Clinical education is an essential component of all physical therapy curriculum.While physical therapy practice and academic preparation of physical therapists has changed significantly over the past thirty years, clinical education has not undergone as significant a transformation, raising the question of the effectiveness of traditional clinical education models in today’s practice environment.Growing enrollment in physical therapy schools has also created a need to think creatively to meet the clinical education needs of these students.In recent years several new education models have been introduced and described in the literature, however there is limited information published concerning clinicians’ perspectives on these evolving models.This study was designed to gather insight into clinicians’ perspectives on various clinical education models and factors which influence their decision to participate in clinical education.
A survey of demographic and Likert scale questions was mailed to 1000 randomly selected Pennsylvania licensed physical therapists with equal representation from each of the seven districts identified by the Pennsylvania Physical Therapy Association. Surveys were mailed with pre-stamped return addressed envelopes with no personal identification required to assure participant confidentiality.
246 surveys were returned, of which 231 met the inclusion criteria.Data was analyzed utilizing Chi-square tests to correlate results from Likert questions with reported demographics.Data analysis demonstrated a well distributed sample across all demographics and practice settings. Participants’ responses strongly supported a preference for traditional full time 8-12 week experiences, with significantly less support for 6 and 12 month experiences. The majority of clinicians were not supportive of limited clinical partnerships, or the use of part-time integrated experiences, and most felt that 6-12 month experiences were best suited for post graduate residency. Responses regarding 2:1 models were mixed across practice settings. Organization restrictions, time commitment,staffing and varied curriculum were identified as the main barriers to participation in clinical education.
Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Through the Looking Glass: Transforming Physical Therapy Education
While 2:1 models and 6-12 month experiences may be viable models for some practice settings, programs must recognize that these models may not be supported by all clinicians, conducive to all settings, or in the best interest of all students if we are attempting to prepare students for a lifetime of clinical practice across a variety of practice settings. When determining best practice in clinical education all vested parties must be considered. Clinician support is crucial to the success of any clinical education curriculum.Including clinicians in discussions on clinical education is essential to assure a mutually beneficial experience for students and clinical instructors, while also determining best practice for preparing the next generation of physical therapists.
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