Coaching for Professionalism: Role in Dpt Education
Purpose: Educating for professionalism is a critical component of the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) curriculum1-3 and accreditation standards require evidence of professional ethics, values, behaviors, and responsibilities.4 In spite of consensus about its importance, there is limited agreement about best educational strategies for professionalism.5,6 Mentoring for professionalism is often either an informal or reactive process in response to a lapse or poor behavior.7,8 We describe a unique educational strategy (Coaching for Professionalism [CFP]) to foster development of professionalism. The purpose of CFP was to provide students an opportunity to self-evaluate their professional behaviors and develop a structured learning plan guided by a faculty coach. Description: Each 2nd year DPT student was assigned to a faculty professionalism coach as part of a professionalism course. Students evaluated their professionalism using a strength, weakness, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis. Students then developed goals for further development. These goals were required to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely (SMART)9 and “heartfelt, animated, required, and difficult” (HARD).10 Students then created a plan linked to their goals. The faculty coach guided and provided feedback for each step of the activity. Meetings to revise SWOT, goals, and plan were a central element of this activity. Final steps required students to reflect on the process and their learning. Students were evaluated on preparation, goals/plan, and reflections using a rubric developed by the coaches. All students (n=46) completed their SWOT, goals, plan and reflection. Faculty coaches met regularly for faculty development to establish consistency in the coaching process. Summary of Use: Qualitative data included student reflections, course evaluations, faculty coaches’ feedback, and clinical performance information provided to the School’s clinical education team. Results indicate that students developed insights into their professional identity, behaviors, and the developmental process. One of the primary lessons learned was that the timeline for completion (a single semester) was inadequate. The second lesson was that students required significant coaching to address the multiple dimensions of professionalism. Nevertheless, students and faculty viewed individual coaching as an important strategy to foster professional identity formation and development. Importance to Members: To our knowledge, CFP is a unique DPT educational learning activity. Novel elements include one to one student-faculty interaction; a structured proactive, identity-focused process; faculty coaching; and inclusion of all 2nd year students rather than those requiring remediation. Based on the preliminary data, this useful process may be utilized in both the academic and clinical environments. Future enhancements include incorporating coaching across the entire DPT curriculum, increasing the structure of self-evaluation to address all dimensions of professionalism, and linking coaching to the formal student advisement process and to clinical education.