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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 33  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 30-31

Physiotherapy clinical placement during the COVID-19 pandemic

Department of Physiotherapy, University of West Attica, Aigaleo, Greece

Date of Submission15-Mar-2020
Date of Decision30-May-2020
Date of Acceptance18-May-2020
Date of Web Publication25-Aug-2020

Correspondence Address:
Eleftherios Paraskevopoulos
Agiou Spiridonos 28, Athens 12243
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/efh.EfH_175_20

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How to cite this article:
Paraskevopoulos E, Papandreou M. Physiotherapy clinical placement during the COVID-19 pandemic. Educ Health 2020;33:30-1

How to cite this URL:
Paraskevopoulos E, Papandreou M. Physiotherapy clinical placement during the COVID-19 pandemic. Educ Health [serial online] 2020 [cited 2023 Jan 29];33:30-1. Available from:

Dear Editor,

The ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic led governments around the world to progressively impose social distancing measures such as closures of workplaces, schools, and universities; cancellations of mass gatherings; and the quarantine of areas that were affected, to a large extent, by the virus. Mass closure of universities, including physiotherapy schools, was one of the necessary measures that aimed to slow down the spread of the virus. In most countries, physiotherapy schools and departments from several universities moved their courses online. This was only feasible for theoretical courses and some workshops. However, this was impossible for clinical placements. University staff are still considering how to address this issue as a shortfall of clinical placement opportunities is expected.

The effects of clinical placement suspensions are more serious for students who are in the process of sitting for their final exams. This situation may affect their future opportunities to provide their services to the national health-care system. Furthermore, because it is impossible to predict the duration of the pandemic, students may also be affected financially. For this reason, an alternative method of clinical education delivery is proposed through an online platform.

As recently suggested for medical students,[1] a number of case studies that simulate a clinical scenario may be provided on a week-by-week basis by covering all major areas of the module's content. Ideally, in these case studies, patient videos may be provided by the clinical educator in order to promote students' digital exposure to the clinical learning environment. Videos from patients have been successfully used in the past for teaching medical students.[2],[3] Clinical educators may initially provide students with all the subjective and objective findings from the physiotherapy assessment and discuss with each individual student the possible treatment plan, based on therapeutic guidelines and treatment pathways. This can also be done via asynchronous interactive webinar which simulates teaching in a clinical environment.

The aforementioned proposed teaching method is not new in the undergraduate health-care courses and has shown promising results in terms of teaching efficiency when compared with traditional teaching methods.[4] In fact, a recent systematic review[4] based on 59 studies that included 6750 students from health-care courses, such as medicine, dentistry, nursing, physiotherapy, and pharmacy, support the argument of equal teaching efficiency of online distance learning methods with regard to the knowledge and skills gained. Interestingly, 12 studies found significantly higher gains with the online learning methods. Furthermore, student satisfaction from the online teaching methods was equal, and in some cases higher, when compared with traditional methods.[4]

It is undoubtedly accepted that clinical education of physiotherapy students with the traditional methods promotes exposure of students to real-life scenarios and aids future clinicians to develop essential skills. However, it is important for academics at this stage of the pandemic, to identify possible solutions for physiotherapy students that will allow them to continue with their studies without putting at risk patients and staff in hospital settings. In addition, because the duration of the pandemic is still unknown, staff shortages in hospitals may be an unfortunate result of the pandemic, and it will be crucial for newly qualified clinicians to be engaged as part of the workforce in hospitals.[5] Thus, flexible measures should be adopted and all universities should be nimble in their response.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Sam AH, Millar KR, Lupton MG. Digital clinical placement for medical students in response to COVID-19. Acad Med 2020;24:10. [doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000003431].  Back to cited text no. 1
Adams EC, Rodgers CJ, Harrington R, Young MD, Sieber VK. How we created virtual patient cases for primary care-based learning. Med Teach 2011;33:273-8.  Back to cited text no. 2
Roland D, Balslev T. Use of patient video cases in medical education. Arch Dis Child Educ Pract Ed 2015;100:210-4.  Back to cited text no. 3
George PP, Papachristou N, Belisario JM, Wang W, Wark PA, Cotic Z, et al. Online eLearning for undergraduates in health professions: A systematic review of the impact on knowledge, skills, attitudes and satisfaction. J Glob Health 2014;4:010406.  Back to cited text no. 4
Rose S. Medical Student Education in the Time of COVID-19. JAMA [journal on the Internet]. 2020 March 31 [cited 2020 May 15]. doi: 10.1001/jama.2020.5227. [Epub ahead of print].  Back to cited text no. 5


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