey S, Lea S, Callaghan L, Cotton D & Shaw S (2015) 'Identifying factors which enhance capacity to engage in clinical education among podiatry practitioners: an action research project' Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 1, (8) 66-66 Open access
Abey S, Lea S, Callaghan L, Shaw S & Cotton DRE (2013) 'The development of a questionnaire to assess practitioner capacity to engage in clinical education' Journal of Higher Education and Further Education
Conference Papers
Bruce M, Abey S, Waldron P & Pannell M (2013) 'Barriers Engaging With Second Life: Podiatry Students Development of Clinical Decision Making' 58-63
Callaghan LE, Newcombe M, Abey S & Gore O (2007) 'Engaging students using mobile technology' 5th Vice Chancellor’s Teaching and Learning Conference University of Plymouth 6-/-0/2007


Conferences organised

Apr 2018 ‘Time to challenge your practice’ South West Study Day, Plymouth, UK
Jan 2017 South West Rheumatology Study Day

Other academic activities

2015 –2021 Member ofthe Professional Issues Committee2015 –2021. Member of theAcademic Offences Panel
2015 – 2020. External examiner –University of Southampton
2014 – 2022. Member of Committee of the Directorate of Education, Royal College of Podiatry
2011 – 2020. Member of Placement Education Group, Royal College of Podiatry
2012 – ongoing Member of MSK:UK
2006 – 2007 Member of the Podiatric Biomechanics Group
2007 – ongoing Associate of the Higher Education Academy
2001 – 2007 Member of the South West Podiatric Biomechanics Group
2001 – on going Registered with Health and Care Professions Council
2001 – ongoing Royal College of Podiatry

Additional information

2022 to date Reviewer for BMJ Open
2022 to date Advisor to NHS Education for Scotland for apprenticeships
2021 to date Reviewer for Australian Journal of Clinical Education