International Educational Opportunities for American Board of Physical Therapy Residents
Background and Purpose: Our University supports an American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education (ABPTRFE) approved neurologic residency program. Physical therapy residents are the future clinical leaders in the profession. Therefore, it is essential that they are culturally competent, and it has been documented that even brief experiences abroad increase cultural competence. An optional aspect of Our university's residency program is participation in a 10 day international didactic and clinical observation service learning experience in Atenas, Costa Rica. This service learning experience is designed to increase cultural competence. The number of entry level physical therapy programs that participate in international learning experiences has been documented. However, the number of ABPTRFE approved residency programs that participate in international community based service learning experiences has not been documented. The purpose of this study was to document the number of ABPTRFE approved residency programs that offer study aboard opportunities for their residents. Case Description: Population. ABPTRFE residency programs. Procedure. The ABPTRFE website was consulted to identify all physical therapy residency programs. All residency program directors were contacted via email and asked: • Do your residents currently have an opportunity to participate in a study abroad program during the residency program? • If the answer was yes, the following additional information was collected: where is the international experience located, how long is the experience, and what types of experiences do residents have on the study abroad trip? Data Analysis. Descriptive statistical analyses were performed. Outcomes: At the time of this study, there were 263 ABPTRFE residency programs in the United States, and responses were obtained from 211 programs (80%). In addition to our University’s study abroad program, only 6 other programs currently have study abroad opportunities for their residents, 1 program is developing an opportunity, and 2 others have opportunities following residency. Of the existing programs, the specialty areas are as follows: neurology (4), pediatrics (2), and orthopaedics (1). The developing program is sports, and the programs following residency are orthopaedics. Our University offers a 10-day international educational experience in Atenas, Costa Rica. Residents visit a private Physical Therapy education program in San Jose, Costa Rica, as well as local public/private nursing homes, and a pain clinic. The other programs surveyed offered experiences in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Kenya, Ethiopia, China, Guatemala and Brazil. These experiences varied from 9 days to two weeks in length. Types of experiences included physical therapy in the inpatient, outpatient, and home health settings as well as an intensive stroke rehabilitation camp. Discussion: Our University offers its residents a unique opportunity to participate in an international service learning experience. Only 6 other residency programs in the United State offer similar opportunities. ABPTRFE residency programs may consider developing international learning opportunities for their residents, to prepare these future clinical leaders to promote cultural competence and advance the profession globally.