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Toni Talks about PT Today

Continuing Education Should Be Evidence-Based

Published March 28, 2013 4:53 PM by Toni Patt
I'm a peer reviewer for the Texas continuing education program. I review submissions for neuro, geriatric, acute and general so I get to see a lot what is being proposed for continuing education. Texas has a specific form that must be completed for each course submitted for review. It includes speaker qualifications, specific goals, a statement of the how the course relates to physical therapy and requests a copy of the certificate to be presented.

There's just one thing missing. Where is the evidence? Nowhere on the form, or anywhere else, is there a blank requesting evidence to support what the speaker is saying. I don't know if this is unique to Texas. When I teach in other states, I've been asked to provide a list of references. One even wanted a list of my prior teaching experience. Texas asks for none of that.

I think this is how courses get approved that shouldn't be. A few weeks ago, I received an approval for a topic I know has no evidence to support it. I did a literature search when I got the form. As much as I wanted to, I couldn't deny the approval for that reason. That isn't a criterion we use for approval. It should be.

If we're going to say everything we do is based on evidence, then the continuing education we attend to renew our licenses should be evidence-based. Asking for an explanation of how the topic relates to physical therapy doesn't cut it. One course claimed that a happy brain would enable it to learn better. Another person submitted a personal training program. Those are pretty easy to dismiss. But some of the evidence-less stuff is more mainstream.

I overheard someone spouting such nonsense at a horse show. She used the technique in her clinic and was working on one of the show kids who was having cramps. She said relaxing her back muscles would relieve the cramps. When she finished, she recommended the course to me. Later I did a search. No evidence for the technique and even less evidence for what she was doing. And that course was approved for CEU credit in Texas.

I think a list of references, no older than 10 years, would be sufficient. In fact, we could say the five most recent. That would certainly cut down on the requests I receive for approval. It might not improve the quality of the program, but at least it would be evidence-based.

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