The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) is founded on the belief that optimal physical therapy is provided in a client-focused environment in which the therapist assumes various roles, including educator, consultant, and advocate. Furthermore, that physical therapists function interdependently in a variety of settings and use theory and established scientific evidence as the foundation upon which they address the needs of the “whole person” (physical, psychological, cognitive, spiritual, and socio-economic).
During our three-year program, our Professional Engagement series (six-courses) is specifically designed to help students understand this context. In Professional Engagement I, students explore the concept of Professionalism and address the role of government, the APTA, and other professional organizations in health care. In Professional Engagement II, students investigate issues related to health disparities that exist as a consequence of race/ethnicity, age, or socioeconomic status and , and learn to address methods for implementing culturally competent care, improving health literacy, and addressing issues related to access to health systems. This second course in professional engagement builds on the content addressed in IPE 100, in which physical therapy students interact with students from other programs to address issues related to interprofessional management of patients. Two additional courses in this series, address the cultural and psychosocial issues that impact patient/client management and approaches to teaching as a ‘skilled’ intervention, which is utilized heavily in physical therapy.
In the third year, Professional Engagement III, advances student’s knowledge of policy, legal and ethical aspects of physical therapy practice management. Social responsibility and advocacy for legislative change to state and federal regulations related to the provision of health care services. In this final course in the series, students formulate a ‘professional development plan’ for continued professional engagement in physical therapy, which includes mechanisms for seeking out collaborative partnerships, community resources, and other health care organizations.
IPE is also stressed in the clinical component of the curriculum. Students are required to interact with other health care providers during clinical experiences and write reflection papers summarizing what they learn from these encounters.
To prepare physical therapy graduates to recognize the need for patient-centered practice and interprofessional collaboration to improve the effectiveness of healthcare and quality of life for those in need of health services.