Comprehensive Critical Care Orientation for Physical Therapists in an Academic Medical Center

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Background and Purpose:

Evidence supporting early mobility in the intensive care unit (ICU) by physical therapists (PT) has led to an increased need to adequately prepare PTs to manage patients in this environment. Due to variability in education about the critical care setting, new graduates require more orientation to the ICU, especially in a level 1 trauma center. A comprehensive orientation to patient management in the critical care environment was developed to promote safe, effective care.


New PT employees to our hospital system participate in a program providing mentoring and requiring an assessment of competency before practicing alone in the ICU. The simulation laboratory was used to reproduce the critical care setting for new employees to demonstrate patient management. Use of a standardized patient allowed PTs to demonstrate mobilization of a patient in the ICU.


We developed a competency program for PTs newly hired to a level 1 trauma center to address safety and competence in the critical care environment. Such a program would be helpful for departments looking for a more comprehensive method to ensure PTs practice safely and effectively in a dynamic critical care setting.

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