Experiential Learning in DPT Curriculum: Partnering with Community Members in a Neurologic Interventions Course

Alexis Breanne Cherven, Jamie Haines

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Introduction: Experiential learning has been used in entry-level physical therapy (PT) education programs to provide opportunities for students to engage in clinically relevant situations for development of skills desired in PT graduates. Although found to be beneficial to students, there is limited data devoted to the impact of such experiences on community partners (CPs). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of a 4-week embedded experiential learning activity in a neurologic interventions course on the CPs and their second year Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students. Methods: Forty-five students and 17 CPs participated in Physical Therapy – Chippewa Outreach in Neurorehabilitation and Education with Community Teams (PT-CONECT). Students partnered with CPs and provided four sessions of PT intervention and education. CPs and students completed surveys and end of experience feedback forms then participated in semi-structured interviews. Qualitative data analysis was completed through constant comparative methods and Z-tests for two sample means were performed for the pre/post course learning objective confidence surveys. Results: The CPs 1) felt valued for being part of student education 2) enjoyed the social interaction with the students and other CPs 3) gained a new perspective on the management of their neurological condition. Students reported the PT-CONECT program 1) improved their clinical skills and confidence 2) provided a newfound desire to give back to the community 3) resulted in a greater interest in working with the neurological population. Discussion: The PT-CONECT program provided the CPs with a new prospective on the management of their neurological condition, which resulted in reported improvements in their physical function and quality of life. The program also provided a platform by which students could integrate didactic knowledge while working with CPs under distant supervision from the course instructors. CPs were valuable in providing real-time, real-condition responses, which further challenged students’ critical thinking and adaptability. Conclusion: This particular experiential learning opportunity, through collaboration with CPs, is an effective way to provide valuable service to community members with neurologic conditions, while also promoting clinical skills and confidence in DPT students.
Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - Jan 2019
EventAmerican Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Meeting - Washington, D.C.
Duration: Jan 1 2019Jan 31 2019


ConferenceAmerican Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Meeting


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