The efficacy of self-directed modules for clinical learning: Advanced competencies in entry-level physical therapy education

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BACKGROUND: Prior to graduation, students often express an interest to advance clinical and professional skills in teaching, research, administration, and various niche practice areas. The acquisition of advanced education in selected areas of practice is believed to improve employment opportunities, accelerate career advancement including eligibility for professional certifications, and contribute to personal satisfaction in the profession. PURPOSE: The purpose of this paper is to (1) describe an innovative model of education, the Directed Practice Experience (DPE) elective, that incorporates a student-initiated learning process designed to achieve student-identified professional goals, and (2) report the outcomes for graduates who have completed the DPE in an entry-level program in physical therapy education. METHODS: Students who met select criteria were eligible to complete a DPE. Applicants designed a 4- to 6-week clinical education experience consisting of stated rationale for personal and professional growth, examples of leadership and service, and self-directed objectives that are beyond entry-level expectations as measured by the revised Physical Therapist Clinical Performance Instrument, version 2006. RESULTS: Twenty-six students have completed DPEs since 2005. Fifty percent resulted in new academic partnerships. At least 25% of graduates now serve as clinical instructors for the entry-level program. Those who participated in DPEs have also completed post-graduate residencies, attained ABPTS Board certifications, authored peerreviewed publications, and taught in both PT and residency programs. CONCLUSION: The DPE model allows qualified students to acquire advanced personal skills and knowledge prior to graduation in areas of professional practice that exceed entry-level expectations. The model is applicable to all CAPTE accredited physical therapy education programs and is especially beneficial for academic programs desiring to form new community partnerships for student clinical education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e83-e91
JournalJournal of Allied Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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