A paediatric PT Residency and Training program is a post-professional clinical and didactic educational program, designed to significantly advance a practicing physical therapist’s knowledge, skills in patient or client management, and attitudes across a variety of settings, including: acute care hospital, outpatient, school-based, and early intervention. It provides focused academic and clinical mentoring (according to APTA guidelines).
Please note: school-based therapy is not practiced in Pakistan; there are a few exceptions in specialized private schools.
For the Physical Therapist (PT) to develop a core body of knowledge and best practice in the field of Paediatric Physical Therapy through didactic learning and practical work, so that they can deliver quality care for paediatric patients in a competent manner and also be mindful of delivering responsive care.
The program will aim to develop residents/clinicians who deliver clinical excellence to the best of their abilities (keeping in mind the resource limitations in Pakistan and different levels of basic training obtained in the DPT course/curriculum across schools in Karachi), and contribute to the profession of paediatric physical therapy through leadership, teaching other therapists, consultative and research activities and lifelong learning.
In addition, modification of the practice of Paediatric PT in the socio-cultural context of Pakistani society is another aim of this program.
Read more: Creating new career pathways in child physical therapy
Why paediatric physical therapy?
There is a dearth of formally and appropriately trained paediatric physical therapists in Pakistan. The DPTs (Physical Therapist formally trained at various schools of physiotherapy in Pakistan) have minimal exposure (1-3 months) of handling children.
These are the reasons why Paediatric therapists need formal training:
1. Children cannot be treated as mini adults.
2. Treatment techniques/approaches differ greatly/vastly between adults and children.
3. The physical therapy environment in which children are/should be treated is vastly different from that in which adults are treated.
4. The developing anatomy, physiology and the brain in this unique population, require specialized knowledge base and therapeutic/handling techniques; hence the need to sub-specialize.
Paediatric Physical Therapy is a sub-specialty of Physical Therapy, and is in dire need of development. Thousands of children with disabilities and their families are receiving sub-optimal or no treatment because of absence of formally trained paediatric therapists.
This is an intense one-year didactic and practical coursework, which is divided into four modules.
- Module one is the chest and cardio-thoracic Physical Therapy
- Module two is neurological Physical Therapy
- Module three is musculoskeletal PT
- Module four is special topics in paediatric population.
Details of the four modules and what is taught in them can be found in the course outline and lectures. There will be practical training under the supervision of a senior therapist (also termed master trainer) in the general paediatric ward as well as in the step-down units of the paediatric department.
Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) training will be undertaken, but will depend on the student’s interest and their capability and potential in handling complicated, high risk babies/children. The students will also rotate through outpatient clinics every month; this will challenge the student to switch quickly from one patient case to a completely different one, for example from a neurological case to an orthopedic one.
Presentations on a case or patient in the ward will be expected from the students during rounds. In addition, graded presentations by students on chosen topics of interest, will be part of the didactic course.
Two senior master trainers Sawiz and Omema are responsible for the residents or interns. They will also fulfill administrative duties for this course. The trainees will be given homework to complete during lectures.
The didactic course/lecture will occur for a minimum of two hours every week; extra time allocation for lectures will be organized if the need arises. Ward practical work will be 8 hours, 5 times a week. There is no weekend coverage as yet.
Guest speakers from other specialties (radiology, cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery, Intensive Care Unit and genetics) will also teach in this course. Their lectures will be scheduled at the convenience of the speaker, since these are voluntary contributions.
Students will participate in an out-reach program in the community. The ethos of this program is to propagate quality paediatric therapy, which should benefit all children; hence master trainers and students of this program will participate in such endeavors and train parents and other therapists in the community in order to empower them. This is part of the parent empowerment program, which is the modus operandi in our outpatient clinics.
We believe this is an important economical model of delivery in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The parents take on the responsibility together with the therapist in their child’s care. This is the main ethos of our program, for only with parental involvement can we achieve success in helping the child reach their potential.
This enables the therapist to utilize their time more effectively towards advanced clinical decision-making and teaching in paediatric therapy, and addresses the shortage of trained paediatric therapists in Pakistan. One of the major aims of this program is to leave a legacy for paediatric therapy in Pakistan, and train not just the trainer, but other therapists in the rural Sindh and villages of Pakistan.
In addition, the students will also attend an orthotic clinic once a week in an outpatient setting. If the candidate does not fulfill the above practical requirement by the time the graduation ceremony is held, they will not be eligible for a certificate.
Under no circumstances will a certificate be awarded if the above-mentioned hours of practical training are not completed. This includes community service; if it is organized for that particular batch of students.