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Journey of a DPT Student

Interprofessionalism and PT

Published September 26, 2011 3:51 PM by Lauren Rosso

A few days ago, my entire class attended Pitt's "Interprofessional Forum," an event meant to encourage collaboration among health professionals. Attendance for all first-year health and medical students was mandatory. While the concept may have been innovative, the event was poorly executed (for anyone other than medical and nursing students).

In the two hours that we sat there, physical therapy was only mentioned twice. The first was during a mock evaluation of a patient, who denied having any form of PT. The second time was when a third-year medical student acknowledged that physical therapists can likely perform a better knee eval than they can. We didn't even have a faculty representative on the panel! The only representation from the entire field of rehabilitation was an audiologist. The longer we sat there, the more the event felt like a slap in the face.

All of us are very proud of the profession that we are working toward, and to be overlooked at a forum meant to encourage teamwork felt like the ultimate exclusion. Needless to say, we had a lot of negative feedback to give. More importantly, I think it left us all feeling a bit disenchanted with the medical field and what our roles will eventually be. Is this something that many people have experienced, or was this forum a poor representation of the actual working climate? Our professors have assured us that their professional interactions have been mostly positive, but I'm curious to see how everyone else feels.

I know that the field of physical therapy is changing and working toward certain goals in the next five to 10 years. I just hope that by then, given direct access and all of the other developments, PT will be an important part of a patient's plan of care.


Toni- you bring up some really great points.  As we start to emphasize things like early prevention and wholistic treatment, I wonder if the role of PT will be more widely recognized and respected?

I also wonder if this is something that we have to take into our own hands?  By taking opportunities to display our skills and knowledge, I would hope that we could convey our abilities to other health professionals.  It's discouraging to know that this attitude isn't isolated to Pitt's first-year health students.

Lauren Rosso September 28, 2011 9:53 PM

Unfortunately what you describe is fairly common in the medical community.   Physical Therapy is not well represented.  Physical Therapy seems to be more of an after thought.  I have received several brouchures for stroke symposiums.  PT is never mentioned. I have not seen any lectures listed that would be helpful for a PT working with stroke patients.  

I don't know what we can do about this.  It isn't a problem of ignorance about our existance.  It's more about ignorance of what we do and/or lack of respect for our skills.  The docs I work with all know what I do yet not one of them can explain it to a patient.  

Until recently medical emphasis has been on saving the patient.  Little thought was put into what would happen to the patient after that.  Physical Therapy isn't very important in a mind set like that.  Neither is the quality of the patient's life after being saved.  

Toni Patt September 28, 2011 1:17 PM

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