An interdisciplinary, practice-based educational model for meeting student and hospital needs through partnership: the pilot year.


This educational case report describes an innovative interdisciplinary healthcare model developed between a DPT program and a regional hospital’s nursing department. The Early Mobility Program (EMP) is designed to assist nursing with patient mobility needs while at the same time providing DPT students with an early, experiential learning opportunity in an acute care setting during their first year.


Need. Early experiential learning is a form of practice-based education that provides opportunities for students to initiate the work, roles, and identities that their profession requires of them. Current clinical education models are struggling under current healthcare system constraints to provide early clinical experiences. Consequently, educators are faced with the challenge and opportunity for developing new models of early clinical experiences. Rather than burdening an already burdened healthcare system, strategies can be developed that support these systems while at the same time supporting clinical education needs. Essentially, partnerships between healthcare educators and healthcare providers can afford solutions to obstacles faced by both through accessing the resources of each entity.
Concept: Place first year DPT students in a hospital setting with clinical faculty for two days per week (4 hours total) to mobilize patients in interface with the hospital services of Nursing and Physical Therapy. Concomitantly, the students will practice and refine their psychomotor and professional behaviors, perceptions, attitudes, and knowledge base.
Program development: An Early Mobility Program proposal was submitted to Brenau University and NGHS nursing administrations, and approved. An interdisciplinary Early Mobility Task Force consisting of members from both organizations was constructed to further develop the concept and implementation of the program, as well as provide program oversight during the implementation phase.
Program implementation: First semester DPT students were trained in professional behaviors and basic mobility techniques in Basic Skills I. In the second semester they were assigned to an early mobility team consisting of 3-4 students, a PT supervisor, and patient nurse(s). Two patient floors were covered by three teams, twice daily.


Outcomes will include a tally of services rendered, evaluation of student performance, student evaluations of the experience, and student, nursing, and PT supervisor perceptions through focus group interviews.

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

The Early Mobility Program serves as a pilot collaboration model between acute care nursing and a DPT program. The program is aimed at partnering trained DPT students and adjunct faculty with nursing staff for the purpose of safely mobilizing select patients while providing an exceptional experiential learning environment for the DPT student.


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  • Control #: 2524851
  • Type: Platforms
  • Event/Year: ELC2016
  • Authors: Mary Thigpen, Tracy Wright, Kevin Gohman
  • Keywords:

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