Student Performance After Final Clinical Education Experiences of Different Lengths

Purpose/Hypothesis : Final clinical education experiences (CEs) vary in length across entry level physical therapist programs. Although there has been some discussion to extend CEs to improve performance of new graduates, no research was found comparing student performance in final CEs of different lengths. The purpose of this report is to describe the outcomes of an 11-week versus a 27-week final CE within the same entry level Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program.Number of Subjects : A total of 211 DPT students in four classes, each in the final year of an entry level program: Two classes (n=104) participated in an 11-week final CE and two classes (n=107) participated in a 27-week final CE. All met the same admission criteria and the didactic curriculum was similar across the four years.Materials/Methods : The clinical education curriculum was revised to include a 27-week final CE. One group (Classes 2010, 2011) participated in three full-time CEs: 8 weeks, 12 weeks, 11 weeks for a total of 31 weeks; the other group (Classes 2012, 2013) participated in two full-time CEs: 8 weeks and 27 weeks for a total of 35 weeks. The Physical Therapist Clinical Performance Instrument (CPI) Version 2006 was used to collect quantitative data with the 1-21 point scale (17=entry level) for each of the 18 clinical performance criteria. Clinical instructor (CI) assessment and student self-assessment data at the end of the final CEs were aggregated and described. Box-and-whisker plots and frequency distributions for each CPI criterion were examined for differences between the two groups. National Physical Therapist Examination (NPTE) mean scale scores of each class were compared to the national mean scale scores for the same year.Results : For both groups, the first quartile for each of the clinical performance criteria was 17 (entry level) by CI and self-assessment. CI assessment for students who participated in the 27-week CE showed an increase of at least one point in the third quartile for 12/18 criteria and higher medians for 7/18 criteria. Corresponding student self-assessment scores showed an increase of at least one point in the third quartile for 8/18 criteria and higher medians for 3/18. Students who participated in the 27-week CE had more scores beyond entry level (score ?18) for 17/18 criteria per CI assessment and 18/18 criteria per student self-assessment. The NPTE first-time mean scale score for Class 2010 was five points higher than the national mean scale score and Class 2011 was eight points higher, while the Class 2012 and 2013 were each 18 points higher.Conclusions : These results suggest a trend toward enhanced clinical performance with longer final CEs as measured by the CPI and NPTE. Student self-assessment scores suggest enhanced confidence after a longer final CE. Further analysis is needed to determine the impact of final CE length.Clinical Relevance : Many DPT programs are exploring longer CEs. Careful analysis and description of outcomes will be useful in assessing the efficacy of an extended final CE that may better prepare students to enter the profession.

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  • Control #: 1724999
  • Type: Platform
  • Event/Year: CSM2014
  • Authors: Susan S. Tomlinson, Janet Readinger, James D. Tomlinson, Rebecca L L. Craik
  • Keywords: clinical education|student performance|Clinical Performance Instrument

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