An Investigation of Inter-Professional Education Involving Physical Therapist Assistant and Occupational Therapy Assistant Students
Purpose: 21st Century healthcare and healthcare education are rapidly changing environments. Authors have noted limits of “separate silo” curricula within healthcare education programs, citing the flaws of such models in readying students for the daily challenges of working within the healthcare system. To wit, occupational therapy assistants (OTA) are exposed to musculoskeletal injuries when moving, repositioning, and lifting patients. Such injuries can be life-altering and career-ending. Conversely, physical therapist assistants (PTA) regularly teach patients mobility skills. This report details an IPE experience offered within a career college environment where PTA students taught OTA students safe transfer and other patient handling skills. Description: Under the direction of faculty from each program, PTA and OTA students were paired for an IPE laboratory experience. The objective was to implement a learning module that addressed Screening and Evaluation learning objectives iterated within the educational accreditation standards set forth by the AOTA, as well as address interprofessional education core competencies advocated by the APTA. More specifically, PTA students enrolled in the 2nd semester of their curriculum instructed OTA students enrolled in the 2nd semester of their program on patient handling skills typically performed by OTAs in clinical settings. They taught various transfer techniques, including independent, assisted, and dependent patient transfers inclusive of each of these types of transfers involving a Hoyer lift, wheelchair, mat, and bed. The OTA students were also taught progressive levels of patient assistance, including stand-by-assist, close guarding, contact guarding, minimal assist, moderate assist, and maximal assist. Safe body mechanics and energy-sparing methods were included for each of the above techniques. Summary of Use: Post-activity debriefing revealed the OTA students were receptive to the instruction, reported greater confidence in their capacity to safely perform patient handling skills, and enjoyed learning about the PTA profession; 83% reported receiving thorough demonstrations and 94% stated they were given ample time to practice and have their questions answered. The PTA students expressed similar views, as well as noted that the IPE activity helped to refresh their memories on transfer skills learned early within the curriculum and the need to perform them on their upcoming second, part-time clinical rotation. Importance to Members: The subtleties of the healthcare needs of society exceeds the capacity of any single profession. Therefore, it is crucial that IPE comprise a part of each healthcare education curriculum. Professional socialization and the ability to “work together” are learned skills that may be shaped through shared experiences in educational and clinical settings. There are many prospects for IPE in colleges housing multiple health profession programs. Thus, faculty should seek out and utilize such connections, providing better training for their students prior to entering into practice settings.