Perception Versus Reality: Physical Therapists As Instructors for Emergency Medicine Residents
Purpose: The purpose is to highlight emergency medicine resident’s perceptions of physical therapists as instructors of orthopaedic knowledge. Description: Physical therapists (PT) in the emergency department (ED) are in a unique area of practice. Our ED PT operate in a level one trauma center that serves as a safety net as well as teaching facility. Two orthopaedic certified specialist (OCS) PT staff the ED and, working together, instruct an orthopaedic educational module to emergency medicine residents during their orthopaedic block. This one-time, five-hour module includes didactic as well as hands-on examination techniques. The program was developed for EM residents to help improve a pre-existing knowledge gap of orthopaedic material despite having required orthopaedic curricula in the classroom setting. Over the course of the past year, the residents filled out a faculty evaluation form at the end of the educational session. Residents scored the teaching PT on a 10-point scale covering six items regarding the quality of instruction provided. Additional comments were also requested and recorded. Summary of Use: The twenty completed faculty evaluation forms scored the OCS ED PT favorably as instructors of orthopaedic information for emergency medicine residents. Specific feedback mentioned the benefit of hands-on training, a greater understanding of musculoskeletal diagnoses, as well as requests for more PT led education and resources for the future. The feedback was used to continue adjusting and tailoring the educational module to include more live patient examination practice and hands on training with a focus on pertinent information for emergency medicine physicians. Importance to Members: Resident perceptions of physical therapists as educators of orthopaedic knowledge are pertinent for many reasons. There are three ways members may use this information for expanding education. First, members should consider opportunities to provide clinical education to other medical providers and/or students who are interested in cross-training to improve clinical skills. One such example is PT actively engaging physicians in a teaching environment offering focused education in an area of expertise. This appears to work best in places with established collaborative models of care; however, these working relationships can be developed over time and in a variety of settings. A second consideration in the expansion of education is the utilization of specialty areas of PT practice, such as the ED, as clinical education sites for student physical therapists using collaborative models. Learning among medical student and other non-rehabilitation clinicians will reinforce principles of teamwork, professional communication, and differential diagnosis in primary care. A final consideration is the inclusion of specialty areas, like the ED, within the curricula of orthopaedic physical therapy residencies. This addition would broaden PT residents’ exposure and ability regarding inter- and intra-professional teaching, a major tenant in the pursuit of an orthopaedic specialization.