Integration of Physical Therapist’s Expertise in the Emergency Medicine Curriculum: An Academic Model for Inter-Professional Education


Patients presenting with acute musculoskeletal conditions comprise 15-20% of emergency room visits annually. Data suggests that musculoskeletal training is lacking in medical education curricula and more formalized training is needed to increase the knowledge and proficiency of residents practicing in an Emergency Department (ED) setting. The purpose of this presentation is to describe a novel musculoskeletal training session for emergency medicine (EM) residents developed and implemented by physical therapist faculty.


The EM faculty observed deficits in their residents’ musculoskeletal examination performance in the ED. The EM faculty subsequently approached physical therapist faculty to provide an educational session on musculoskeletal conditions. Specifically, the EM faculty requested the educational session focus on the clinical examination and management of acute shoulder, ankle and knee injuries due to the higher incidence of patients presenting to the ED with these acute musculoskeletal complaints. The intervention was a hands-on training session provided by Emory University’s physical therapist faculty with assistance from third year physical therapist students. Knowledge was assessed using a written examination. Skills and patient education were assessed using a Clinical Skills Assessment Examination.


The EM residents’ scores on the pre and post written examination scores increased from 10.1 (50.7%) to 15.2 (76.0%), which was a statistically significant improvement (p<.001). Although there was not a statistically significant difference between residents’ overall pre and post Objective Standardized Clinical Examination scores, there was a statistically significant improvement in the residents’ performance of special tests for the foot and ankle region (p<.05) and accuracy in instruction of rest, ice, compression and elevation interventions (p< .01).

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

Physical therapist faculty members providing musculoskeletal education within the Emergency Medicine curricula is a novel concept. Moreover, physical therapists have recently begun to assess and manage patients with musculoskeletal injuries in the ED, rendering inter-professional education between EM residents, physical therapists and physical therapist students logical preparation for future teamwork in clinical practice.


Clawson DK, Jackson DW, Ostergaard DJ. It’s past time to reform the musculoskeletal curriculum. Acad Med. 2001; 76: 709-710.

Darwent M, Gamon A, McLoughlin F. Early physiotherapy within the accident and emergency
department. Physiotherapy. 1998; 83:281.

Day C, Yeh AC, Franko O, Ramirez M, Krupat E. Musculoskeletal medicine: An assessment of the attitudes and knowledge of medical students at Harvard Medical School. Acad Med. 2007; 82(5):452-457.

DiCaprio MR, Covey A, Bernstein J: Curricular requirements for musculoskeletal medicine in
American medical schools. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2003; 85-A: 565-567.

Freedman KB, Bernstein J. The adequacy of medical school education in musculoskeletal
medicine. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1998; 80:1421-1427.

Jibuike O, Paul-Taylor G, Maulvi S, Richmond P, Fairclough J. Management of soft tissue knee
injuries in an accident and emergency department: the effect of the introduction of a
physiotherapy practitioner. Emerg Med J. 2003; 20:37-39.

Lebec M, Jogodka C. The physical therapist as a musculoskeletal specialist in the emergency
department. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther.2009; 39(3):221-229.

Moore J, Goss D, Baxter R, DeBerardino T, Mansfield L, Fellows D, Taylor D. Clinical
diagnostic accuracy and magnetic resonance imaging of patients referred by Physical Therapists,
Orthopaedic Surgeons, and Nonorthopaedic Providers. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2005;

Owens P, Barrett M, Gibson T, Andrews R, Weinick R, Mutter R. Emergency Department Care
in the United States: A Profile of National Data Sources. The Practice of Emergency Medicine.
2010; 56(2):150-165.

Perina DG, Beeson MS, Char DM, Counselman FL, Keim SM, McGee DL, Rosen CL, Sokolove
PE, and Tantama SS. The 2007 Model of the Clinical Practice of Emergency Medicine: The
2009 Update. Acad Emerg Med. 2010; 18(3):e8-e26.

BACK to Abstract Results

  • Control #: 2284929
  • Type: Posters
  • Event/Year: ELC2015
  • Authors: Kathleen Geist, Douglas Ander , Melissa White, Dr. Marie Johanson, Beth Davis
  • Keywords:

BACK to Abstract Results