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An Innovative Doctor of Physical Therapy Experiential Learning Opportunity With Older Adults

A Description of a Unique Academic and Long-Term Care Partnership

Lojovich, Jeanne, PT, PhD; Olson-Kellogg, Becky, PT, DPT, GCS; Davila, Heather, MPA

Journal of Physical Therapy Education: March 2019 - Volume 33 - Issue 1 - p 23–30
doi: 10.1097/JTE.0000000000000070
Method Model Presentation

Background and Purpose. Despite the dramatic increase in older adults and the reality that this population often comprises a substantial proportion of physical therapists' client base, many Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students feel unprepared or less willing to provide care to older adults after graduation.

Method/Model Description and Evaluation. The University of Minnesota DPT program developed a unique model for all first-year DPT students to gain experiential learning with older adults through a year-long Clerkship experience. In addition to regular assessments of student learning, a pre/postmeasure of student attitudes toward older adults and a thematic analysis of student reflective journals were conducted.

Outcomes. Students entered the DPT program with positive attitudes toward older adults. Although limited changes in student attitudes was observed over time through the quantitative pre/postmeasure, student reflective journals revealed more nuance, with many students describing gains in knowledge and confidence in practicing with older adults, as well as more positive attitudes toward older adults and geriatrics over time.

Discussion and Conclusion. The University of Minnesota DPT first-year Clerkship experience is a unique experiential learning program that provides DPT students hands-on experience with older adults over an academic year in a real-life setting. This innovative approach dually contributes to the development of DPT students' essential competencies and has been shown to be beneficial to first-year DPT students in developing positive attitudes toward and comfort in working with older adults, thereby advancing toward a more prepared physical therapist workforce in the area of geriatrics.

Jeanne Lojovich is an assistant professor of Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Concordia University St. Paul, 282 Concordia Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104 ( Please address all correspondence to Jeanne Lojovich.

Becky Olson-Kellogg is an assistant professor in the Division of Physical Therapy, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Medical School, University of Minnesota.

Heather Davila is a PhD candidate in Evaluation Studies, College of Education and Human Development; and Research Fellow in the Division of Health Policy & Management, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Received November 13, 2017

Accepted July 30, 2018

Copyright 2019 © Academy of Physical Theraphy Education
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