Physical Therapy Case Rounds Seminar: A Strategy for Collaborative Learning and Professional Development
Background and Purpose: Accurate clinical decision-making is critical for optimal patient care. Such decisions require integration of multiple variables gathered throughout the complex process of evaluation. Current physical therapy education models deliver didactic content within a classroom and then ask clinicians to help students apply these skills within clinical practice. This traditional model requires clinicians and students to collaborate with the ultimate goal of synthesizing knowledge into effective clinical reasoning. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of a case-series rounds seminar in creating a collaborative learning environment outside the clinic to enhance the professional development of multiple stakeholders. Case Description: A 3 course sequence designed as a case-series rounds seminar was added to an entry level DPT curriculum, in which students participated in a weekly one hour interactive case presentation provided by a practicing clinician. The seminar format engaged students in active critical thinking through a structured format led by an expert clinician. The format was designed to reinforce acquired knowledge, expand existing knowledge and bridge the gap between learned and applied clinical decision-making. Students from all three cohorts attended each lecture simultaneously and clinicians from the community were also invited to attend in person or remotely via video conferencing technology. Outcomes: Data was collected over a 3-year period from 177 stakeholders, represented by the following groups: 1) students (n = 118), 2) expert clinician presenters (n = 40), and 3) guest clinicians (n = 19). Data analysis revealed the following: 96% of students indicated that the course strengthened their critical thinking skills and 93% of students indicated that the course made them appreciate how reflective practice impacts patient care. Expert clinician presenters enjoyed the interaction with students and 98% indicated that the students were engaged creating a collaborative interactive discussion about clinical decision making within a real practice setting. Additionally, 94% of expert clinicians indicated that the learning experience and interaction helped with their professional growth as clinicians and educators. Clinicians from the surrounding community who attended these presentations rated the quality of the case series rounds as excellent and 100% indicated that they would attend again. Discussion: The data suggests that this new course series created a culture of collaborative learning between students and expert clinicians as evidenced by a mutual expression of growth and development. Reported improvements in student critical thinking and reflective practice was mirrored by reports of clinician professional development, suggesting that an interactive case presentation encouraged collaborative reflection on clinical decision-making. This type of learning environment has the potential to improve the overall delivery of care by entry-level graduates and practicing clinicians.