Health promotion has become an important focus of professional physical therapist education. The combination of service learning, clinical education, and research presents a unique opportunity for students to develop the full professional role of the physical therapist. The purpose of this paper is to describe a community-based health promotion program that meets this full range of objectives. Students develop, implement, and evaluate a program that meets the health needs of an identified population within the community, using education, screening, and various intervention strategies. The project is carried out across 1 full academic year. Faculty and clinical instructors serve as advisors.
A fall course covers the full scope of the project, including conducting a needs assessment and developing a proposal to cover the program's theoretical foundation, goals and objectives, educational and therapeutic interventions, an evaluation plan, budgeting, and marketing. Students carry out the programs over an 8-week period in the spring semester and evaluate it in a follow-up session in the summer. Students complete a final written report that is presented to the community partner with recommendations for new initiatives or improved procedures. Students deliver oral presentations in a public forum.
Several stakeholders, including students, faculty, and community partners, all benefit from these programs. Students gain confidence in leadership and design of health promotion programs as a facet of clinical education and professional practice; projects can contribute to faculty scholarship and community networks; community partners take advantage of needed pro bono services.
Health promotion programs can be an important component of clinical education, providing opportunities for practice in community settings. The projects address objectives related to research, evidence-based practice, education, administration, marketing, and consultation.
Leslie G Portneyis professor and program director of the Graduate Programs in Physical Therapy at the MGH Institute of Health Professions, Charlestown Navy Yard, 36 1st Avenue, Boston, MA 02129 (email@example.com). Please address all correspondence to Leslie Portney.
Donna L Applebaumis clinical assistant professor and associate director of clinical education at the MGH Institute of Health Professions, Boston, MA (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This paper is adapted from a presentation at the 2006 APTA Combined Sections Meeting in San Diego, California.
Received September 15, 2006, and accepted October 10, 2006.