Doctoral physical therapy (DPT) programs are expected to provide students with educational experiences in classroom and in clinical settings and with all age demographics, including pediatrics. There is significant discrepancy in the delivery and assessment of pediatric content in DPT programs. One effective and evidence-based strategy to address this discrepancy and deliver pediatric content is experiential learning (EL). Our case report illustrates how EL with a symbiotic community partner can enable DPT programs to effectively address the current limitations in direct contact hours and clinical experiences in pediatrics.
We formed a structured and formal partnership with a local community fitness and gymnastics facility to provide our students with pediatric EL opportunities outside of the classroom and traditional clinic settings. Each student is required to engage in structured and focused play-based interactions with typically and atypically developing children 1 hour per week for two 8-week EL periods under direct supervision of a certified pediatric clinical specialist.
Students demonstrated appropriate professional behaviors, increased self-efficacy, achievement of the pediatric course learning objectives, and attainment of 3 Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy essential core competencies. With our community partner, 87% of the children demonstrated improvement in their gross motor skills.
Our case report details an innovative approach to use EL to increase the number of direct contact hours with the pediatric population through a symbiotic community partnerships that positions our students to reach entry-level competency with the pediatric population upon graduation.
Mitch Wolden is associate professor in the University of Jamestown Physical Therapy Program at the University of Jamestown, 4190 26th, Avenue South, Fargo, ND 58104 (email@example.com). Please address all correspondence to Mitch Wolden.
Brittany Anderson is assistant professor in the University of Jamestown Physical Therapy Program at the University of Jamestown.
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
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There was no financial support other than the salaries of the investigators.
Received September 21, 2018
Received in revised form November 16, 2018
Accepted December 12, 2018