Adapting to a Pandemic in PT Education: Pro Bono Clinic to Telehealth Experience.
The purpose of this abstract is to describe the successes and challenges transitioning a required integrated clinical experience (ICE) in a pro bono clinic to a telehealth experience. The objective of PTH 531 ICE II is to provide students with opportunities to further develop, apply and integrate cognitive, psychomotor and professional behavior skills in the examination, evaluation and treatment of clients in three different settings. This abstract focuses on adaptation of the student experience in a pro bono clinic. Students in the course are assigned to the clinic 4-hours, 2-times per week for 6 weeks. The students provide multiple levels of care and wellness/prevention for clients with neurological disabilities. All practical experiences occur under the supervision of faculty in consultation with community partners and parallel previous and current didactic course work. Mid spring semester 2020, due to the National Safer at Home order response to COVID-19, 50% of the student cohort could not attend the clinic. As a response to the University moving all courses online, the program identified required course objectives for meeting pro bono clinic experience and determined that all course objectives except one could be met through a telehealth platform.1-3 The PT program transitioned the pro bono clinic to a telehealth experience providing students with opportunities to integrate their classroom knowledge and skills and professional behaviors in an alternative care delivery platform.
As a developing area of PT practice, ethical and legal issues related to telehealth were considered.4 Clients were assessed for appropriateness to participate. Faculty and students were trained in videoconferencing platforms and oriented to the experience and expectations. The syllabus, course assignments and assessment forms were evaluated and edited to best reflect course objectives and student experience. Client schedule was adapted based on the new experience.
Assessment of student and faculty development will be ongoing. Students were exposed to the developing area of PT telehealth while applying skills, knowledge and professional behaviors enabling them to continue their education. Faculty were engaged with advancing technology to apply their clinical skills in training student PTÕs through the telehealth experience. Faculty and students worked together to advance students in their training as PTÕs in a changing healthcare environment.
Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme:
Through the challenging time of the COVID-19 global situation, PT program faculty and students were able to work together to promote student success, and professional development. What has appeared to be a limiting situation, has become an opportunity for growth and professional development for expanding knowledge and skills by creating, anticipating, and actively responding to a changing health care system.5,6