An Examination of New Physical Therapist Graduates' Self-Efficacy Regarding Entry-Level Integumentary Knowlege and Skill
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The purpose of this study was to determine the self-efficacy of new physical therapist graduates regarding entry-level integumentary knowledge and skill. Based on a realist theoretical framework, eight interviews were conducted utilizing critical incident technique that allowed participants to relate their real world experiences to integumentary content either included or excluded from their academic preparations. Questions guiding the study included “How do recent graduates know what they know?” and “How do specific components of academic work translate into perceived comfort in treating integumentary patients?” Interviews were conducted using a semi-structured interview guide and recorded data were transcribed and coded. Results demonstrated participant self-efficacy for integumentary care was closely related to overall curricular exposure to integumentary content and off-site experiential learning opportunities. Participants agreed that the majority of integumentary knowledge and skill acquisition occurred through off-site learning venues prior to graduation and through informal learning on the job after graduation. Self-reported integumentary curricula revealed participants did not receive the minimum entry-level knowledge and skill content deemed “necessary” by the profession and examples that directly associated reported gaps in academic training with uncomfortable patient interactions were described. Physical therapist practice is grounded in patient management principles that encompass all body systems and focus on prevention, education, and functional patient outcomes. As one of those primary systems, management of the integument, or skin, crosses all physical therapist practice settings emphasizing the importance that basic integumentary content be adequately addressed during entry-level education. Preparation of new therapists is the responsibility of academic faculty and this study reveals the programs in Texas may not be adequately delivering the minimum level of integumentary content deemed “necessary” by the profession for entry-level practice.