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PT on the Run

The PT Student Summit

Published March 19, 2014 6:00 PM by Michael Kelley

Over the past few months we've had a couple PT students come and go. Most of them were somewhere in the middle of their clinical education and had no idea what they wanted to do with their PT degree upon graduation. As I watched the various CIs and students interact with patients, families, other medical staff and each other, I found that from my vantage point, the clinical education program at our hospital perhaps left something to be desired.

I've had a couple of students during my tenure at the hospital and looking back (hindsight is always 20/20, right?) I realized that I may not have created the best clinical learning experience for them, and I feel like that happens more often than not at our hospital. I don't want to be critical of my coworkers, because I'm just as guilty, but it's had me wondering, what can we do better to improve the overall acute-care experience for our students?

So, I met with my supervisor a few weeks ago and proposed a "Student Summit." Essentially my plan is to bring together some OTs and PTs to brainstorm ideas to help make clinical experiences better for not only our students, but our CIs as well. Last year, I took the APTA's CI Credentialing Course (yeah, yeah, I know, perhaps one "perk" the APTA offers... so sue me!). Personally, I found the course kind of eye-opening. One of the major takeaways I had was this simple idea: "Realize we aren't there to train new employees, but rather teach students to be new therapists."

The instructors of the course (who happened to be old professors of mine from Marquette) really harped on this idea that we as the CIs were there to ensure that our students were actually learning. Not just going through the motions, not shooting for some predetermined productivity level, but really learning how to better interact with, evaluate and treat patients. That's my driving force for starting up this Student Summit.

Our staff will hopefully be meeting in the next month or so to sit down and discuss how we can really improve our program so that students feel by the end of their time with us, they have actually learned something and maybe have a better appreciation for physical therapy in the acute-care setting. And likewise, maybe we will stumble upon benefits for us as CIs as well.

How do your locations ensure that a student's clinical experiences are beneficial to all parties involved? Any thoughts or ideas I can bring to our Student Summit?

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Have you asked former students to come back and provide feedback? Granted, students provide feedback as they're walking out the door , but as you say, hindsight is is 20/20 and they may not have a good feel for their experience until a few weeks of reflection.

Can you get 10 students to come back for a discussion/focus group? Offer a pizza lunch!

Good luck, sounds like a good initiative.

Dean Metz March 20, 2014 12:34 PM

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