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Physical Therapist Clinical Education in Pelvic Health

Survey of Current Views

Thurston, Lydia A. Futch PT, DSc1; Zastrow, Audra L. DPT, WCS2; Van Der Laan, Krista F. DPT, OCS3; Kilmartin, Laurie DPT, WCS4; Richardson, Sara DPT, OCS5

Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy: January/March 2019 - Volume 43 - Issue 1 - p 10–21
doi: 10.1097/JWH.0000000000000111
Research Reports

Background: Physical therapists have expressed an interest in understanding the current standards of entry-level clinical education (CE) in pelvic floor (PF) physical therapy.

Objective: To report the views among the American Physical Therapy Association Section on Women's Health (SoWH) members on structuring PF CE for student physical therapists (SPTs).

Study Design: Survey research report.

Methods: A survey developed by the SoWH CE Task Force was e-mailed to 2287 members of the SoWH in July 2017, with 351 members responding (17.9% response rate). Results were analyzed using descriptive statistics to provide insight into member characteristics and perceptions of SPT participation in PF CE.

Results: Most respondents (73.2%) reported that SPTs should participate in PF CE, whereas 26.8% reported that SPTs should participate in PF CE only at exposure level or not at all. Less than half of the respondents thought SPTs should have opportunities to perform external perineal (41.2%), internal vaginal (34.7%), or internal rectal (24.2%) examination and treatment. There were relationships between indicating the view that SPTs should participate above exposure level in PF CE and respondents being younger than 50 years, having a DPT degree, having Women's Health Clinical Specialist certification, or being a credentialed clinical instructor. Conversely, there were relationships between indicating the view that SPTs should not participate above exposure level and respondents being aged 50+ years or having Certificate of Achievement in Pregnancy & Postpartum certification (P < .05).

Conclusion: There is agreement among SoWH member respondents that SPTs should have opportunities to participate in PF CE, and agreement with this view is associated with level of education and younger age.

1Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama.

2CentraCare Health, Long Prairie, Minnesota.

3Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois.

4Rusk Rehabilitation, New York, New York.

5Kaiser Permanente Orange County, Orange, California.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2019 by the Section on Women's Health, American Physical Therapy Association.
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