Professional Poster

Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Disorder Interprofessional Education

Thursday, August 6, 2020, 10:00 am - 10:00 am EDT

Background: Currently, aspects of ergonomics, including how different health professionals work to prevent musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), are taught to first-year dental students (DS1s), occupational therapy students (OTs) and physical therapy students (PTs) uniprofessionally at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio). Opportunities exist for these students to learn ergonomics together in didactic and clinical settings, which promises to enhance acquisition of knowledge and skills, including physical assessments and modalities intended to prevent and/or minimize MSDs. A pilot project that embraced these opportunities was developed by faculty from each program and implemented between August 2019 and March 2020. The primary aim of the UT Health San Antonio ergonomics IPE activity was to advance IPEC core competencies of Roles/Responsibilities, Interprofessional Communication, and Teams and Teamwork.


Methods: All DS1s received an ergonomics presentation and hands-on instruction delivered by OT faculty and students, which culminated in DS1s demonstrating proper posture and patient/instrument locations with feedback and guidance from OTs. PT faculty also presented a 1-hour lecture to DS1s on posture and exercises to support appropriate posture. This information was reinforced through clinical IPE with instruction provided by PTs and OTs. Upper division OTs also observed DS3s (that received IPE ergonomics activity with OTs during DS1s) at the UT Dentistry Clinic while evaluating workplace and posture ergonomics of students delivering patient care. Student learning was assessed using the Interprofessional Collaborative Competencies Attainment Survey (ICCAS). Aggregate mean change scores were calculated using t-tests with an a priori level of significance of < 0.05. Focus groups were planned but canceled due to COVID-19.



Thirty-eight DS1s, 37 OTs, and 21 PTs completed all three pilot activities. Findings indicate all ICCAS constructs improved significantly: Team Functioning (p < 0.0001), Collaborative Patient/Family Centered-Approach (p < 0.0000), and Communication (p < 0.0000), were among the most significant constructs.



The UT Health San Antonio ergonomics IPE activity improved self-reported interprofessional competencies in early learners in dental, occupational therapy, and physical therapy programs. Importantly, this included advances in IPEC core competencies, which served as the primary aim of this project. Promising results indicate students valued a blended approach involving didactic and clinical IPE.



Several future enhancements may further increase the value and impact of this IPE activity, including additional OTs and PTs observations of dental students in clinic/ simulation lab activities and PTs observation of OTs. Future feedback sessions via web-based platforms will also help accommodate participants’ varying academic schedules.