Connecting Neurologic and Acute Care Course Content into One Practical Examination: A Combined-Course Approach
Purpose: In physical therapy programs, there are standards that need to be met to ensure that students have the affective, cognitive and psychomotor skills to manage patient conditions across the continuum of care. Currently, requirements do not exist on how to meet these standards. There is literature supporting the use of both human and high fidelity simulation in health professional education which show the benefits and feasibility of using these methods to improve the skills and confidence of physical therapy (PT) students prior to clinical education. One limitation to this type of learning experience is that it requires a considerable amount of time, organization, equipment, faculty members, and financial support. These factors can place a limit on how many times this type of learning experience can occur throughout the curriculum. In order to maximize resources, a combined-course approach was utilized to enhance the learning experience of the students. Description: A simulation-based practical examination was developed which included content from both the neurological and acute care rehabilitation courses; these courses ran concurrently in the curriculum. The faculty from both courses were involved in the development of the assessment. A single assessment rubric was developed that included distinct performance criteria for each course. Scoring criteria included elements of safety and professionalism, as well as examination and patient handling skills, clinical decision-making and discharge planning. Each course had a set number of points awarded in order to fulfill requirements of that particular course. During the practical examination, 54 DPT students were required to complete a physical therapy evaluation of a neurologically involved simulated patient in the acute care setting. Eight simulation assessments ran simultaneously each hour, allowing for a single day assessment period. The simulated learning experience was video-taped and students were required to view and reflect on their performance. Summary of Use: This model of performance assessment demonstrates how two courses with relatable concepts were combined in order to simulate read-world applications in an efficient manner. A single grading rubric with scoring criteria for both courses proved to be an effective scoring method for the assessors. Simulation-based learning experiences can be costly and require additional resources and hours of preparation and execution for both course directors and students. A combined course approach may help to use resources more efficiently, while simultaneously allowing for a rich learning experience. Importance to Members: It is important to prepare entry-level students to manage patients across the continuum of care, as many patients begin their rehabilitation in acute care settings. Organizing simulated practical examinations can be time consuming and costly, however combining courses with related content can enhance the learning experience and address the needs of multiple courses in a more efficient and applicable manner.