The Practitioner's Work Book (PWB): An Organizational Framework for the Entry-Level Student Physical Therapist
Purpose: The design and development of the Practitioner's Work Book (PWB) is intended to provide entry-level physical therapy students with an organizational framework to enhance critical clinical thinking skills. Description: The Practitioner's Work Book (PWB) incorporates the use of a five inch, 3 ring binder to allow students to deposit and integrate content acquired from their entry-level curricular experience. Although each student possesses complete autonomy over the contents of the PWB, and the organization of the contents, instructor feedback provided through regularly scheduled reviews encourages content arrangement consistent with the patient-client management model and the concept of the episode of care. Summary of Use: Entry-level physical therapy students are challenged by content management demands both within and between required courses. Presumably, the professional physical therapy curriculum has been fashioned to provide these same students with an optimal learning experience. However, the time necessary for content command and integration associated with faculty design and ongoing development of the formal curriculum is seldom, if ever, allocated to the students for similar purposes. The PWB affords the student with a tool intended to accommodate their own learning style(s) and philosophy while generating a sequential, and comprehensive, content management system. It fosters prioritization and organization of clinically relevant content consistent with the decision-making demands the graduates are soon to encounter in the workplace. The integration of the PWB during the first year of physical therapist study has resulted in the development of a tool intended to be utilized for the remainder of the entry-level educational experience and beyond. The utility of this instrument has been verified by means of a longitudinal (5 year) valuation analysis of existing data obtained through the prior administration and collection of student satisfaction surveys. Preliminary results suggest that the PWB has been identified as a useful in-school learning tool, and for a smaller cohort, beneficial even after entering the professional workforce. Importance to Members: During the formative period of education, the entry-level physical therapy student is the beneficiary of a carefully thought-out curriculum. By its very design (and irrespective of the within-course activities intended to engage the student) the existing curriculum relegates the students to passive recipients of knowledge and its clinical applications. The PWB fosters a sense of content and process ownership on the part of the PT student. This ownership is a pre-requisite to the assumed duties of the licensed practitioner of physical therapy. It is therefore intended that the PWB become the PDR (Practitioner’s Desk Reference) of the licensed PT and thus contribute to a lifelong learning organizational framework, capable of meaningfully contributing to practitioner development and maturation.