Combined Sections Meeting American Physical Therapy Association

Document Type

Conference Proceeding




The University of Nebraska Medical Center DPT program has a Global Health Opportunity track in which international students work on a master’s degree and complete a DPT. The current students are from China and meet all requirements of the DPT and graduate admissions, including a high proficiency in English (e.g. TOEFL ³ 90). All students have undergraduate degrees in medicine, rehabilitation therapy or medical sciences from universities in China. While these students have performed well in the didactic DPT curriculum, we noted a trend in professional interactions and communication which interfered with clinical performance and required remediation. To proactively circumvent these issues, we designed a course to develop an understanding of American culture, the US healthcare system, and professional behaviors required of physical therapists. Topics focused on themes of personal development, professionalism, interprofessional relationships, and communication. The course used self-reflection learning methods including mind maps, personal learning plans, and reflection papers to facilitate self-awareness and develop capacity for self-directed learning. Innovative Improv techniques and exercises taught communication skills related to body language and listening. Several experiences occurred in the community and the university setting to encourage practice of learned skills. This included interacting with an older adult fitness client and receiving feedback on this interaction from a DPT-2 student and engaging with stroke support group participants. The final project was an oral presentation with an impromptu question and answer session.