Student Perception of Preparedness for Clinical Management of Adults With Lifelong Disability Using a Standardized Patient Assessment

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Background and Purpose.A need exists to increase entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy student exposure to adults with lifelong disability using novel educational methods. The purpose of this project was to determine whether student perception of preparedness with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required for the management of lifelong disability was enhanced by the use of a standardized patient (SP) assessment experience with actors trained as adults with cerebral palsy (CP).Method/Model Description and Evaluation.An SP case about a young adult with CP was developed, and an assessment was implemented by a team of faculty members in a neuromuscular management track. Entry-level physical therapy students in their fifth of 7 semesters completed a survey about their perception of preparedness in the 3 learning domains at 3 time points, before (time 1) and after (time 2) the SP assessment and after a 10-week clinical education experience (time 3).Outcomes.Fifty-one students completed a series of 3 surveys. There was no change in student perception of preparation with the knowledge required for physical therapist management of an adult with CP at the 3 time points. Student perception of preparation with skills was increased significantly at time 2 and was maintained at time 3. Student perception of preparation with attitudes was also significantly increased at time 2, but returned to original levels at time 3.Discussion and Conclusion.Use of an SP experience was an educational assessment method that resulted in enhanced student perception of preparedness with the skills and attitudes necessary to work with adults with CP. Physical therapy programs may consider this method to address the need for creative educational strategies to address physical therapist management of lifelong disability.

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