Participation Of Physical Therapy Students In Resource-Limited International Clinical Education

Purpose : Studies assessing the impacts of international clinical education (ICE) for medical students have shown that international clinical rotations (ICR) has positive impacts on studentÕs personal and professional development. However, little is known about the impacts of ICE on physical therapy students. This paper documents the potential benefits and perceived barriers of physical therapy students participating in an ICR in a resource-poor cross-cultural setting.Description : Three third-year physical therapy students participated in a 5-week ICR in Malawi, a resource-poor country in Africa. A physical therapy faculty from an US program accompanied the students for the first week. A local Canadian-trained physical therapist supervised the studentsÕ ICR. The students provided physical therapy to underserved children with moderate to severe special needs. The most common diagnoses were cerebral palsy, post-cerebral malaria, post-meningitis and post-encephalitis. At the end of the clinical rotation, in order to identify perceived barriers and benefits of the ICR, the students completed a written survey and participated in a focus group. The focus group included in-depth, semi-structured interview using open-ended questions. The most commonly perceived barriers were language and communication. All students reported several positive impacts on their professional and personal developments. The main themes were enhanced knowledge, learning and hands-on skills, improved clinical decision making skills, attained experience in working in a resource-limited setting, and gained confidence working in a cross-cultural environment and with different levels of severity and disability.Summary of Use : Participation in this ICR has shown to have a positive impact on our studentsÕ professional and personal developments. The benefits were beyond hands-on skills. StudentsÕ benefits from this model included enhanced knowledge, skills and sense of community, and confidence in working in cross-cultural or resource-limited settings. This ICR model was unique; it included providing service in pro bono clinic and community outreach centers to underserved children in a resource-poor environment. This model can be used to prepare students to work in resource-limited setting and enhance their cross-cultural competency. This model has increased studentsÕ interest in further work in resource-limited cross culture settings.Importance to Members: This paper is relevant to all health professional students. The ICR experience in an underserved and resource-poor setting contributed to the studentsÕ personal and professional development. The knowledge and skills gained during this clinical experience will be of great value. Given the current changes in the US health care system, greater socioeconomic demands and projected cultural diversity of our population, it is imperative that we provide health professional students including those in physical therapy with opportunities that enhance their ability to practice in cross-cultural and resource-limited settings.

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  • Control #: 1722422
  • Type: Platform
  • Event/Year: CSM2014
  • Authors: Yasser Salem, John Podgore , Clayton Holmes, Sarah Do, Shabnam Ghahremani, Candace W. Henson , Hao Liu
  • Keywords: International Clinical Education|International Clinical Rotation|Clinical Education

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