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An Interprofessional Team Experience—Value and Timing in a Doctor of Physical Therapy Curriculum

Schiller, Martha PT, DPT; Gilkey, Stephanie PA-C, MS; Mendez, Jennifer PhD; Dunleavy, Kim PT, PhD, OCS, FNAP

Journal of Physical Therapy Education: June 2019 - Volume 33 - Issue 2 - p 126–133
doi: 10.1097/JTE.0000000000000088
Research Report

Introduction. Intentional interprofessional experiences (IPE) in physical therapy education are needed to address Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education criteria and ensure student readiness for practice. The purpose of this study was to compare Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) student perceptions of participation in an older adult interprofessional team visit (IPTV) between 3 cohorts at different points in the professional entry level curriculum.

Methods. A retrospective comparison of different cohorts was possible at different time points due to curricular changes. Ninety one DPT students in 3 cohorts from 2013 to 2015 participated in the same IPTV experience format in their first, second or third year of the professional program. Doctor of Physical Therapy students were matched with students from 2 disciplines. All participated in a team and discipline-specific orientation and debriefing and completed an assessment with an older adult living in the community and a prequestionnaire/postquestionnaire. Results from postvisit surveys were examined using nonparametric statistics, and open-ended questions were coded and analyzed for themes. Responses were compared for differences across the 3 years.

Results. There were significant differences across cohorts. Student reflections were positive with themes emerging across all cohorts for communication, teamwork, and learning. First-year students reported the greatest overall agreement for all learning outcome statements in comparison to the second or third cohort of students.

Discussion and Conclusions. The IPTV experience provided a unique opportunity for students to work in an interprofessional team while learning about issues experienced by community dwelling older adults. The activity was ideal to provide early active community participant exposure and meet curricular objectives for communication strategies but could be used for the team-based interprofessional objectives at any stage. While student perceptions of the activity were very positive for all cohorts, this activity was valued by the first-year group more than second or third years. Timing and design of community-based IPE activities should be intentionally sequenced to meet learning objectives suitable for the stage of professional development and take into account exposure to patient care as well as other logistical and curricular sequencing to maximize learning and motivation.

Martha Schiller is an assistant professor (Clinical) and director of Clinical Education, Physical Therapy Program at the Wayne State University, WSU, EACPH 2250, 259 Mack Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201 ( Please address all correspondence to Martha Schiller.

Stephanie Gilkey is an associate professor (Clinical) and director, Physician Assistant Department at the University of Michigan-Flint.

Jennifer Mendez is an assistant professor and director of CoCurricular Programs, School of Medicine at the Wayne State University.

Kim Dunleavy is a clinical associate professor and the director of Professional Education and Community Engagement, Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Florida, previously at Wayne State University at the onset of the IPE involvement described in the article.

Partial funding was provided by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

Institutional Review Board from Wayne State University: #099410B3X.

Received November 27, 2018

Accepted November 16, 2018

Copyright 2019 © Academy of Physical Theraphy Education
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