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Journey of a DPT Student

Final Projects -- Performance Improvement

Published December 10, 2012 12:46 PM by Lauren Rosso

We recently had to attend the third year's presentations of their performance-improvement projects, the final requirement of the program and what looks like the most frustrating assignment to date. The annual project basically populates an existing database with key information regarding process of care and patient outcome information.

From what I can gather (we haven't yet been formally given our assignments), each of us is assigned to a patient population and throughout the course of our year-long affiliation will collect data on appropriate patients, interventions and outcomes. We'll then present that information to the faculty, they'll question our intervention selections, we'll question whether or not we'll pass the program, and then we'll sit down. At least that's what it felt like when I was watching.

The patient populations range from level of mobility independence to general orthopedic diagnoses: neck, low back, knee etc. Your assignment, in general, will reflect your clinical placement. I suspect that I will be in one of the mobility groups, but who knows? The project serves to provide a concrete and inarguable way to track our success as clinicians. Are we selecting the appropriate intervention strategies? Are we recognizing and addressing relative comorbidities that will have an impact on the care that we provide? And, most importantly, are our patients getting better?

Sitting in the audience as a second-year student and retrospectively looking at these cases, I'm sure it's easy to think that I would have recognized clinical prediction rules, classifications and indications for certain treatments. In one year year, I'm sure I'll think differently.

We're constantly being reminded that you can't fix what you don't measure, and I absolutely abide by that. That doesn't mean I'm not dreading the embarrassment of having to present my follies to faculty and classmates. That being said, I think if we complete this project in the way it's intended, we have an amazing measurement tool to reference as we attempt to progress in our clinical careers.

The fact of the matter is that in a year, students or not, we're expected to be competent clinicians and our decisions are going to impact the health and wellness of our patients. I'm glad I'll have a way to see if I'm having a positive influence, and an easier way to recognize what I need to work on.

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