Technological Competencies of Students in Doctor of Physical Therapy Programs: A Survey

Purpose/Hypothesis : Advances in mobile and web-based technologies have changed the way that health information is accessed and shared. However, technology competency and utilization among physical therapy students remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to assess specific trends in technology utilization and competency in doctor of physical therapy students across different programs in the United States.Number of Subjects : Two hundred ninety-nine students in three doctor of physical therapy programs.Materials/Methods : A paper-based survey developed by the authors was administered in three physical therapy programs to students who were on campus during the Spring 2013 semester. The survey examined basic demographics; professional, academic, and personal use of popular social media sites; and utilization of smart phone and tablet computers. Data about health tracking apps and impressions of the impact of mobile technology in future practice was also assessed. Descriptive data analysis was performed.Results : Two hundred ninety-nine students (176 females, 123 males) in three doctor of physical therapy programs completed the survey, representing students in all three years of the professional physical therapy curriculum. 84% of respondents reported using Facebook for personal use, 49% for academic use, and 12% for professional use on a daily basis. Similar trends were observed for Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Wikis. 18% of students reported they felt comfortable using social media for professional purposes. 34% of students owned tablet computers, while 83% owned smartphones. Primary uses of these technologies were to send/receive text messages and email, and to access social media sites. 228 respondents reported downloading a health app and 84% reported it to be likely that smartphones and tablets would be part of their future practice pattern. Only 16% of respondents indicated that their program included a course related to technology competencies or skills.Conclusions : Students in doctor of physical therapy programs primarily use mobile devices and social media sites for personal purposes. Few students felt comfortable using web and mobile technologies for professional purposes despite the fact that there was overwhelming anticipation of the likelihood of these technologies impacting their future practice.Clinical Relevance : Physical therapy educators should consider including mobile technology and social media use in the physical therapy curriculum to prepare students for professional application of technology tools.

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  • Control #: 1727339
  • Type: Platform
  • Event/Year: CSM2014
  • Authors: Eric K. Robertson, Kendra Gagnon, Carla Sabus, Tim Noteboom, Mary Derrick
  • Keywords: instructional technology|mobile technology|Physical Therapy Education

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