Development of a Student Pro-Bono Clinic within a Laboratory Course: An Administrative Case Report
Purpose: Brief clinical experiences imbedded within a curriculum can be challenging to coordinate for both academic programs and clinical partners. These part-time clinical experiences usually occur only a few days a week for a short duration, require close proximity to the University campus and do not allow sufficient time for orientation. These logistical challenges result in students primarily observing patient care with less time allocated to hands-on learning. One solution for physical therapy programs could be to develop a University sponsored pro bono clinic in which students from various courses have the opportunity to develop “clinic ready skills” under the guidance and direction of university faculty. This student pro bono clinic affords the opportunity to meet the clinical education needs while serving the local community. The purpose of this administrative case report is to describe the needs analysis, development, and implementation of a student pro bono clinic within a DPT curriculum. Methods/Description: A Pro Bono student-led clinic was developed specifically to integrate hands-on learning experiences within a DPT and MOT curriculum but outside of full-time internship experiences. These Pro Bono clinical experiences were integrated into the lab component of a Physical Therapy Musculoskeletal IV course and the fieldwork component of two Occupational Therapy courses (Adult and Geriatrics). The patients were recruited from the community alongside community health partners and the University campus. The clinic utilized an interprofessional educational model collaborating with the occupational therapy department so that both OT and PT students provided cooperative integrated patient care. In addition, aspects of quality improvement were included through the Administration and Management in Physical Therapy course. Faculty mentors provided supervision, assessment, and feedback for patient examination, treatment, and documentation. Results/Outcomes: A total of 84 patients with more than 320 visits occurred during the first trimester of this Pro Bono clinic. Through the integration of the physical and occupational therapy courses, a total number of 58 PT students and 7 OT students actively provided both discipline specific and interprofessional care. The diagnoses for the clinic ranged from basic musculoskeletal impairments to more complex neurological impairments. Faculty mentors began as primarily orthopedic board-certified faculty but quickly expanded to include geriatric and neuromuscular faculty as the uniqueness of the community clientele warranted. Student assessment for clinic readiness revealed communication and professionalism skills were at entry level based on the clinical performance instrument rating scale. Chart audits revealed the paper documentation system was cumbersome and time-consuming to monitor for quality and the recommendation was to identify an electronic medical record documentation system that met both OT and PT needs to implement in the future. Patient/client satisfaction surveys revealed positive comments and overall satisfaction with the experience. Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: A student Pro Bono clinic could be an optimal solution to meet the needs of the DPT student learner for application-based hands-on clinical experiences imbedded into DPT courses. Not only does this clinical experience supplement the part-time integrated clinical internship the local community is served with quality pro-bono rehabilitation services.