Evaluating Patients with Communication Deficits: Physical and Speech Therapy Partnership in a Teaching Clinic
Purpose: Many patients with neurologic diagnoses such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis, may have issues related to communication and memory. A doctor of physical therapy (DPT) student may have limited or no previous experience working with this population. This presents a challenge for the DPT student when evaluating and treating these patients. Patients with communication deficits may also become frustrated at not being able to understand or answer the questions posed to them by the DPT student(s). Speech and language pathologists (SLPs) are experts in providing effective communication strategies. Physical therapists (PTs) and SLPs work together in the rehabilitation care of patients with communication deficits. it is important to expose DPT and SLP students early in their education on how they can work together to effectively treat and provide education to patients with communication deficits and their families. Methods/Description: For the past 4 years, second-year DPT students and students from the speech and language pathology (SLP) program at the University of Washington (UW) have worked together in a student clinic experience as part of the UW DPT Applied Neurology course. Patients with communication deficits were seen by students from both disciplines (2-3 DPT students and 1-2 SLP students) for an initial evaluation. After the session was completed, the student team met for a debriefing session with their clinical instructors. DPT students were then able to carryover newly learned communication and memory strategies into patient treatment sessions. Two different methods of evaluation were utilized to understand the students’ knowledge and learning: 1) A written reflection on this learning experience and, 2) more recently, a pre- and post-experience survey was given to students. Patients and family members voluntarily provided either written or verbal feedback. Results/Outcomes: Data from both the student reflections and pre-/post- experience surveys will be analyzed. Student feedback has been positive overall, with many adding that they would appreciate more pre-visit time together to plan their clinic sessions. Some patients and their families have noted that this model “makes a lot of sense” and have appreciated seeing both disciplines together. Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: This is an interprofessional practice-based experience that is both learner- and patient-centered. These are elements that are included in the conceptual model of excellence in physical therapy education as outlined by Jensen et al. (2017). This program has been a very successful and well-received by DPT and SLP students, clinical instructors/faculty, and patients and their family members. Curriculum clinical experiences like this provide new models and opportunities for rehabilitation medicine students to integrate what they are learning into real-time patient care collaboration and communication.