Perceived Benefits and Barriers of Participation of Physical Therapy Students In Resource-Poor International Clinical Education

Purpose : Studies assessing the impacts of international clinical education for medical students have shown that international clinical rotations (ICR) have positive impacts on studentÕs personal and professional development. However, little is known about the impacts of ICE on physical therapy (PT) students. This paper documents the potential benefits and perceived barriers of PT students participating in an ICR in a resource-poor cross-cultural setting.Description : Seven 3rd year physical therapy students (3 in year one, 4 in year two) participated in a 5-week ICR in Malawi, a resource-poor country in Africa. A PT faculty member from a US program accompanied the students for the first week in each rotation. A local Canadian-trained PT supervised the studentsÕ ICR. The students provided PT to underserved children with moderate to severe special needs. The common diagnoses were cerebral palsy, post-cerebral malaria, post-meningitis and post-encephalitis. At the end of each clinical rotation, in order to identify perceived barriers and benefits of the ICR, the students completed a brief written survey with open-ended questions and participated in an in-depth, semi-structured interview using open-ended questions. The most commonly perceived barriers were language and communication. All students reported several benefits. The main themes were enhanced hands-on skills; creativity and confidence in working with limited resources; enhanced learning and knowledge; improved clinical decision making skills; and confidence working in a cross-cultural environment with varied levels of severity and disability.Summary of Use : Participation in this ICR has shown to have a positive impact on studentsÕ professional and personal development. The primary benefits were hands-on skills and beyond. StudentsÕ benefits from this model included enhanced hands-on skills, confidence working with limited resources, enhanced knowledge, skills and sense of community culture, and working in cross-cultural or resource-limited settings. This ICR model was unique with pro bono clinical service 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 cross-cultural competency. Based on the survey, 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 skills and knowledge 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 PT with opportunities that enhance their ability to practice in cross-cultural and resource-limited settings.

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  • Control #: 2017791
  • Type: Poster
  • Event/Year: CSM2015
  • Authors: Brandy Schwarz, Yasser Salem, Howe Liu, Clayton Holmes, John K. Podgore
  • Keywords: Clinical Education |International

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