Have we thought it completely through? How have clinical residencies and the yearlong internship impacted clinical education for entry-level physical therapy students?
Purpose/Hypothesis : This survey was designed to gather information from Center Coordinators of Clinical Education to see if the presence of a yearlong internship or a clinical residency at a facility would influence the number of shorter, more traditional clinical education experiences offered to entry level physical therapy students. The minimum and preferred number of weeks, as well as student levels accepted in 11 different practice settings were also examined.Number of Subjects : 125 Center CoordinatorÕs of Clinical Education (CCCEÕs) completed the on-line survey.Materials/Methods : The offices of the professions of all 50 states were contacted for access to the email addresses of their members. Approximately 17,000 Physical therapists were sent a link to an online survey. Additionally, members of the APTA Education and Orthopedic sections were emailed a link to access the survey.Results : Four percent of the CCCEÕs surveyed noted that they currently have a yearlong clinical internship for physical therapy students. Thirty-three percent indicated that this yearlong internship decreased the number of shorter, more traditional clinical experiences offered. Most (80%) were not considering the yearlong internship. Sixteen percent of respondents have an APTA-credentialed residency program (50% ortho, 17% sports, 17% geriatrics, 17% pediatrics, 33% neurology, and 6% womenÕs health). 32% indicated that the residency program has decreased the number of shorter more traditional clinical experiences offered, while 58% said it had no effect and 11% increased in number. For each of 11 different practice settings, CCCEÕs indicated the minimum and preferred number of weeks and student levels accepted on that rotation. Majority of CCCEÕs preferred rotations shorter in length, ranging from 4-16 weeks, depending on the service.Conclusions : Approximately one third of the CCCEÕs surveyed indicated that both the year long internship as well as clinical residencies have decreased the number of shorter more traditional clinical experiences offered to entry level physical therapy students. While conversations about the yearlong internship continue, we must take into account that the majority of CCCEÕs in this study have indicated they prefer shorter lengths of rotations.Clinical Relevance : The number of clinical residencies is continually growing. While residencies significantly Òadvance the physical therapist's knowledge, skills, and attributes in a specific area of clinical practice,Ó a good number may be contributing to the continued challenge of providing a sufficient number of clinical rotations for entry-level physical therapy students. Additional research is needed to monitor this potential influence. In addition, research is necessary to evaluate the effect of the yearlong internship on students deciding to enter into a residency.