CSM Recap: Entry Level DPT Oncology Curriculum

One of the things I have found disappointing in the DPT curriculum is the lack of oncology physical therapy content. As one in two men & one in three women will develop cancer in their lifetime, the likelihood that a physical therapist will encounter a patient with cancer is very high. Fortunately, Dr. Shana Harrington, PT & Dr. Lisa VanHoose, PT are on a focus group that is developing standards for oncologic physical therapy practices that can be included as part of the entry level DPT curriculum.

Why don’t more DPT students get oncology as a part of the physical therapy (PT) school experience?

Many PT students still believe that they won’t encounter cancer in their practice. With a curriculum that is system-based, it is hard for us to think about these more complex, multi-system disorders & make sure that we integrate them into our curriculum. Therefore, we believe it would be helpful if our curriculum could be redirected to consider what our learners will see after graduation. Therefore, they prepared for the populations that they would encounter.

What was the format of your CSM session? And why did you decide to do that method?

We conducted small focus groups last summer, which allowed us to have a variety of themes at this year’s conference. We identified six domains. With the information we learned from the summer groups, we were able to prepare leads for each section as well as involve students through the use of scribing & technology. Each section was able to engage in thoughtful discussion about what should be taught in entry-level oncology. Participants found this to be highly engaging.

It is also perfectly timed with the current pandemic. There is some data that suggests something they call dual survivors, which is cancer survivors who are also dealing with the long-term effects of COVID. They should be well versed in cancer survivorship because they will have to lay on top of that emerging knowledge of how to take care of patients with long-term COVID syndrome. 

What’s next?

The plan is still in the making, so it could change. However, based on those six domains, we had in the top five categories that were presented at CSM that we would like to further discuss through a Delphi voting process. Using this group and the people who want to volunteer, can we come to a consensus on the topic areas within the domains so that we may then develop our guidelines? Once we have gone through that process, we are currently working on possibly having a CSM session where we present these guidelines next year.

Want to be involved in the Delphi process?  Email Shana at sharring@mailbox.sc.edu

About Dr. Shana Harrington, PT

Shana Harrington PT, PhD is a Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Sports Physical Therapy (SCS) and is Manual Therapy Certified (MTC). She received her Master of Physical Therapy degree in 2000 and a PhD in Human Movement Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2009. She is currently a Clinical Associate Professor in the Program of Physical Therapy at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Harrington’s interests involve the areas of survivorship and patient reported outcome measures in people living with and beyond cancer. Dr. Harrington has received numerous grants related to her research interests, presented nationally and internationally on the topics and has over a variety of published manuscripts related to her interests.

About Dr. Lisa VanHoose, PT

Lisa VanHoose, PT, PhD, MPH is a Clinical Professor in the Physical Therapy Department at Baylor University. Dr. VanHoose received her PhD in Rehabilitation Science and MPH from the University of Kansas Medical Center. She completed fellowships at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute PRIDE Summer Institute, emphasizing Cardiovascular Genetic Epidemiology. Her Bachelor of Science in Health Science and Master of Science in Physical Therapy were completed at the University of Central Arkansas. Dr. VanHoose has practiced oncologic physical therapy since 1996. She is a Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Oncologic Physical Therapy and a past president of the Academy of Oncologic Physical Therapy. As an NIH, PCORI, and industry-funded researcher, Dr. VanHoose investigates socioecological models of cancer-related side effects, emphasizing minority and rural cancer survivorship. She is an Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) Qualified Administrator. She is a Certified Patient Navigator after training at the Harold P. Freeman Patient Navigation Institute. Dr. VanHoose serves on the Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. She has been an advocate for the movement of all persons, including the elimination of social policies and practices that are barriers to movement-friendly environments.

Follow Lisa on Twitter @LisaVanHoosePT

Want more CSM 2022? Listen to Ep. 167 for 5 unique perspectives on PT’s return to in-person conferences.

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