Delivery of acute care
content in physical therapist (PT) education programs varies greatly. A new course included a series of 6 progressively complex, high fidelity, immersive acute care simulation
-based learning experiences (SBLEs) using standardized patients. The primary purpose of this study was to examine the students' perceived value of the SBLEs in relationship to their acute care
clinical experiences (CEs). Self-efficacy and clinical performance were also measured to further evaluate course outcomes.
Students completing acute care
CEs were recruited from 3 consecutive cohorts of a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. The control group completed the curriculum before implementing the new course. The experimental groups participated in the first and second years of the course, respectively.
A total of 60 students across the 3 cohorts completed the study. Experimental groups completed the course before their acute care
CE. Focus groups were conducted to explore student perspectives with both experimental groups on completion of their respective CEs. Self-efficacy was assessed using the Acute Care
Confidence Survey before the course, after course completion, and midterm of the CE. Clinical performance was evaluated using the PT Clinical Performance Instrument rating scale at both midterm and final of the CE.
Qualitative analysis revealed 2 main themes: (1) SBLEs foster self-efficacy in application of the 3 domains of learning and (2) students develop a wider perspective of the dynamic professional roles of the acute care
PT. Self-efficacy significantly increased, and there was an upward trend, although no significant difference, in clinical performance for students who completed the course.
Student performance in the acute care
setting was positively influenced by a series of SBLEs. A simulation
-based acute care
course can be effectively incorporated into a DPT curriculum to foster student's professional identity in multiple domains.