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Alumni News Kevin Storr May 13, 2020

They say necessity is the mother of invention. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this came to life in order to provide UAB DPT second-year students an opportunity to participate in providing physical therapy via telehealth.

Patty Perez, PT, DScPT, OCS (MSPT, '93; DScPT, '11), and Tara Pearce, PT, DHS, both assistant professors in our Department of Physical Therapy, developed the University of Alabama at Birmingham's first telehealth simulated patient encounter. The two worked via email, phone and teleconference with the UAB Clinical Simulation/Office of Interprofessional Simulation for Innovative Clinical Practice.

Traditionally, the students would complete an in-person simulated patient encounter. We use this face-to-face instruction to help evaluate their readiness to begin full-time clinical education experience. However, with the transition to online learning and because of our concern for the health, safety and welfare of our PT students, this event could not be conducted on campus. Although we prefer being hands on with our students, we all recognize these dramatic new conditions as another way to teach our students to adapt to disruptions. It has brought out the best in our students and faculty.

Perez, who is also a physical therapist at UAB Hospital, and Pearce, who is UAB DPT Director of Clinical Education, said the students appreciated the ability to learn and engage in telehealth, gain feedback from the simulated patients, and complete a patient encounter independently to prepare for clinical education.

One second-year DPT student added: “I also wanted to say thank you to our faculty and staff for setting up this encounter for us despite the circumstance. I am really proud to be part of an amazing program that goes above and beyond for their students and patients!”

PT Telehealth Simulated Patient

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