Purpose: The Core Competencies for Entry-Level Practice in Acute Care Physical Therapy provides an expectation of entry-level practice in acute care for physical therapists including discharge planning (DP). Physical therapists (PT), despite having appropriate clinical reasoning and unique skills for determining the functional abilities of patients, are less often a part of the DP process. The purpose of this study was to determine, by use of qualitative analysis of reflective writing, if an interprofessional discharge planning simulation will increase students’ understanding of the role of physical therapy in DP. Methods: Students from physical therapy (n=57), undergraduate nursing (n=36), graduate nurse practitioners (n=2), and social work (n=37) participated in a simulation enhanced interprofessional education (Sim-IPE) DP meeting utilizing simulated participants. DPT students were required to complete a reflection paper on this activity. Reflection papers were reviewed and analyzed to identify trends and main themes regarding the role of physical therapist in the discharge planning process. In addition, and sub-themes were then identified through secondary analysis. Results: Three main themes and seven sub-themes were established based on the direct responses to the reflective questions. The first main theme was that it is imperative to identify the main discharge issue particularly as it relates to patient safety and fall risk and to resolve this issue through the DP process. The second main theme was understanding the roles and responsibilities of an interprofessional DP team. The third theme was the identification of the gaps in knowledge with a lack of understanding of the DP process and insurance regulations. Conclusions: DPT students’ gained better understanding of the PT’s role on the healthcare team as it relates to DP; however, there was a belief that other professions were unaware of the PT’s role. The use of a Sim-IPE DP meeting may improve knowledge regarding the discharge process and the role of the PT.

Author Bio(s)

  • Leslie M. Smith is an Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Michigan-Flint (UMF). She graduated from the UMF with a Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy in 1995 and earned a transition DPT from Utica College in 2015. Leslie was named to the Interprofessional Leadership Fellowship at the University of Michigan in 2016 and completed in 2017.
  • Benjamin Sachs is a physical therapist in clinical practice he graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint in 2017. Ben received his BS in Health Science from the University of Central Florida. He served as a Graduate Research Student Assistant for Interprofessional Education.
  • Karen Berg is a Clinical Assistant Professor and Co-Associate Director of Clinical Education at the University of Michigan-Flint (UMF). Dr. Berg earned her BS in Physical Therapy from Wayne State University in 1989 and her Transitional DPT from Des Moines University in 2010. She is a Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist and an APTA Advanced Credentialed Clinical Instructor.
  • Megan Keiser is an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Michigan-Flint. She received her BSN in 1986 and a Master of Science in Medical-Surgical Nursing in 1990, both from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She received her Doctorate of Nursing Practice in 2012 from Wayne State University. She was a member of the inaugural cohort for the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning Simulation Fellowship. She has participated in many grant-funded research projects involving interprofessional practice in health care.
  • Laura J. Smith is Associate Professor at the University of Michigan-Flint (UMF). Dr. Smith has extensive teaching experience in entry-level and post-professional physical therapy education. Dr. Smith received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy at University of St. Augustine and PhD from Walden University.
  • Carman Turkelson is an Associate Professor of Nursing and the associate director of the nursing simulation center. Dr. Turkelson earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice with a focus on interprofessional education using simulation from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor in 2013. She received her Master of Science in Nursing Education (MSN-Ed) from Michigan State University in 2008. Dr. Turkelson was named to the Interprofessional Leadership Fellowship at the University of Michigan in 2017.
  • Amy M. Yorke is an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan-Flint (UMF). Dr. Yorke received a Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy in 1993 from UMF and earned her PhD in Interdisciplinary Health Sciences from Western Michigan University in 2013. Dr. Yorke was named as an Interprofessional Leadership Fellow at the University of Michigan in 2017.


The authors would like to acknowledge Margaret Murray-Wright, MSN, RN; Kasie White, LMSW; Alan Hackett, LMSW; and Laura Macias, LMSW, CSW-G for their contributions in the planning stages and facilitation during the event; the University of Michigan-Flint School of Health Professions and Studies and Thompson Center Learning and Teaching for financial support; and physical therapy colleagues pre-conference simulation course at the APTA Combined Section Meeting 2016 for planning contributions.


Submission Location


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