What are the Anatomy Essentials for Physical Therapists? New Survey Yields Surprising Results

By Sheryll Poe | August 16, 2022

While there have been studies to determine essential anatomy content in many healthcare professions, no study has been undertaken in physical therapist education. Until now.

AAA member Michael A. Pascoe, associate professor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, has published a survey of faculty, recent graduates and clinical instructors of a doctor of physical therapy program to find out what anatomical concepts are considered essential in physical therapist education. “This investigation demonstrates how anatomy educators can systematically assess the essential nature of their course learning objectives,” Pasco said. “This is critically important during these times of ‘curricular shrinkage’ of contact hours dedicated to anatomy.”

Pascoe found that of the 46 learning objectives presented, 10 were most frequently rated essential, 20 as useful but not essential, and 16 as not necessary. “Some of the learning objectives I was teaching for years only received an ‘essential for PT practice’ rating from 3 – 4 out of 147 survey respondents,” Pascoe said. “Such as: ‘Name the three umbilical folds,’ ‘Explain the importance of the pectinate line of the anus,’ ‘Summarize development of the breast (childhood to maturity)’ – I was way off!” 

Read: “An Assessment of Essential Anatomy Course Content in an Entry-Level Doctor of Physical Therapy Program” in Medical Science Educator.

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