DPT and nursing students broaden education by learning together

For two days, two groups of students from differing health fields – nursing and physical therapy – participated in various simulated patient cases, giving them the chance to broaden their interdisciplinary education and experience working together.

Nursing instructor Stacy Lee Cornell, RN, explains patient handling to physical therapy doctoral students.

On the first day, 96 first-year undergraduate nursing students came to the School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences and participated in a class taught by 35 physical therapy doctoral students (DPT), learning basic skills for handling patients. Students rotated through six stations that included body mechanics and posture, levels of assistance and bed mobility, wheel chair management, transfer training, ambulation with crutches/walkers on level surfaces with different weight bearing statuses, and the last station included walking with crutches/canes on stairs and curbs. 


Photo left: DPT student Cella Brady (left) instructing two nursing students. Photo right: DPT student Cynthia Chamberlain demonstrates how to handle wheelchair-bound patient Amy Holz, also a DPT student.

On the second day, the 35 DPT students went to the George and Marian Miller Center for Virtual Learning and Clinical Simulation. While there, the DPT students were instructed by the nursing faculty in a simulated intensive care unit, an acute care unit, and a sub-acute unit. During the interactive lesson the nursing faculty provided several demonstrations of simulated cases of a patient connected to a various pieces of medical equipment.

“This was a great opportunity to see students interact with each other, across disciplines,” said Larry Mengelkoch, PT, PhD, associate professor in the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences.

“The opportunity for nursing students and DPT students to work and learn from each other is just one way USF Health is partnering together to promote interdisciplinary approach to learning,” said Laura Gonzalez, ARNP, PhD, assistant professor in the College of Nursing and director of the Center for Virtual Simulation.

“Students see firsthand that healthcare is interdisciplinary when they see their faculty collaborating and sharing expertise, it plants the seed for them as future healthcare professionals.”

Drs. Mengelkoch and Gonzalez co-coordinated the interdisciplinary teaching sessions. Additional faculty involved in supervising or instructing the sessions include: Jeannie Stephenson, PT, MS, NCS, Seok Hun Kim, PT, PhD, Matthew Lazinski, DPT, OCS, Stacy Lee Cornell RN, Janet Sprehe, RN, MS, Carly Lynn Paterson, RN, Allyson Radford RN, and Lilly Zambrano.

Story by Jackie de la Parte, USF Health Office of Communications

Top photo by Eric Younghans, USF Health Office of Communications. Additional photos courtesy of the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences and the College of Nursing.