A conceptual framework for international service-learning course planning: Promoting a foundation for ethical practice in the physical therapy and occupational therapy professions
As physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) educational programs endeavor to foster core values of social responsibility, justice, and altruism in an increasingly global community, the incorporation of local and international service-learning (ISL) into the curriculum is growing. Much of the research has focused on the measurement of student learning, with little written about the impact on the host community. Proponents of global health initiatives are calling for consideration of all stakeholders to ensure ethical practice. This paper explores the current literature related to PT and OT ISL and builds a conceptual framework for ISL course planning. The essential phases in the framework include: 1) pre-experience planning/preparation stage, 2) field immersion experience stage, and 3) postexperience stage. The essential elements are: 1) cultural competency training, 2) communication and coordination with community, 3) comprehensive assessment, and 4) strategic planning. The authors suggest this framework as a practical tool to structure ISL courses with an explicit emphasis on ethical concerns. Additionally, they seek to foster more dialogue and action related to the promotion of ethical practices in ISL in PT and OT education programs.