Principal Investigator:Valerie Strunk, Director of Clinical Education, Lecturer, Department of Physical Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Co-investigators:Peter Altenburger, Assistant Professor and Department of Physical Therapy Co-Chair; School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences; and Bobby Lassiter, Adjunct Faculty, Department of Physical Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Project Title:Curricular Enhancement through Integrated Clinical Education

Funding Level:$9,050

Abstract:The sustainability of traditional curricular models in physical therapy education which utilize multiple full-time clinical internships is being threatened by shrinking resources in patient care environments. Additionally, recent evidence indicates that providing students only full-time clinical internships apart from classroom learning is not optimal for student development of critical thinking, problem solving, and ethical and moral reasoning skills. Integrated models of clinical education providing regular student-patient interaction concurrently with classroom learning have been found to improve retention and understanding of learned material, resulting in improved academic achievement and clinical decision-making. The impact of these experiences on student performance in the classroom and on full-time clinical experiences, as well as on the teaching skills of clinical faculty, has been addressed less in the literature. The purpose of this project is to design, implement, and study the effect of adding two integrated clinical experiences during the fall and spring semesters in the Indiana University Doctor of Physical Therapy curriculum. These integrated clinical internships would focus on student application of learned material within a clinic environment. A secondary impact of this project would to evaluate the horizontal and vertical integration of courses over the first year of the curriculum to determine the impact on student learning. Finally, findings from this initial project will help determine the need or value of adding a similar course for second year students.