Picture this… Kansas City, October 2014, the Clinical Education Summit. There was a united cry for CHANGE by Physical Therapy (PT) academicians, clinicians and administrators. The chant stated we need to re-envision clinical education through standardization of processes, establish entry level competency, assess students’ readiness for clinic, etc. Fast forward to Nashville, June 2016, the NEXT Conference. There was yet another cry for CHANGE. This time the chant shouted we need to change our DPT curriculum to better prepare our students to treat the fastest growing demographic in the US population, our aging adults. Including having geriatrics as a separate course. The question asked was how can we introduce students to the field of PT and not have the fundamentals to be able to effectively treat aging patients? At the same conference, the Oxford Debate immersed the audience into a lively debate about CHANGE as it relates to the use of technology and its place in the clinic. With the question asked, “Will it eventually take the place of our hands?”
CHANGE is all around us. We’ve heard the calls for change begin to be answered from the clinical education summit. With consortia and taskforces being formed, we are starting to get traction. But what about the other emerging issues in physical therapy? What about the PTA entry level degree perhaps going to a four year degree? And what about the APTA campaign for PT to be a first stop in pain management before opioids are prescribed?
The winds of CHANGE are more like gale force winds versus a nice summer breeze. But here’s the question that is the one that is yet to be answered… Who’s supposed to do all this work to make this change happen? The stakeholders in physical therapy and physical therapy education can no longer step back and point a finger at someone else to do the job. It’s time for us all to step up to the plate, shoulder to shoulder, work as a team to knock the ball out of the park.
The great news is we’ve begun our work. Clinicians, academicians, clinical managers, administrators, and students are coming together. What we need is for you (yes, you, the person reading this blog) to think about what time or talent you can bring forward to become a change agent. If you have no experience, no understanding, not sure what is happening, no problem. If you have an interest or if you simply have time and are willing to help, you have several options available to you. You can consider the APTA’s task forces that are forming or have been formed at http://www.apta.org/VolunteerGroups/. You can connect with your local PT program if you are a clinician and if you are an academician, reach out to your local consortium. If there’s nothing that interests you now, letting others know that you are interested in stepping up will help facilitate a contact with you in the future so that when something new comes along, you can be reached.
That said, the winds of change are here. There’s so much opportunity to be an active contributor knowing that it takes a village to help raise a profession to the next level.
So what does the training of physical therapy students look like for the future as it relates to clinical education? Geriatrics? And what about the role of technology in the clinic?
Picture this, the field of PT in 2025… You can contribute to how the story continues.
So here I am asking the questions again. Who is going to step forward to lead the change? Whose job is it anyway? One word… OURS.