During each clinical experience, the faculty visit or conduct a phone call during the mid-term period to check in with the student and their clinical instructor(s) in order to determine how the student is performing. Our program has grown from 30 to 60 students over the past 5 years. With this growth, it has become difficult to perform as many visits to the students as we would prefer to make. The Director of Clinical Education (DCE) began utilizing a Skype 'visit' to make the mid-term contact and monitored the outcomes associated with this form of a 'visit'. The purpose of this case report was to determine if this type of 'visit' was as beneficial to the stakeholders in the clinical education program.
Physical Therapy students were placed on their final clinical experience during the spring of 2015. The DCE performed their mid-term check by utilizing Skype, for a virtual face-to-face 'visit'. The 'visit' consisted of discussions with both the student and the clinical instructor and a 'virtual' tour of the facility. The DCE collected information concerning the cost of the program equipment and the savings to the department based on the decreased need to travel to the sites. When the clinical experience ends in April, the DCE will survey the students and CIs to determine their perception of the Skype visit as compared to a phone call or in person visit. These results will be reported at ELC.
There was a significant cost savings to the department to perform a Skype visit instead of an in person visit. The three students performed their clinical experience at locations outside of the state of Maine, where the University is located. To visit these students the estimated cost for the travel ranged from $700 - $975. The cost of the program for the first time was approximated at $350 per student. This cost then decreased to approximately $50 (depending on mailing expenses).
The DCE felt the Skype visit was more beneficial than a phone call because it provided her with the ability to see facial expressions and body language during the conversation. It also allowed the DCE to have a virtual tour of the facility. This provides additional information when advising future students about this clinical site as well as determining the type of clinical experience a student would obtain.
The results from the student and CIs have not been compiled because the author is waiting for the completion of the clinical experience to collect their feedback. The data will be collected after April 3rd, the completion of the clinical experience.
Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Shaping the Future of Physical Therapy Education
Performing a Skype visit is a great alternative to an in person visit. It has added benefits over a phone call or a visit; 1. Virtual tour, 2. Face to face discussions, 3. Decreased cost. A Skype visit can be a great way to bridge the gap between visiting a student/clinical site in person or having a phone discussion with them.
No research can be found specifically related to this topic. The author is continuing to do research.