Preparing undergraduate students for clinical work in a complex environment: evaluation of an e-learning module on physiotherapy in the intensive care unit

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Intensive Care Units (ICUs) are daunting environments for physiotherapy (PT) students performing clinical rotations. To prepare students for this environment, a newly developed, evidence-based e-learning module was designed and implemented in the undergraduate curriculum. The aim of this study was to investigate whether e-learning is a feasible method in preparing PT students for clinical work in complex ICU environments, as perceived by students and experts.

METHODS: A mixed methods proof of concept study was undertaken. Participants were final-year students of an international curriculum, and experts from didactic and clinical fields. An e-learning module consisting of 7 separate chapters based on the latest scientific evidence and clinical expertise was developed, piloted and incorporated into the undergraduate curriculum as a compulsory course to be completed prior to clinical ICU rotations. Data were collected through 3 focus group meetings and 5 semi-structured interviews; these meetings and interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim and analyzed.

RESULTS: The study sample comprised of 14 students and 5 experts. Thematic analysis revealed three themes: expected competencies of PT students in ICU, feeling prepared for ICU clinical work and dealing with local variety. The e-learning module enabled students to anticipate clinical situations and PT tasks in the ICU. Higher level clinical reasoning skills, handling of lines and wires and dealing with out-of-textbook situations could not be achieved with the e-learning module alone.

CONCLUSIONS: An e-learning module can sufficiently prepare PT students for their clinical tasks in the ICU, as long as it is integrated with, or closely connected to, the students' clinical placement.

Original languageEnglish
Article number130
JournalBMC MEDICAL EDUCATION
Volume20
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2020

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