Analysis of the Development of MS-Related Competencies Among Physical Therapy Students
Objectives: To evaluate the development of competencies across 4 domains of the MSCRS: general knowledge, advanced knowledge, assessment and outcomes, and implementation of treatment plans and services.
Methods: MS STEP UP is a 2-year educational scholarship track conducted concurrently with the 2nd and 3rd year of the DPT curriculum. Two scholars are selected each year through a competitive application process. The curriculum includes didactic instruction, clinical experiences, and service activities. Scholars also tailor class assignments and capstone projects to focus on MS-related topics and participate in volunteer clinical experiences to observe MS-specialized physical therapists, neurologists and other healthcare providers. Scholars also participate in community-based activities including National MS Society events, board meetings, fundraisers, and self-help groups. The first 10 scholars completed the MSCRS before starting the program, and at the end of the first and second years. We analyzed the percentage of items in each of the 4 selected domains on which the scholars rated their knowledge as “above average” or “excellent” (as compared to entry-level DPTs) using a Domain x Time repeated measures ANOVA.
Results: There was a significant Domain x Time interaction. The percentage of items rated “above average” or “excellent” was higher at the end of the first year for general knowledge (78%) than for advanced knowledge (54%), assessment and outcomes (55%), and implementation of treatment plans and services (56%; p<0.01). At the end of Year 2, scholars rated their knowledge as above average or excellent relative to entry-level DPTs on 96-100% of the items, with no differences between domains.
Conclusions: MS STEP UP improves the clinical skills and knowledge of DPT students, as demonstrated by self-rated competencies. These new results demonstrate that basic knowledge is primarily acquired in the first year of the program, whereas advanced knowledge and practice-related competencies (assessment and treatment) develop over the two years.