Article

Clinician's Commentary.

Assistant Professor, Physical Therapy Program, University of Texas at El Paso, 1101 N. Campbell Street, El Paso, Texas 79902-0581 USA, .
Physiotherapy Canada (Impact Factor: 0.61). 01/2010; 62(3):274-5. DOI: 10.3138/physio.62.3.274
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: Background and Purpose. Reflecting increasing globalization, some physical therapist educators are incorporating international service and learning opportunities in curricula. This study had 3 purposes: (1) to determine the frequency/location of international service-learning (ISL) and other international volunteer service (OIVS) in United States and Canadian physical therapist education programs; (2) to explore the program differences between those with and without ISL or OIVS; and (3) to examine faculty’s perceptions of barriers to and benefits of ISL. Subjects. The program directors from 213 physical therapist education programs in the United States and Canada were surveyed. Methods. A questionnaire was developed, frequencies were calculated, and chi-square analysis was utilized to compare programs with and without ISL and/ or OIVS. Results. Ninety-five questionnaires were returned, for a response rate of 44.6%. In the past 10 years, 29.5% of the programs had ISL, 23.2% had OIVS, and 43.2% had ISL and/or OIVS. Of those that did not utilize ISL in the past 10 years, 14.9% planned to add ISL in the next 2 years. No significant differences were found between the programs with ISL and/or OIVS compared to those without either ISL or OIVS in terms of private versus public, Carnegie classification, and professional degree. Lack of funding and faculty time were the greatest perceived barriers. The greatest perceived benefits of ISL were positive effect on student personal development and cultural competence. Discussion and Conclusion. Despite significant barriers, ISL exists in United States and Canadian physical therapist education programs, and modest growth is expected. Perceived benefits are consistent with core professional values of altruism, professional duty, and social responsibility. With the transition towards a doctoring profession, programs may consider promoting physical therapy’s role in the global health arena through incorporating ISL into their curricula.

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