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Objective: Clinical education and collaboration are critical components of developing student physical therapists (SPTs) into safe and competent clinicians. While students may find themselves in various settings upon entering the workforce, working alongside a physical therapist assistant (PTA) is highly likely. With the rise in demand for therapy services, realistic and comprehensive training in SPT-SPTA (student PTA) collaboration is needed to support quality health care.
Model: A student-run pro bono clinic hosted within a Midwestern DPT Program uses a peer-to-peer model that provides the space for collaborative learning between SPTs and SPTAs. Serving as a clinical rotation site for 4 weeks, the pro bono clinic schedules an SPTA alongside a pair of SPTs.
Discussion: SPTs gain early experience in decision-making related to delegating tasks to SPTAs with various skill levels, engaging in intraprofessional communication and reporting improvements in confidence levels. Qualitative reporting from the SPTAs and their host institution’s faculty indicate that the team approach to learning has become a preference among their students. Furthermore, students feel more comfortable learning and working with fellow young professionals, showing more significant interactions with clients and more opportunities for clinical growth.
Clinical relevance: This model combines two previously described beneficial approaches to learning: a program attached pro bono clinic and a PT/PTA team learning environment. Integrating these concepts may catalyze intraprofessional education of SPTs and SPTAs.
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