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Entry-Level Evidenced Based Practice In and Out of Academia: Student Perceptions Following Full Time Clinical Experiences



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Background: Skill at using evidence to inform clinical decision-making is an important tool in a physical therapist's arsenal of treatment options. Teaching students the value and application of evidence to clinical practice is an integral part of the PT educational process. However, there is little research concerning evidenced based practice (EBP) learning outcomes for students from a clinical context. This study can help to inform academicians on the relevance, clinical impact and potential for change of EBP curriculum. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine how academic research courses impact students' knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about evidence-based practice from the student's perspective following final clinical experiences. Methods: PT students entering a DPT program were invited to participate in the study. Fifty-one students agreed to participate. Quantitative data previously reported measured students' knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about the didactic portion of the curriculum prior to students´ final clinical experiences. This study used a focus group to explore perceptions toward EBP following students´ final clinical experiences. To avoid potential bias the focus group was facilitated by faculty from an academic program not part of the research study. Nine randomly chosen students agreed to participate. An interview guide and background information on the EBP curriculum, research goals and objectives were provided to the facilitators prior to the focus group to serve as a framework for group discussion. Results: The focus group was conducted in a private room with only the students and two facilitators present. The session was recorded following verbal consent from participants. The session lasted one hour when it was determined data saturation had been reached and no new information was presented by participants. The facilitators provided the primary researchers with a written summary and recording from the focus group. No names of participants were identified on the recording or written summary. A primary researcher with expertise in qualitative research utilized the written summary, as well as the recording, to develop common themes using a constant comparison methodology. Student narratives and an outside audit were employed to provide verification of the themes generated. These themes included: (1) Use of EBP in the clinic is contextual and often influenced by clinical instructor attitude towards EBP (2) Students felt confident in conducting research searches and communicating treatment plan options based on best evidence to the patient (3) Research classes provided in the academic setting were perceived as valuable and applicable to clinical experience, including prioritizing treatment options through evidence based clinical decision making to achieve best clinical outcomes. Conclusion(s): Students perceived the use of evidence as valuable in making clinical decisions. Although students noted the use of evidence was not utilized consistently among clinical instructors, they felt confident in incorporating evidence based findings into their clinical experiences. Implications: The findings of this study support the incorporation of EBP into academic curriculum to improve student confidence, communication and clinical decision making in the clinical setting. These findings lend support to presenting these concepts in an applied clinical context within the academic curriculum to enhance relevance to clinical experiences. Key-Words: Evidence Based Practice; Clinical Context; Knowledge, Skills, Attitudes Funding acknowledgements: Nova Southeastern University Health Profession Division: $6700 Ethics approval: Nova Southeastern University Institutional Review Board approved this study


Medicine and Health Sciences

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