Leaving Something Behind: Developing partnerships between medically underserved international communities and physical therapist students for mutual benefit.


The purpose of this presentation is to provide a guideline on selection of an international partner and developing a collaborative partnership for the benefit of the student and the community facility. Discussion will include the purpose of “leaving something behind” – having students complete a project with an identified need with a sustainable benefit for the community partner.


International clinical learning opportunities should be established with deliberate intent. Though many resources exist in developing courses that benefit the physical therapy student, few resources exist on how to select a viable clinical partner and develop a relationship. Because universities are preparing students to work in facilities where they are expected to meet the needs of the site, both short term and long term, having students anticipate the future needs of the community partner is an appropriate skill to attain. To successfully teach this skill, a partnership with a community that has the capability of sustaining the outcome of the efforts must be established. Steps for initiating, establishing, and maintaining that symbiotic relationship will be discussed during the presentation.


At the end of this short presentation, participants will be able to identify key steps in choosing an international clinical partner, then how to collaborate successfully with that partner, to meet the desired outcomes of both entities. They will also be introduced on to how to structure a course that will allow students to participate in activities that allow for engaged scholarship, further enhancing the outcomes.

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

Theme: The Voices of PT Revisited: Platform Responses to ELC 2015: Define elements for standardized curricula that raise graduate expectations to better meet societal needs. Describe what it mean to meet the needs of a population and how to integrate in DPT curriculum:
This is an opportunity to provide framework for creating a symbiotic partnership that may allow students to apply their education from the classroom to an international and interprofessional clinical setting with limited resources, yet still be able to achieve an enduring outcome. Students are taught skills for examination, evaluation, and assessment in the classroom, but have limited opportunities to view the long term community benefit beyond the single patient they treat in a snapshot of time. By creating a partnership with an international community partner, an opportunity will be created for students to apply didactic knowledge with a sustainable result.


Access to physical therapist education and practice for people with disabilities: Briefing paper. World Confederation for Physical Therapy. February 2016. http://www.wcpt.org/sites/wcpt.org/files/files/resources/reports/DisabilityAccess_BriefingPaper_Final_Feb2016.pdf.
Pechak CM, Black JD. Proposed Guidelines for International Clinical Education in US-Based Physical Therapist Education Programs: Results of a Focus Group and Delphi Study. Phys Ther. 2014; 94(4): 523-533.
Wickford J, Duttine A. Answering Global Needs in Low-Income Countries: Considering the Role of Physical Therapists. World Medical & Health Policy. 2013; 5(2): 141-160.
Ruiz A, Warchal J. Chapter 1: International Service-Learning: Who Benefits? In: Lin PL, ed. Service Learning in Higher Education: National and International Connections. Indianapolis, IN: University of Indianapolis Press; 2011.
Clayton PH, Bringle RG, Hatcher JA, eds. Research on Service Learning: Conceptual Frameworks and Assessment. Volume 2B: Communities, Institutions, and Partnerships. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC; 2013.

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  • Control #: 2524260
  • Type: Platforms
  • Event/Year: ELC2016
  • Authors: Carrie Hawkins, Patricia Gillette
  • Keywords:

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