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Abstract

Background and Purpose: In developing a new Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) curriculum, the faculty at a mid-west academic health sciences center decided to introduce course content historically placed near the end of the program’s Master of Physical Therapy curriculum at the beginning of the DPT curriculum. The new DPT curriculum was constructed to promote the value of three central themes; 1) evidence-based practice and 2) patient-centered care, both of which contribute to 3) sound clinical decision making. Faculty theorized that by explicitly expressing these themes in a first semester, introductory course, students would acquire a much needed framework for categorizing and integrating future knowledge, and would begin the professional socialization process earlier in the curriculum. The purpose of this report is to describe the new course and provide quantitative and qualitative data regarding the course outcomes.Methods: Quantitative data were gathered via a survey administered to 75 students, 37 who had completed all three years of the program and 38 who had completed the second year of the program. In addition, qualitative data were gathered from first year student essays summarizing the course and describing its influence on their perceptions of the field. Results: More than 80% of second and third year students agreed or strongly agreed that the course had met all of the primary objectives outlined by the faculty. Essays from first year students also supported many of the purposes envisioned in the development of the course. Conclusion: These outcomes suggest students can value and comprehend more advanced content early in allied health curricula and that the early introduction of such content may aid in organizing subsequent learning and professional socialization.

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