RESEARCH REPORTS: EDUCATION: CLINICAL BOTTOM LINE
“How could I apply this information?”
Experiential learning opportunities provide physical therapist students with exposure to children and are beneficial to students' learning. These learning opportunities with children require time and effort to ensure students have access to children in educational, clinical, and community settings. As physical therapists, we have the ability to assist with creating, structuring, and mentoring high-quality experiential learning opportunities. We can serve as a critical link for students' learning by sharing our clinical space, our patients, our knowledge, our expertise, and offering our supervision. We have the responsibility as pediatric physical therapists to generate more experiential learning opportunities that engage DPT students with children. Excuses of feasibility and barriers of time and productivity must be set aside to meet this effective form of student learning.
“What should I be mindful about when applying this information?”
While there is a core set of pediatric competencies and CAPTE criteria that apply to all physical therapy education programs, the clinical opportunities and learning experiences vary within each program. This study provided an example of success from a single education program with a smaller student enrollment than many DPT programs. The pediatric physical therapist teaching faculty in this program facilitated a weekly, structured experiential learning opportunity with multiple children and DPT students simultaneously. Other programs may be unable to provide this extensive an experience due to policy, location, scheduling, or supervision. Developing relationships external to universities can be challenging and present multiple risks, given the need for student travel and patient/client interaction. At present, there is no single method or process for experiential learning to disseminate across all DPT education programs. Instead, physical therapist educators must optimize the resources and partnerships unique to their programs to establish sustainable and beneficial experiential learning opportunities for their DPT students.
Samantha Sawade, PT, DPT
University of Colorado Pediatric Residency Program, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Mary Jane Rapport, PT, DPT, PhD, FAPTA
Physical Therapy Program, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus