Developing an Interprofessional Perspective Through Problem-Based Learning


In the Fall of 2011, the OTA and PTA Programs at the presenters' institution collaborated in designing and implementing an interprofessional experience in response to our institution's call for advancement of interprofessional content in program curricula. Objectives for the activity were framed around the competencies identified by the Interprofessional Education Collaborative with the hope that following the experience students would understand the roles and responsibilities of another care provider and how a team works together, while recognizing and respecting the unique cultures, values, roles/responsibilities, and expertise of another health profession.


Problem based learning (PBL) was utilized for the actvity. PBL is a student-centered philosophy in which students utilize a case study to solve open-ended problems. They work together in a self-directed format to draw on previous experiences and knowledge and apply it to a case relevant to both the occupational and physical therapy professions. The OTA and PTA students were divided into six groups, with both OTA and PTA faculty members as facilitators. Two different 1 ½ hour blocks were used for the groups to meet. They processed through the case within their groups, answering questions based on the case study and looking up relevant information to report to their group.


Both programs have course objectives related to increased familiarity with the other discipline. In 2015, the original objectives were modified slightly, and were used as the basis of a post-activity survey, in which 91% of respondents indicated that the activity enhanced their understanding of the other discipline’s role in the rehabilitation team.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: The Pursuit of Excellence in Physical Therapy Education

In 2014, the APTA House of Delegates endorsed the Interprofessional Education Collaborative's core competencies and encouraged the inclusion of interprofessional educational activiities in physical therapy curricula. This activity bears out the value of doing so. Despite challenges in carrying off this activity (large numbers of students, logistics of scheduling), the perceived value by students is strong. 68% of 2015 participants requested additional collaborative activities. It is our hope that, by presenting this example of interprofessional interaction and the evidence of its success, other programs will be encouraged to add similar activities to their curricula.


American Physical Therapy Association. Endorsement of Interprofessional Education Collaborative Core Competencies (HOD P06-14-14-09). Located at Updated August 28, 2014. Accessed April 12, 2016.

Crowe T. Problem-Based Learning: Making It Work for You. Presented at St. Catherine University; January 13, 2010; St. Paul, MN.

Interprofessional Education Collaborative Expert Panel. Core competencies for interprofessional collaborative practice: Report of an expert panel. Washington, D.C.: Interprofessional Education Collaborative. 2001. Accessed at Accessed on April 13, 2016.

Wise H, Frost J, Resnik C, Davis B, Iglarsh Z. Interprofessional Education: An Exploration in Physical Therapist Education. Journal Of Physical Therapy Education. 2015;29(2):72-83.

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  • Control #: 2520548
  • Type: Platforms
  • Event/Year: ELC2016
  • Authors: Holly Clynch, Susan Nelson
  • Keywords:

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