Medical Student Exposure to Physical Therapy in a Hybrid Virtual Model.
The Duke Interprofessional Education (IPE) Experience provides professional students the opportunity to participate in interprofessional clinical activities. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a novel pilot was developed to allow medical students to attend physical therapy sessions utilizing a hybrid virtual model. Students observed physical therapy sessions and discussed the session with the physical therapist and a faculty physician.
In spring 2021, a novel pilot allowed medical students to voluntarily participate in physical therapy sessions. Due to social distancing, one student could be in person with the patient and the physical therapist and the other students, as well as a faculty physician, would attend virtually. The same physical therapist and faculty physician participated in all 2 hour sessions. Two patients were scheduled per session. At the conclusion of patient care, students discussed the cases with the physical therapist and faculty physician.
Composition of the medical students included: 6 fourth years, 1 third year and 3 first years. All students completed a 4-question survey on their experience.
1) This is the first time during my training I have been able to observe a physical therapy session and ask questions of a physical therapist. A total of 80% of students answered yes with 20% no.
2) I felt that this experience added to my education and helped me understand what happens when patients are referred to PT. Students answered on a 5-point Likert scale with 90% responding strongly agree and 10% somewhat agree.
3) I would participate in a similar inter-professional experience in the future. Overwhelmingly 90% answered yes.
The last question was open-ended question and asked about goals for future sessions.
Although this pilot was small, it demonstrates that medical students value observation of a physical therapy session and that it helped them understand the referral process. Initial review shows that the students’ positive feedback the educational benefit was the same for whether in-person (3) or virtual (7).
It is widely accepted that medical students benefit from exposure to other health professions. In designing interprofessional experiences, the ideal goal is to have students provide collaborative and team-based clinical care. However, due to well described obstacles, such as location of learners and siloed education, it is often not possible to develop practical experiences. This small pilot shows that medical students also value observational experiences. Being able to virtually add experiences to student’s education allows flexibility and the ability to reach more learners.