Using Evidence Based Practice During Clinicals: The Student Perspective
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes
Recently, my cohorts and I left campus to begin our clinicals; for some, it was their first and for others, their second.
Prior to going our separate ways, we chatted about the different settings that we would be in and what we hoped to get out of our experiences.
It was evident that we all shared the goals of immersing ourselves in our experiences, learning as much as we could during our time there, coming away with the latest techniques and modalities to help our future patients, and possibly even finding a mentor.
Another shared goal was being able to use some of the latest evidence-based practice (EBP) techniques that help our patients to ensure that they are receiving the greatest care.
It was during this discussion that we stopped and asked ourselves that if we can review our lecture notes and collaborate with our CIs, how do we efficiently review information while balancing a busy day in the clinic? Is it possible to apply EBP when there are productivity standards?
I'll jump ahead to when my classmates and I decided to explore APTA's PTNow evidence-based website.
It seemed as though this tool, available free to APTA members, was a great solution to help us achieve our goals, and challenge the idea of productivity standards and making time for EBP being mutually exclusive.
So what is PTNow and how can students use it?
PTNow uses evidence-based practice to provide clinical resources for students and clinicians. It's a database of clinical summaries, tests and measures, clinical practice guidelines, and systematic reviews, and it's enhanced with access to journals via ArticleSearch and point-of-care resources via the Rehabilitation Reference Center. It allows us to save searches and create "clinical collections" for our personal profile to use as a reference throughout our clinicals. The clinical collections allow us to save what we find for each specific patient case in order to reference it at a later time. An example of this is shown below:
I asked my cohorts about their experiences with PTNow during their clinicals. Here's what they said:
"I used PTNow to look for new exercises and review different conditions. This helped me to better understand the causes and to choose the appropriate interventions. I was asked by my CI to find exercises that were different from the ones used regularly at the clinic, specifically for the shoulder and knee. I found that the images in the Rehab Reference Center were very helpful for visualizing the exercise."
–Elizabeth Tapia, SPT
The Rehabilitation Reference Center also includes:
- General practice resources, such as handbooks and practice guideline references, and patient education handouts, such as summaries of diagnoses.
"I used the Tests and Measures section to review the most valid and reliable outcome measures for each patient. The Fall Risk in Community-Dwelling Elders Clinical Summary was especially beneficial in helping me to select appropriate objective measures for my patients, such as the Five Times Sit to Stand test, and to better track progress over the course of therapy."
–Amanda Kuptsow, SPT
The Tests and Measures section includes:
- Administration, statistical interpretation, and videos of specific tests.
"I used PTNow to learn about diagnoses that I was treating and what interventions proved to be most beneficial. I found the Clinical Summaries section to be helpful because I treated some diagnoses that I did not learn about yet in my curriculum. I was able to use PTNow to look up information that I would not have gotten elsewhere."
–Nick Mullery, SPT
The Clinical Summaries section includes:
- Evidence on managing patient diagnoses, overview of condition and exam, diagnosis/prognosis, medical management, and case study examples.
It is important to remember that evidence-based practice incorporates clinical expertise and patient values. During one of my clinicals in an outpatient setting, I created a plan of care based on information reviewed in the Clinical Practice Guidelines section, in addition to input from my CI. Using PTNow provided me with quick resources that I was able to reference, and it reinforced what my CI taught me, which ultimately led to a more successful collaboration and learning experience.
Having resources to reference and proper guidance from my CI allowed me to take into account each patient's values, and apply them to their plan of care.
By the end of our clinical experiences, my cohorts and I were able to reach our goals. We learned that it is possible to successfully apply evidence-based practice while collaborating with our CIs, and even each other.
Using PTNow as the foundation for evidence allowed us to be more time efficient in the clinic by choosing interventions and outcome measures most valid and reliable for each individual patient.
It was evident that applying this information helped our patients gain trust in what were doing, as they saw better results and reached their own goals.
Alana Papa, SPT, APTA Student Assembly PTNow Student Liaison. Learn more about PTNow by contacting Alana by email.