Enhancing Cultural Awareness through an Academic Exchange: Development and Outcomes of US-Swiss PT Students Program

Purpose : Global student exchanges aim to develop professional, social and cultural competencies. Communication and reflective skills are an integral part of physical therapy (PT) practice to enable students to address individual and society needs. Exposure to cultural diversity, different health care systems and educational programs enhances these competences. Global experiences align with the professional principles defined by the World Confederation for Physical Therapy, namely: to allow for variation in: cultures, values and beliefs; health needs of people and societies; and the structure of health systems. This presentation describes the development of a global exchange program for PT students and examines the impact of this experience on the perception of culture, variability in clinical practice, educational preparation and health care delivery.Description : Faculty at each institution developed a 2 to 3 weeks exchange program, in 2 phases, based on academic objectives. Components of the exchange included: activities promoting psychomotor skills (simulations), courses describing each countryÕs culture and health care system, language skills, rotations at large medical centers and an advanced topic in PT. A survey was disseminated before and after the exchange to 16 Swiss and 18 US PT students. The survey contained 12 items using a 5-point Likert scale response set and 5 open-ended questions exploring cultural, professional and educational components. Responses were analyzed using a quantitative and a qualitative approach. Descriptive statistics characterized the sample and Chi square tests were used to assess associations. PostÐexchange Swiss students were more likely to report culture influences health care (Chi sq = 6.4; p=0.04) and that religion and spiritualty are important (Chi sq = 5.9; p=0.05). 93% of Swiss students reported the exchange helped them learn about US families and clients while 70% of US students reported the exchange promoted this learning.Summary of Use : Students from both countries demonstrated a high level of awareness and reported similarities and differences in cultural, social and professional aspects of physical therapy education and care. Students reported they developed skills to adapt to cultural and social variability, to communicate in another language, and demonstrated consideration for various health care systems, educational models and PT roles.Importance to Members: The exchange program provided a venue for increased cultural, social and professional competencies. Students reported the exchange enhanced their understanding of the respective health care systems, models of PT education and cultures. These data may provide some insight on the most effective educational methods for cultivating these ideals. Collaborative global experiences provide students the opportunity to develop cultural awareness and core professional values in their preparation as future health care professionals and leaders in the global health care community.

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  • Control #: 1726994
  • Type: Poster
  • Event/Year: CSM2014
  • Authors: Maura Iversen, Jean-Philippe Bassin, Diane F. Fitzpatrick
  • Keywords: Cultural Competence|Core Values|Interprofessional curriculum content

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