Clinical Bottom Line
“How could I apply this Information?”
The results of this survey indicate that there is a lack of consistency in the number of hours and types of experiences provided to professional students in the pediatric specialty area. Although the mean number of hours dedicated to pediatrics was about 100, there is wide variability with some programs offering only 35 hours of content related to pediatrics throughout the curriculum. Although most programs reported that they felt the number of hours dedicated to pediatrics is adequate, a manager, supervisor, or owner of a pediatric physical therapy practice may ask adequate for what? Although graduate physical therapists are considered ready to provide services across our scope of practice, with so few hours dedicated to pediatrics the confidence and competence of the therapist may be less than adequate to practice in pediatric settings, many of which are community-based programs without a great deal of support or availability of peer mentors.
The Section on Pediatrics may want to consider collaborating with the Section on Education on developing pediatric-oriented learning activities and content that can be used across the curricula in all courses including orthopedics and administration. To expect that all programs can devote a course to pediatrics or require a pediatric clinical placement may be unrealistic.
“What should I be mindful about in applying this information?”
The study describes basic information about the time dedicated to pediatrics within entry-level physical therapy curriculums. As teaching methods and options available to expand content areas have grown (online modules, webinars, etc), it would be very helpful to expand this information gathering to include structure of curriculum and methods used to enhance curricula. Traditional use of teacher-facilitated didactic presentations or laboratory experiences may be unrealistic given the amount of content required in a professional preparation program. Professional preparation programs would find it helpful to have pediatric “experts” create alternative teaching strategies to enhance their programs. This is especially pertinent given the faculty outlook described in the article. To expect that all pediatric faculty members will be replaced with pediatric faculty members as they retire may also be unrealistic.
Toby Long, PT, PhD, FAPTA
Georgetown University, Washington, DC