Development of an integrated clinical experience combining a Spanish course and pro-bono clinic participation for physical therapy students


The purpose of this presentation is to describe the process and student feedback about an integrated clinical experience which allows students in a Spanish course for physical therapists to practice newly learned skills in the clinical setting


The physical therapy educational program at UM offers a 14 hour elective course in Spanish for the physical therapist which provides training and skills in both communication in Spanish and cultural competence. Student feedback from the Spanish language course suggests that students value the instruction, but have limited opportunities to practice this new skill in a timely manner after learning it.
A second elective course involves 12 hours of participation in a pro-bono clinic that reinforces the values of altruism and social responsibility while providing an opportunity for mentored practice of clinical skills. The pro-bono clinic serves a majority of Spanish speaking patients. These two elective courses have been partially integrated to provide the students the opportunity to receive mentored practice in communication with Spanish speaking patients in the physical therapy clinical setting.
The Spanish elective and the pro-bono elective run concurrently. In the pro-bono clinic, students work in groups of two, with a faculty mentor, to provide physical therapy services to patients in an underserved and underinsured population.
A second group of students taking the Spanish course participated in the pro-bono clinic by first interviewing the patient in the waiting area, while being mentored by a Spanish speaking peer. Subsequently, the student accompanied the patient for the remainder of the treatment session, continuing to communicate with them in Spanish to verbally instruct in physical therapy interventions.
Students in the Spanish class completed a reflection paper after the experience.


Students reported that the opportunity to practice Spanish language as they are learning these skills helped them to gain confidence in their ability to communicate. They felt that the pro-bono clinic provided a supportive and encouraging environment to practice newly learned language skills. They also recognized strategies utilized by non-Spanish speaking therapists to communicate with patients.
Finally, they gained an appreciation for cultural differences in communication styles and preferences

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

The population of Hispanic adults in the United States is expected to double by 2050. Cultural competence and communication skills for physical therapists and physical therapy students are important components of professionalism. Training in cultural competence is required content for accredited physical therapy educational programs.
The integration of the pro-bono clinic and the Spanish elective for physical therapy students offers a unique opportunity to practice newly acquired skills in patient communication and cultural competence in a supervised and supportive learning environment


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  • Control #: 2748080
  • Type: Posters
  • Event/Year: ELC2017
  • Authors: Dr. Elsa Drevyn, Neva Kirk-Sanchez, Teresa Glynn, Johanna Segura
  • Keywords:

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