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PT and the Greater Good

What if Patients Decided Who Gets Into PT School?

Published October 21, 2014 4:32 PM by Dean Metz

One of the things that struck a chord with me during the Physiotherapy UK conference last weekend was the number of lay people present and involved on committees. There is a culture of involving service users on all decisions regarding health and social care here in England. I like it. It helps keep professionals from over-medicalizing everything and reminds us of why we do what we do and for whom we work.

When people were talking about service changes and redesign, a common question was, "Were there any service users on your team?" There were lay representatives in every lecture or workshop that I attended.

One of those workshops, on ethics, provided me with this interesting story. We learned of a university that instituted a board of service users to observe and comment on their practice. To be fair, they didn't just think it was a good idea. The process of re-validation of their program depended on it. This group of four heard about the process of "compensation," meaning that if any students failed one component of their study, they would advance onward so long as they passed all their other modules.

The service users spoke up and put a stop to that. They then became more involved in the goings-on and now are actually part of the committee that determines who is or is not accepted into the program. They essentially ask, "Would I want this person providing my care?" It's not enough to have the grades to get into this program; one must also have a caring nature and be viewed by patients as being the right fit.

I thought back to how difficult it is to be admitted to American PT programs, primarily because of the unbelievable GPA required now. What do you think? Would having service users on panels help to better humanize the process and the choices of entrants?

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2 comments

Not sure if I would like it.  People change over the course of their careers, some have made a larger impact than others throughout their time in the field.  Others, who graduated at the top of their class, have done nothing significant in 10 years to advance the field.  

I agree a better process needs to be in place to enter a medical program, however, when will the lay people stop?

Pretty soon they will want potential mechanics to go through a better screening process or how about culinary students? Their subjective voice can ruin many aspiring students.  

Some programs are designed to pick the brightest students but fail to pick the best.  

Jason Marketti October 25, 2014 2:01 AM

I would love to see a different admittance process for PT/PTA schools here in the US. GPA is not adequate. A good student does not necessarily make a good clinician!

Maureen Thornby, Physical Therapy - Dr, Request PT October 22, 2014 8:11 PM
Bradenton FL

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About this Blog


    Dean Metz
    Occupation: Staff Development Specialist
    Setting: New York, NY – Newcastle Upon Tyne, Great Britain
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