Finding common ground: factors clinical instructors and students report are important in clinical internships Jesse Wineland, SPT; Jacquelyn Haines, SPT; Taylor Magrath, SPT; Alex Bolin, SPT Faculty Mentor: Ann Marie Decker
Background and Purpose: This study seeks to determine factors students and clinical instructors perceive as important to successful clinical internships. Full-time internships comprise over 25% of a typical graduate physical or occupational therapy program. Doctor of physical therapy (DPT) students average 34 weeks in full-time internships, Masters of Occupational Therapy (MOT) students average 24 weeks of full-time internships prior to graduating. The voluntary model of clinical education places a heavy responsibility on the Clinical Instructors (CI’s) directly supervising students during their internships. Simultaneously, student internships should be designed for optimal student learning. This study compares factors students and clinical instructors find most important in a clinical internship across four domains: clinical environment, clinical instructor, student, and patient.
Subjects: A total of 117 student surveys and 122 CI surveys were collected. Students subjects were recruited from nine physical therapy (PT) programs and six occupational therapy (OT) programs located in Missouri and Kansas All clinical instructors (CI’s) associated with clinical sites with current contracts with one university were invited to participate in the study via email. Methods and materials: An electronic survey was generated for CI’s and student therapists. Survey was piloted prior to launch. Student and CI survey listed identical factors specific to the following four domains; patient, clinical instructor, clinic environment and student.. Subjects ranked each factor within a defined category and identified the most important factor overall.
Conclusion: Survey data found that CI’s and students agree CI’s communication & feedback skills are the most important factor for a successful internship. CI’s and students differ in how each group rated the importance of a range of factors including diversity of patient population as well as the student’s interpersonal skills. Study results are limited given student subjects are primarily from one discipline and a limited number of schools. Further research should include a collecting data from students attending a wider range of programs from multiple medical disciplines to further identify factors which contribute to successful internships.