Promoting Reflective Practice in Dpt Students during Integrated Clinical Experience By Incorporating Service-Learning
Purpose: Experiential learning allows students in an entry level Physical Therapy program to obtain experience working with real world patients to improve their physical skills and interpersonal communication1. Taking it a step further, Service-Learning, a more specific type of experiential learning, helps to enhance personal and professional growth through reflection and interaction in a community setting2. Historically it has been difficult to educate students in the affective domain of Physical Therapy work. The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of Service-Learning on improving affective skills as assessed using subsets of the Clinical Performance Instrument in an Integrated Clinical Experience (ICE). Methods/Description: Third year DPT students participate in an ICE in the fall of their final year. Their patients are the college students referred by primary care providers in the University Health Center for musculoskeletal disorders. Each DPT student is supervised by a licensed clinical instructor and assessed for clinical competency using a modified Clinical Performance Instrument (CPI). The CPI is a valid and reliable tool used to measure clinical skill in several domains; affective, cognitive and psychomotor3. During the summer of 2018 the course was re-structured to incorporate Service-Learning, including a differential diagnosis assignment, clinic model reflection essay, seminar participation and independent reading and reflection assignments. In Fall 2018, 32 DPT students participated in this ICE, incorporating the Service-Learning components and being supervised by the same Clinical Instructors. Results/Outcomes: 31 DPT students participated in this ICE prior to incorporation of Service-Learning and 32 DPT students participated in the ICE with the Service-Learning components included. The was a significant (p < .05) increase in affective skill as measured in the following subsections of the CPI; Safety, Professional Behavior, Accountability, Communication, Cultural Competence and Professional Development. Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Findings support incorporation of Service-Learning into an ICE for improved affective skills of DPT students. This study is limited by a small sample size and would benefit from data collection over several years to allow for greater application to Physical Therapy education. Affective skills, or soft skills, are difficult to teach and challenging to assess but are invaluable for producing successful clinicians. A recent study by Anderson et al. found higher ratings of service-learning students in professional behaviors as compared to students who did not participate in service-learning4. A recent report by Smith et al. emphasizes the beneficial opportunities for “personal and professional growth” in a community. The inclusion of service-learning in physical therapy curriculum can help to promote professional behaviors and improve the affective domain of student Physical Therapists.