Utilizing High Fidelity Human Simulation to Promote Physical Therapist/Physical Therapist Assistant Intraprofessional Collaboration/Communication
Purpose/Hypothesis: Physical therapists (PT) and physical therapist assistants (PTA) work together on teams in clinical practice, however PT students and PTA students traditionally have minimal direct contact during their professional education. Standards established by the Commission for Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) stipulate that PT and PTA progams provide opportunities for students to participate on PT/PTA teams. This has led to an increase in PT/PTA program interactions, but best practices for PT/PTA intraprofessional education need to be established. High fidelity human simulation (HFHS) using trained actors to provide a standardized experience is an experiential education methodology that has been successfully used to teach interprofessional communication, and to prepare students for clinical internships. Case based learning has been successfully used to improve PT/PTA perception of individual roles and responsibilities. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effect of a HFHS experience on student learning and perceived ability to communicate and work collaboratively on a PT/PTA team. Number of Subjects: 57 Materials and Methods: A convenience sample of 35 first year PT, and 22 second year PTA students participated in the HFHS experience. Before the event, PT students were trained to use the color profile as a basis for understanding personalities, and navigating PT/PTA team relationships. PT students completed a pre test, then reviewed a PowerPoint module on the scope of practice of PTAs, followed by a post test. On the day of the event, participants were briefed on the objectives, then assigned to teams of 2 PT: 1 PTA students. Teams were instructed to collaboratively examine and treat 3 diverse patient cases, and challenged to recognize opportunities for appropriate delegation of data collection tasks to the PTA team member. The SBAR communication technique was used to guide patient hand off discussions. After the event an electronic survey using a Likert rating scale was used to collect data on perceptions of team communication and collaboration. Participants were also asked to reflect on the event. Results: Results of paired t-tests demonstrated a significant difference (p=.02) between PT students’ pre and post test scores. 89% of the participants strongly agreed/agreed that the HFHS contributed to their ability to practice collaboratively, and 88% strongly agreed/agreed that it improved their communication skills. Conclusions: This initial experience suggests that HFHS may be an effective strategy to improve PT/PTA intraprofessional communication and collaboration in the didactic phase of the curricula. Further research is needed to assess the qualitative data from the students’ reflections, to further explore team dynamics, and to establish if there are any long term effects. Clinical Relevance: HFHS may be a useful method to demonstrate compliance with CAPTE standards, and actively foster student understanding of PT/PTA roles and responsibilities.