Dpt Curricular Innovations Pairing Health Promotion Education with Community Based Learning
The purpose of this project is to provide a model for PT student engagement in health promotion as part of a DPT curriculum. In this model, students serve the community, develop necessary skills and experience to provide post-graduation community health education, and are instilled with lifelong values of caring for their communities.
In a second-year course, Teaching and Learning in PT, students study population health and health disparities, examine community demographics, and choose appropriate health promotion interventions. Students plan health fairs for seniors in local independent living centers and wellness days for local elementary schools. In preparation for these presentations, students research physical and mental wellness topics and develop educational materials. Students also learn to apply health promotion content and modify their presentations and handouts to improve health literacy in culturally, generationally diverse audiences.
Forty second-year DPT students participated in community-based learning (CBL) as a course requirement. Students provided community health education to approximately 250 elementary-aged children in one public school and 50 community-dwelling older adults across three independent living facilities. In their reflection papers, students cited multiple areas of growth related to professional skills and personal characteristics, including: communication skills, personal interactions, confidence teaching, preparation of teaching content and materials, flexibility, adapting content to various audiences, and managing various group sizes.
Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme:
Health promotion and wellness is important for all ages; thus, it is critical for PTs to adapt teaching strategies for specific age groups to provide education in the most appropriate manner. Provision of health/wellness education in proximity to where people live improves access to health information. In a DPT program curriculum, PT students should learn to address health promotion and social justice issues. One method for this education is through structured CBL activities for the practical application of these values and course material. CBL is also in line with the University of ScrantonÕs mission to develop Òservice of faith and promotion of justiceÓ, as students become Òmen and women for and with othersÓ. Not only do students provide information for the benefit of the community and promote good health, but they also enhance their teaching skills and comfort level interacting with these populations, which will be beneficial in clinical practice as PTs. The exposure to and practice of health promotion develops the PT Core Values of altruism, compassion/caring, and social justice in students. Post-graduation, DPT students will be experienced and empowered to practice health promotion in their own context.