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Innovation, creativity and dedication drive PT educators during COVID-19

Aug 3, 2020

This year has been…interesting.  We know how hard you’re working and we hope that the town halls ACAPT board members have hosted specifically for the designated ACAPT member reps have helped with your work.

We also know not everyone can attend every town hall, so we asked ACAPT board members to answer some questions about their town hall discussions.  We plan to share more recaps as more town halls take place:

What’s the most surprising thing about PT education that you’ve learned during this pandemic?  

The answers are unanimous across the board of directors: They’re heartened by all of YOUR efforts to deliver the best education for your students.  THANK YOU for all your hard work.  

Here are specific comments from your ACAPT board:

“I have been constantly surprised by the amazing resilience and creativity of our faculty, students and clinical instructors,“ says Barb Sanders, University of Texas.

“It is not really a surprise, but I am amazed at the level of dedication shown by PT educators to ensure the success of our students. Most faculty and staff are working overtime to make-up missed laboratory work from the spring. Some faculty are also experiencing pay cuts at the same time due to institutional cutbacks. Rather than complaining, they are rolling up their sleeves and providing the best education possible. They are modeling altruism, dedication, grit, and perseverance,” says Scott Davis, Marshall University. 

“I was not surprised by this, but I have been so impressed at the creativity and determination of our academic leaders to do everything they can to meet the educational needs of students,” says Nancy Reese, University of Central Arkansas.

"I have been pleasantly surprised at the collaboration among PT educators. The eagerness to share resources and ideas has given me hope that we will get through this even stronger than before," says Mary Dockter, University of Mary.

What is one innovative approach to teaching that you’ve heard about from other ACAPT members?

Your response to switching to digital platforms, hybrid or blended models and flexibly using innovative approaches to teaching have been phenomenal!

“Traditional (on-campus) programs are learning how to harness newer teaching strategies that have been employed by blended programs over the last decade…We are re-imagining physical therapy education and how to bridge the gap between face-to-face and virtual instruction. While many programs will remain a traditional on-campus program, we will all be blended to some degree in the future,” says Scott Davis. 

“The use of video demonstrations from faculty and then back from students – the technology to support distance education is amazing,” says Barb Sanders. 

“The University of Southern California recently conducted a two-week intensive lab session virtually with great success,” says Nancy Reese.  View the recorded ACAPT-sponsored hybrid model webinar here.

Read about UMW-Milwaukee’s Bag-O-Bones innovation here.

What do you think will permanently change for PT clinical education as a result of COVID-19?

We’re not going back to the same old ways we always did things in PT education.  Digital technology and re-thinking our curricula has changed us forever!  ACAPT is committed to helping lead these changes and guide programs to strive for PT education excellence.

“The crisis has taught us to be creative and to break long-standing habits that were more about tradition than evidence. We are asking new questions. I envision that 34 weeks of clinical education will not be the norm going forward. I think we are entering a new era, where 25-28 weeks may be the new standard,” says Scott Davis. “I also think that programs will rethink how they allocated resources and physical space within their on-campus facilities. We are permanently changed for the better.” 

“The use of the flipped classroom and asynchronous learning will be incorporated into our programs; we will not return to the traditional learning models that we have always relied upon,” says Barb Sanders. “And I think that faculty are more ready to identify what the students NEED to know versus what is NICE to know.”

“I think programs will be more agile and flexible when it comes to delivering curriculum and will be more open to hiring geographically-distanced faculty,” says Nancy Reese.

"I believe we have learned how to efficiently and effectively use technology, not only in teaching, but with meetings and professional development," states Mary Dockter. "Perhaps we have found that we can be more flexible with certain conferences and committee meetings - and now can meet virtually. I also hope we can continue to be collaborative and share faculty resources in the future with online modules, guest faculty, etc."

See more about ACAPT's response to COVID-19 here.

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