Developing Cultural Competency and Physical Therapy Core Values Through an International Pediatric Outreach Program

Abstract

Purpose: Professional duty, altruism, and social responsibility are Physical Therapy (PT) Core Values that students strive to develop during their Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) education. The purpose of this project is to advance cultural competency and awareness of core values while providing sustainable services to an underserved population. Description: 15 DPT students traveled to Ecuador to provide PT interventions to children living at For His Children (FHC) orphanage and promote cultural competence as guided by the Purnell and Campinha-BacoteÍs Model. As part of a year-long capstone course guided by a faculty mentor, students researched pediatric neurological and orthopedic diagnoses, Ecuadorian culture, and evidence based PT interventions with the goals of improving functional mobility, motor development, and quality of life in children. Students provided education to the staff PT, caregivers, and key stakeholders at FHC to promote sustainable care. The impact of the model was assessed using the Inventory for Assessing the Process for Cultural Competence Among Health Care Professions (IAPCC-SV) pre and post travel through a focus group and reflective papers. Data was analyzed using paired t-tests and qualitative methods. Summary: This model enabled 15 DPT students to integrate cultural competence into their professional development, participate in an international service learning experience, and promote sustainable health care in an international setting. Importance: Cultural competence and awareness of local, national, and global health issues and their impact on the healthcare system are critical to professional development of PT students and paramount to positive outcomes for patients.