The Benefits of a Peer Teaching and Mentoring Program for First Year Dpt Students Participating in an Integrated Clinical Experience (ICE).
Evidence for the efficacy of peer mentor programs, in post-secondary education settings, is becoming more prevalent. Contemporary studies show that peer mentoring participation increases confidence, professional development, problem solving ability and communication skills in student protege. However, despite an increase in mentoring studies in traditional settings, peer mentoring in service-learning environments is not largely studied. Because service learning, has the added peer modeling of the altruistic professional behavior of service, it may present as a strong medium, to combine academic skill acquisition with the use of peer mentorship. Therefore, the purpose of this project was to assess the effects of a peer mentor program (third year mentoring of first year DPT students) in the context of an integrated clinical experience where physical therapy services are provided to the university population.
Third year and first year students were paired as a part of two classes within the DPT program. Prior to matching students, 35 first year students completed a survey to establish perceived confidence levels in a variety of areas of patient care they would provide during their Integrated clinical experience that semester. They also indicated areas of perceived weaknesses. Thirty third-year students blindly chose their protŽgŽ based on the areas of weakness listed on the survey that they felt they had mentoring skills to address. The mentor-protŽgŽ pair was required to meet for a minimum of 1 hour per week for 2 weeks. The third-year students were enrolled in a teaching and mentoring program during the Spring semester and this activity was part of coursework on the effective teaching and mentoring strategies based on the APTA residency program model. Upon completion of the project, first year students where reassessed with the confidence survey again and third year students wrote a reflection paper on their role as a service model mentor.
Responses to the survey were measured using a Likert scale with 1 being Òstrongly disagreeÓ and 5 being Òstrongly agreeÓ. Report of confidence in duties related to the integrated clinical experience showed improvement in all areas. The measure of confidence in communication with patients, colleagues and clinical instructors increased from 79% before mentoring, to 91% following. Confidence in patient examination also increased from 32% prior to mentoring, to 67% following. Other areas improved including confidence with evaluation, diagnosis and developing a plan of care. Seventy-five percent of first year students reported an increased confidence in patient care following the mentor experience and 83% found the mentoring program to be helpful. Blinded, qualitative comments overwhelmingly favored the experience and were consistent between mentor and protege.
Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme:
The results of this study indicate benefits of peer mentoring when combined with a high impact practice integrated clinical service-learning model, in the attitudes of first year DPT students. Current literature also shows increased skills and confidence in communication and teamwork among 1st year entry level students when peer teaching was incorporated into their education. Other studies describe peer mentors as more relatable to their student experiences than faculty relationships. Further analysis of the qualitative data in this study may give additional insight to the specific relationships involved in peer mentoring.