Raising the bar - Empowering students to provide altruistic and compassionate care in a pro-bono, neuromuscular, mentored integrated clinical experience.


Describe the development and implementation of a pro bono integrated clinical experience (ICE) that holistically prepares students for altruistic and compassionate practice.

Methods and/or Description of Project

Physical Therapy Core Values describe altruism as “providing pro-bono services to underserved and under-represented populations that go beyond expected standards of practice” and compassion as “understanding the socio-cultural, economic and psychological influences by demonstrating respect and empathy without bias”. While these characteristics are clearly defined, the process by which we promote the development of altruistic, compassionate practitioners has not been adequately elucidated. The challenge in PT education is not merely to describe and define these core values but to engage students in active learning experiences.

A pro-bono ICE was developed to address the following objectives:
-Value patient differences and challenges
-Empathize with patient’s emotional responses
-Practice active listening
-Advocate for patients needs in an underserved neuromuscular population
-Provide continuity of care
-Challenge the clinical culture by providing mentorship amongst and between students, patients, faculty and clinicians

This pro-bono ICE served community dwelling individuals with neuromuscular diagnoses. Two students examined and treated a patient over the course of two semesters. The structure of this clinic gave students the opportunity to not only develop their clinical reasoning and psychomotor skills but also develop strong interpersonal relationships with their patient as well as faculty and clinical mentors. The clinic experientially raised student awareness of the interpersonal core values of altruism and compassion.


All constituents benefited in the following areas.

Students actively engaged in all aspects of compassionate patient care in a low stakes, mentored setting.
Patients benefited from individualized care (beyond typical standards of care) from students and clinicians.
Patients had the opportunity to mentor the students as they developed their interpersonal and psychomotor skills.
Clinicians and faculty acted as role models of the core values.
The local community benefited with free healthcare and equipment.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Through the Looking Glass: Transforming Physical Therapy Education

How do you change the educational culture so that students understand the intrinsic value of altruism and compassion in physical therapy practice? This session will highlight the relevance and need for experiential training of the core values. Students, educators and clinicians can contribute to a cultural shift that emphasizes compassionate care. The benefit of this modified ICE model is the direct integration of core values in the examination and treatment of individuals with neuromuscular diagnoses in preparation of the next generation of autonomous, compassionate practitioners.


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Course Objectives

Participants will:
-Understand the core values of altruism and compassion in physical therapy education.
-Formulate specific strategies to support the development of altruism and compassionate care within a modified ICE experience.
-Appreciate the benefits of student and patient interpersonal experiences within a mentored setting.
-Push the boundaries of typical ICEs to formally promote PT Core Values and healthcare equity.

Instructional Methods

Lecture, discussion, video presentation

Tentative Outline/Schedule

10 minutes: Define PT Core Values
15 minutes: Identify the challenges in the specific promotion of PT Core Values in PT education
20 minutes: Describe the development and implementation of a pro-bono, mentored, neuromuscular ICE with experiential emphasis of PT Core Values
15 minutes: Patient, student and clinician video examples
15 minutes: Benefits and outcomes
15 minutes: Q&A

BACK to Abstract Results

  • Control #: 2742931
  • Type: Educational Session
  • Event/Year: ELC2017
  • Authors: Dr. Gail Stern, Tara Maroney, Diane O'Sullivan
  • Keywords:

BACK to Abstract Results