Pg. 2 Department & School News

This fall, the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences PhD program admitted its second cohort of students. We currently have 10 students in the program including one with an IU physical therapy degree. Other disciplines represented include biostatistics, occupational therapy, exercise science, health sciences public policy, nutrition and public health. All students have master’s degrees, although this is not a requirement for admission to the program. The School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences recently held two open informational sessions here on campus about the PhD, both were successful with more planned in the future. For additional information about the sessions or the program itself, please contact Joyce Mac Kinnon, EdD, PT at or 317-274-1029. SHRS PhD i n He a l t h and Rehab i l i t a t i on S c i enc e s By Joyce Mac Kinnon, EdD, PT

Faculty & Students Collaborate on Direct Access Research

By Amy Bayliss, DPT, PT

Prior to her graduation in May 2009, Dr. Bethany Holder, DPT collaborated with faculty member, Dr. Amy Bayliss on a pilot study titled “Outlooks and Opinions of Practic- ing Physical Therapists on Direct Access in Indiana.” She presented her initial findings at the Indiana APTA confer- ence in October 2008 and at the 2009 Combined Sections Meeting. The strong themes that emerged from the pilot study were compelling enough to warrant further investi- gation with the purpose to help continued state legislative efforts. Therefore a larger inquiry was initiated in spring 2009, which was jointly funded by the INAPTA and Indiana University. The full study required a time inten- sive effort – survey mailings to 3,350 physical therapists in the state. Luckily, there were many willing volunteers (students and faculty) who spent up to 40 hours each to complete the process of mailing out the surveys. Professor Valerie Strunk and students Erica White, Heather Smith, Kristin Dreibelbis, James Heighway, Toni Robinson and Renee Schlabach joined the research team at this stage. The purpose was to investigate the opinions of licensed physical therapists residing in Indiana on the following issues: 1. Direct access 2. Scope of care 3. Perceived impact of direct access on liability 4. Manipulation practices The findings were quite interesting and suggested that a strong majority of survey respondents believe that a physical therapist’s professional liability would change with direct access. The written comments were the most compelling and further supported the erroneous assump- tion that physical therapists are protected from any li-

ability claims while practicing “under the physician’s umbrella.” These assumptions are dangerous as they are based largely in error. In actuality, an individual PT may be found guilty of medi-

cal malpractice or negligence at any time if the certain ele- ments are all found to be true – specifically when breaches in applicable standard of care are made. Even today as practicing physical therapists in one of only two states without direct access, we already have a legal and ethical duty to differentially diagnose our patients, referring them to alternate medical professionals when their medical is- sues are beyond our scope of practice. Future avenues for dissemination of Bethany’s work will be at the 2010 Combined Sections Meeting in San Diego, CA as well as a potential manuscript expanding on the results of the full study. The ultimate goal of this research is to contribute positively to legislative efforts to gain direct access for physical therapists in Indiana. Dr. Holder com- mented that “the overwhelming response we received from this survey shows physical therapists practicing in Indiana have a voice and we hope the results of this survey can translate into positive legislative changes.” Dr. Holder is currently in a Sports Physical Therapy resi- dency with ProRehab in Evansville, Indiana. In addition to working long hours in her residency, she is serving on the legislative committee for the INAPTA.

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