Effects of a Peer Mentoring Course on Student Perception of Communication Ability with Clinical Instructors
Purpose/Hypothesis: The purpose of this academic research study was to determine if interactions in the Integrated Case Application Lab (ICAL) courses in a DPT program impact DPT student impressions of his/her communication ability especially in relation to interactions with a Clinical Instructor (CI). An effective clinical experience is influenced by the relationship between the student and the CI. Positive relationships are due to various CI attributes, most important of those being communication. Limited exposure to professional communication, specifically within the CI-student learning model, can impact a student’s clinical experience. Little research has been done to assess techniques DPT programs can utilize to improve DPT student communication skills early in the program. Number of Subjects: First year (no internship experience) and second year students (one internship experience) enrolled in a DPT program. 95 subjects pre-test and 60 post-test, 155 total responses. Materials and Methods: Students are required to take the ICAL courses which involve peer teaching using the CI-student model. In this course 2nd year students assume the role of clinical instructor while first year students are mentored in the examination and intervention process using mock patient scenarios. Students were surveyed pre and post ICAL in their level of comfort to effectively communicate with CIs. Quantitative and free response qualitative responses were collected. Pre and Post test survey results were compared to determine change in student level of comfort with CI communication. Thematic analysis of qualitative data were conducted. Results: Pre-test results: 69.6% of first year and 97.9% of second year students felt comfortable with CI communication. Post-test: 91.9% of first year students felt comfortable with CI communication, an increase of 22.3%. Cited reason: increase self perception of effective communication skills. Second year student comfort level was unchanged, but a shift occurred in perception of successful communication to a student driven responsibility (12.2% to 17.3%) from CI driven responsibility (16.3% to 8.7%). Conclusions: Using cases to simulate CI interactions improved first year student perception of ability to communicate and second year students perceptions of what contributes to successful communication between the CI and student. Clinical Relevance: Using peer teaching strategies in didactic course work to simulate CI interactions may improve student perceived ability to communicate effectively during internships.