The Use of a Mock Patient Case Examination to Determine Readiness for Clinical Rotations Improve Communication and Critical Reasoning Skills in DPT students.


Clinical preceptors have identified characteristics of students who are effectively prepared for clinical practice. Optimizing the match between student preparation and clinical site placement has been cited as an important determinant of student outcome. Supervising therapist productivity demands require that students arrive at their clinical site ready to engage in patient care. Although difficult, the academic program must determine the student readiness to engage in clinical practice. Programs use a variety of methods to determine student readiness including practical exams, and patient simulation experiences. A method of mock patient case examinations (MPCE) with student/faculty pairs will be described with relationships drawn between the student outcomes for mock patient case, didactic performance, and clinical rotation success.


MPCEs were administered to students in the DPT program prior to each clinical education experience. Written mock patient cases leveled in difficulty for first, second, and third year students were administered with faculty serving as the patient and the evaluator. Students examine, determine diagnosis, intervention plan and document during the MPCE. A rubric that mimics CPI structure and criteria is used to score student performance. Faculty provide oral and written feedback as well as critique documentation. Rater bias is minimized through the use of structured cases, grading rubric, and through the evaluator assignment process. Following a failed MPCE attempt, students complete an individualized remediation plan and a re-take of the MCPE. Students are required to successfully complete their MPCE prior to beginning their clinical rotation. A maximum of 3 attempts of a mock experience are permitted.


Outcomes of the MPCEs were compared with academic and clinical education performance. A relationship was found between didactic performance and mock clinic examination performance. Poor mock patient case performance did not predict poor clinical education performance. Student focus group transcript data was reviewed for the past 5 graduating cohorts and data related to MPCEs were analyzed. All cohorts reported mock patient case experiences increased their communication and critical thinking skills. In addition, these experiences were also reported to increase cultural competence.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Shaping the Future of Physical Therapy Education

MPCEs can be an effective method for identifying students who are at risk for difficulty in the clinical setting. Student difficulties provide the opportunity to facilitate remediation plans targeted toward individualized areas of weaknesses. Effective advising can contribute to student success and reduce the risk for negative clinical education outcomes. Students value these learning experiences for their ability to facilitate communication and critical thinking skills.


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  • Control #: 2272690
  • Type: Posters
  • Event/Year: ELC2015
  • Authors: Dr. Lisa Johnston
  • Keywords:

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