Task force pushes curriculum

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Clinician Task Force provided “a taste” of its entry-level seating and wheeled mobility curriculum for academic programs at an American Physical Therapy Association meeting in mid-February.

A topic at the meeting, also organized by the Academy of Neurological Physical Therapy: a new education center being launched by the ANPT that will eventually house the curriculum online.

“The idea is to make the curriculum available at no cost or low cost to academic programs,” said Laura Cohen, executive director of CTF. “The logistics haven’t been worked out, but say Boston University decides to use the curriculum, they’ll get user access for all their students and faculty for three days or two months—however long—and then it expires. That way, they have access to it—they can pull it down—but you don’t have a lot of materials circulating around that become outdated.”

CTF received a one-year grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation in the fall of 2015 to complete the curriculum. It received a one-year extension in 2016, giving it until the fall of 2017.

Developing the curriculum has entailed countless surveys and focus groups of faculty and students at numerous PT programs across the country. Cohen says the curriculum focuses on 11 content areas—everything from the wheelchair service delivery process to measurement taking to mobility skills education—and takes an interactive approach that involves lectures, lab work and extracurricular

“It’s been a bigger project than we expected,” she said.

But the pay-off will be worth it, Cohen says. The curriculum will go a long way toward making sure the students who come out of PT programs have a baseline of knowledge in seating and wheeled mobility.

“Not all schools have this and some that do just have, spend a day in a wheelchair and talk about your experience,” she said. “That hardly prepares you to be a responsible party for a patient and this type of equipment.”

For complex rehab providers, who live in a regulation and documentation-laden world, the curriculum will help ensure the clinicians they work with will get them what they need, the right way.

“We want to make sure that the capacity of the work force is there for these specialty evaluations,” she said. “This is a systems change—we want to change the pipeline of students coming out of training.”