While the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted clinical rotations for Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students in the Division of Physical Therapy, it gave them an opportunity to learn about telehealth patient care via phone or video chat thanks to a training module launched by instructors. The telehealth module, designed for second-year students, included a mock patient encounter.

Bondurant Hall
Bondurant Hall

Krista Rosenquest ’17, a DPT student, said the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has shared many resources in recent weeks with physical therapists who aim to provide telehealth care to patients. Recently, Medicare began to cover some telehealth patient visits.

During the four-part assignment, Rosenquest said faculty worked to adapt to an online learning environment for students, particularly for second-years who were in the midst of clinical rotations.

“You can just tell that they’re doing everything they can to make it happen,” Rosenquest said.

During her mock patient encounter, Rosenquest said she had to prepare beforehand as to how she could best modify the patient experience online, including how to connect with her patient.

“Making conversation with your patients comes naturally for me,” Rosenquest said, “But online, it doesn’t flow as easily.”

Rosenquest said the online format made her rely more on verbal cues, rather than relying as much on a patient’s body language. She said that meeting an individual patient’s learning style—or how they best understand therapeutic exercises—is something she can bring to the patient experience whether online or in person.

“I’m glad we’re covering telehealth, because it’s becoming more popular,” Rosenquest said. “With this pandemic, it might change health care in the future.”

She said the experience prepared her for the possibility of using telehealth care as a future physical therapist.

“It also made me really value the in-person experience and what that can do,” Rosenquest said.

The Division of Physical Therapy is housed in the Department of Allied Health Sciences. In spring 2020, U.S. News & World Report ranked the DPT program as #9 in the country.