Background and Purpose.
Today's health care providers must be prepared to work with patients and clients from a wide variety of backgrounds and places. Therefore, educators are challenged to develop and provide opportunities for students to achieve a wider worldview. Many physical therapist education programs are adding international opportunities to meet this challenge. The purposes and formats of these programs vary widely.
Method/Model Description and Evaluation.
This article describes a unique program called “Broadening Experiences” (BEs), which provides students with multiple, unique international opportunities. This program has been evolving over the past 11 years to provide students with unique opportunities to explore physical therapist education and practice around the world. It is now a 2-credit required course that is an integral part of the curriculum. Each BE is highly structured and has specific requirements, goals, and objectives. Measuring outcomes is important, and over the evolution of the program, various measures have been used to evaluate the BE program and student outcomes. They include assessment of students, host sites, and the overall program.
The program is very successful and has become a recruitment tool. Outcomes have been overwhelmingly positive. Although detailed outcome data are beyond the scope of this article, samples of program and student outcome data are provided. The purposes of this article are to describe a method for increasing the availability of international opportunities for physical therapist students and to provide various important qualitative and quantitative outcomes that might be considered and measured by institutions considering similar programs.
Discussion and Conclusion.
The BE model is an example of how physical therapist education programs can develop international experiences. The model exemplifies that it is possible to develop a dynamic program that can accommodate many students.