Professional Poster

Evaluation of an Experiential Interprofessional Program Pilot for Physical Therapy and Dental Students

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



The University of Colorado-Anschutz’s Interprofessional Education (IPE) Program emphasizes teamwork and collaboration and its critical role in safe and effective patient care. Building on these concepts, School of Dental Medicine (SDM) faculty recognized a curriculum gap regarding safe patient management for individuals who experience significant difficulty with mobility, specifically transfers. Therefore, SDM faculty collaborated with Physical Therapy (PT) Program faculty to design an experiential hands-on learning activity to reinforce safe patient management. This collaboration resulted in this experiential IPE activity in the dental student clinic.




The purpose was to enable students to apply IPE concepts learned in the classroom setting by implementing a hands-on activity in the clinical setting as a means to improve delivery of patient care.




This pilot program, which ran in January 2018 and December 2018 with distinct cohorts, consisted of a one-hour lecture by PT faculty, followed by one-hour small group sessions with first- and second-year PT students guiding third-year dental students on wheelchair to dental chair patient transfers. Students were educated on how to approach several clinical situations, including techniques and assistive devices to aid patients with mobility issues such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and traumatic brain injury. At the conclusion of the workshop, all participants (N= 135) were surveyed.




Firstly, 99% reported increased confidence in assisting a patient from a wheelchair to a dental chair. Secondary, respondents expressed increased confidence in seeking collaboration from other professions to solve a safe patient management concern. Finally, they reported that the collaboration between the PT program and SDM contributed to their ability to provide patient-centered care. Qualitative analysis of the comments revealed the theme that both physical therapy and dental students desired more practice time dedicated to this workshop.


Conclusion & Implications

Approximately 25% of the dental class was unable to attend the workshop due to clinical rotations. The success of this pilot demonstrates an opportunity to fill a gap in the dental curriculum. Plans are underway to incorporate this content and structure into an existing SDM course on special-care patients by Fall 2020, to resolve scheduling conflicts so that all dental students will participate.