Most physical therapists consider themselves life long learners. Since CPA Divisions are in the business of supporting professional development, there is quite a lot of interest in supporting life long learning.
I routinely find myself thirsty for new knowledge and skills. As soon as I set out to satisfy this thirst, it becomes clear that the amount of information is overwhelming. Should I take a course or go to a conference? Should I read a blog or an article? Do I need a mentor? The accessibility of information has grown to a point that it has become difficult to navigate.
While sitting around a conference room table at Congress in Victoria, the Pain Science Division (PSD) executive grappled with a framework for supporting professional development in the field of Pain Science. Do we follow in the highly successful footsteps of the Orthopedic and Sport Divisions? These successful programs have an established step-by-step learning path. We struggled with envisioning how this could work for pain since the practice areas in pain are so diverse that a course-based system seemed untenable. There was also quite a bit of professional development opportunities out there, perhaps we should focus on compiling this information, rather than creating something new.
After much debate, we decided to develop a professional development tool that organized the vast amount of information available into something more user- friendly and could be 100% individualized.
Sounds good, right? We quickly realized this would be a monumental task!
We were fortunate to take advantage of a lot of great work being done in the field of pain education. The International Association for the Study of Pain developed a set of learning objectives for physical therapists who help sufferers of pain to better manage their pain. This gave us a blueprint to develop a ‘professional development curriculum in pain’. The blueprint was vetted by PSD executive and gaps filled with additional learning objectives.
Armed with a set of learning objectives, we needed to start compiling resources and organizing them according to each learning objective. We identified key articles, reputable blogs, online and face-to-face courses, certificate programs and other resources. Of course, this list is not fully comprehensive, but it is a great start!
Now that we had learning objectives, linked to learning resources, we created a website that facilitated self-reflection: Physical therapists could review each learning objective and decide if they felt they needed to learn more about the topic. If a learning gap was identified, the tool would then direct the learner to a number of resources. These resources range from easily accessible and free to intensive online certificate programs to a mentorship program. (Hat tip to Veronica Wong who lead this process.)
Here is an example:
The self-reflection/evaluation tool will display several learning objectives:
I can describe, assess and/or measure the biological, psychological, and social factors that contribute to pain, physical dysfunction and disability using valid and reliable measurement tools
If this is something one needs to improve upon, the tool will direct you to resources such as:
- Articles for Eggheads: Lee H, Hübscher M, Moseley GL, Kamper SJ, Traeger AC, Mansell G, et al. How does pain lead to disability? A systematic review and meta-analysis of mediation studies in people with back and neck pain. Pain. 2015 Jun;156(6):988–97
- Online courses, videos or webinars: Comprehensive Pain Assessment for Clinicians – free youtube videos (part 1-1 to part 6-2) by Dave Walton
- (Many other resources are suggested)
The next time my thirst for new pain knowledge and skills needs quenching, I know to go to the PSD professional development reflection tool and follow these 2 steps: (1) determine my learning needs; and (2) look through the recommended learning opportunities compiled by the PSD.
The PSD is really proud of the hard work that went into developing the tool and we hope you find it useful.
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