Lessons Learned from Preparing First Year DPT Students for an Introductory Internship


The purpose is to modify a foundational course for First-year DPT students that would best prepare the learner for their introductory internship.


PT 527: Foundations of Physical Therapy Examination & Evaluation is a foundational course in the first-year DPT curriculum that has didactic and lab components. The labs focus on the acquisition of clinical skills and historically have been taught in a traditional manner through demonstration of a skill by the instructor and then practice by the students. Skills are typically taught in a manner that focus more on psychomotor abilities and less on the context of the clinical setting. Feedback on this style of teaching from students, in past years, indicated that the transference of specific skill sets to the clinic can be challenging. Different teaching strategies were implemented based on this disconnect between classroom instruction and learning and how to perform in a clinical environment.

Based on these gaps between classroom instruction and clinical performance in the fall of 2013 several innovative technologies were implemented to improve student engagement while learning course content and to provide the students with realistic clinical scenarios. The process was started by implementing a backwards design that asked what the goals of the course were, what students perceived to be gaps in their learning, and how to create new opportunities from these gaps. By asking what experiences and instruction would best accomplish these educational goals the decision was made to enhance the PT 527 curriculum through the use of several different technologies and class room design not previously utilized in this course.


Technologies and experiences to close these gaps included: Poll Everywhere, Today’s Meet©, Clinical Case Scenario Builder, Adobe Captivate©, the University of Wisconsin Health Clinical Simulation Program (SIMS) using standardized patients for skill practice and a final practical, and integrating first-year nursing students into two labs. These changes allowed increased class time for student discussions, online and face-to-face reflections and timely feedback from course instructors, more realistic clinical experiences, and an informal inter-professional dialogue between nursing and physical therapy students. Activities were implemented based on an understanding of learning needs of the students and responding to their feedback.

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

Blended learning is currently trending in higher education presenting innovative teaching methods. The integration of technology not only has the potential to improve student learning but additionally keeps pace with the knowledge and skills required of entry-level clinicians. The information provided with this course redesign may facilitate other academicians to blend traditional lab courses. The use of technology may enhance traditional classroom teaching of clinical skills to better prepare first-year DPT students for an introductory internship.


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  • Control #: 2290269
  • Type: Posters
  • Event/Year: ELC2015
  • Authors: Sue Wenker, Colleen Cobey
  • Keywords:

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