Doctor of Physical Therapy Student Experiences during Clinical Education: Patient Safety, Error, and the System
Purpose/Hypothesis: Medical error is inevitable due to complex environments and human fallibility. Other professions have published extensively on error reduction and students as a contributing aspect of clinical error. The physical therapy profession has lagged behind. Purpose: To explore doctor of physical therapy (DPT) student experiences with patient safety during clinical education, including factors that could potentially contribute to error. Number of Subjects: 70 Doctor of Physical Therapy students at the University of Colorado. Materials and Methods: Sequential explanatory mixed methods design including quantitative (survey) and qualitative (focus group) data collection. Results: 91% of students participated in the survey, and 13% in the focus groups. Five themes were identified including 1) Facility safety culture 2) Communication Methods and Frequency 3) Widespread clinical education/clinical instructor variability 4) Dual identity as student and clinician 5) Student Stress. These themes all have the potential to increase patient safety risk. Conclusions: Some issues identified in this paper are specific to students and need to be addressed at the clinical education level, but with a focus on patient safety risk. However, many of the issues were related to the broader system and clinical environment, and may have occurred without the student present. Clinical Relevance: There are many opportunities for better academic and clinical partnerships with dual goals of improving educational excellence and reducing patient safety risk.