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Simulation-Based Education in Physical Therapist Education: A Survey of Current Practice.

Physical Therapy 2022 October 7
OBJECTIVES: The purposes of this study were to describe the current use of: (1) simulation in student physical therapist professional education programs; (2) standards of best practice (SOBP) for simulation-based education (SBE) in physical therapist education.

METHODS: Two surveys were created about current use of SBE in student physical therapist professional education programs in the United States. The first survey contained questions about the program, including the best contact person regarding simulation. The second survey investigated simulation use within the context of SOBP. Survey data were analyzed using descriptive statistics.

RESULTS: Survey 1 was sent to the program director at all fully accredited physical therapist programs (N = 236), and 143 responses were returned (61% response rate). Survey 2 was sent to the 136 individuals identified in Survey 1 and we received 81 completed surveys (60%). Over 90% of programs reported including SBE in their curricula with 86% providing 3 or more experiences. A median of 1 core faculty at each program reported training in SBE, but 23% reported no training. A lack of training in specific elements of the SOBP for SBE was reported by 40% to 50% of faculty. Limited use of SOBP was reported and use of outcome measures without validation was common.

CONCLUSION: Although SBE is used commonly in physical therapist education, many faculties: (1) do not have training in SBE; (2) do not consistently follow the SOBP; and (3) utilize outcome measures that are not validated. Limited faculty training in SBE and inconsistent inclusion of the SOBP suggests student learning in simulation is not optimized.

IMPACT: These results show that, despite increased use of simulation in physical therapist education programs, there is a dearth of faculty trained in SBE and inconsistent use of SOBP. Addressing these deficiencies could help to optimize the benefits of SBE in physical therapist education.

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