A grant from the Health Policy and Administration (HPA) Section of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) will enable researchers at The University of Texas at El Paso’s College of Health Sciences to validate a language assessment that measures Spanish proficiency of students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program.
Celia Pechak, Ph.D., associate DPT Program director and associate professor, will lead the project with co-principal investigators Emre Umucu, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Rehabilitation Counseling Program, and Loretta Dillon, DPT, clinical professor in the DPT Program.
Researchers will investigate the intra- and inter-rater reliability of the Physical Therapy Spanish Proficiency Measure (PT-SPM). Developed by the researchers, the tool was created for physical therapists to assess a DPT student’s Spanish language skills in a real or simulated clinical setting.
The UTEP DPT Program is the only program in the United States that integrates Spanish training across its curriculum. Students participate in many Spanish language learning activities designed to enhance communication between physical therapists and their Spanish-speaking patients. These activities include taking a Spanish Medical Terminology course and practicing their Spanish with community members during service-learning and clinical education.
For the study, physical therapist evaluators will watch videos of DPT students completing a physical therapy examination and intervention in Spanish with a Spanish-speaking simulated patient. They will rate the students’ Spanish proficiency using the PT-SPM tool. Researchers will analyze the data to determine if the ratings by the different evaluators are all consistent.
“If the reliability is established, the PT-SPM will be the first valid and reliable tool that can be used by academic and clinical educators to assess physical therapist students’ clinically-relevant Spanish proficiency with Spanish-speaking patients,” Pechak said.
The PT-SPM tool also has the potential to be adapted for use by other health professions.
The APTA is a professional organization representing more than 100,000 member physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and students of physical therapy. The HPA Section is a specialty component of the APTA.
The mission of the HPA Section is to transform the culture of physical therapy through initiatives that enhance professionalism, leadership, management and advocacy to foster excellence in autonomous practice for the benefit of members and society.