The effects of inclusion of a geriatric-based exercise class within an entry level Doctorate of Physical Therapy program on studentsÕ perceptions of geriatrics.

Purpose/Hypothesis : The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of inclusion of a geriatric-based group balance class within an entry level DPT curriculum on perceptions of physical therapy care for geriatric patients. Our hypothesis is that student perceptions of geriatric physical therapy would improve with the inclusion of the community-based group exercise class.Number of Subjects : 29 second year DPT studentsMaterials/Methods : In order to incorporate additional exposure of the geriatric population into an entry level DPT curriculum, a geriatric-based group balance class was initiated for a cohort of DPT students. Pre and post surveys were conducted to measure studentsÕ change in perception of geriatrics before and after a geriatric group balance class performed for eight consecutive weeks at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, Community Based Outpatient Physical Therapy Services. The survey instrument was originally validated to measure perceptions of geriatric medicine by medical students and was adapted to measure perceptions of geriatric physical therapy within this study.Results : The student perceptions regarding the quality of training in geriatric physical therapy and the enjoyment of their experiences with geriatric patients demonstrated large positive effect sizes pre to post (CohenÕs d 1.68 and 1.96 respectively). Student perceptions regarding job opportunities available near desired place of work, variety of work, likeable patients, intellectual stimulation, prestige within the medical community, and flexible working conditions also demonstrated a small to medium positive effect (CohenÕs d between .18 and .50).Conclusions : The results demonstrate an overall positive effect on a variety of student perceptions associated with a geriatric physical therapy with small to large effect sizes. Given the current and forecasted increase in the 65 and over population and the traditionally low numbers of first-year PT graduates who seek employment with a geriatric population, these findings demonstrate one method that may be utilized within an entry level curriculum to positively impact student perceptions on a career in geriatric physical therapy.Clinical Relevance : There are many factors that may influence whether students choose careers in the care of geriatric patients. Studies have demonstrated that students and recent graduates are less inclined to work with the geriatric population than other specialty areas in physical therapy. Only 10% of programs offer a formal course in geriatrics within their curriculum. Dedicated coursework and educational experiences may be a factor that affects student perceptions on the geriatric population.

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  • Control #: 2026521
  • Type: Platform
  • Event/Year: CSM2015
  • Authors: Jennifer C. Reneker, Margaret Zronek, Christine Long, Erin McBride, Cory Stocker, Christopher Wood
  • Keywords: geriatric education|student perceptions

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