New alignment of academic rehabilitation programmes in Ukraine with international standards

Aligning academic programmes in Ukraine with international standards is a crucial part of ensuring optimal rehabilitation for the increasing number of people affected by war-related injuries in the country. The International Rehabilitation Education and Training Toolkit (IRETT) has been pivotal in facilitating collaborative training sessions for this purpose.

In recent years, the need for highly qualified rehabilitation professionals in Ukraine has increased dramatically due to the large number of war-related injuries. Strengthening university programmes in line with international standards is a vital step towards ensuring quality education of rehabilitation professionals and therefore optimising physical rehabilitation outcomes.

Through the USAID-funded activity Learning, Acting and Building for Rehabilitation in Health Systems (ReLAB-HS) and Strengthening Rehabilitation Services in the Health Systems (SRSHS) an international collaboration to strengthen academic programmes has taken place over the last 2 years in Ukraine. There have been 2 in-person meetings in Poland supported by 50 online workshops to implement the Academic Program Reflection Tool (APRT) of the IRETT. The APRT is a practical guide to support the development and review of academic programmes for the rehabilitation professions. It uses a reflective review process to identify opportunities to create meaningful change to strengthen academic programmes taking into consideration both local and international standards.

In-person workshops on Leadership for Rehabilitation Education and Workforce Development for Ukraine were held both in 2022  and 2023 in Poland with close collaboration from representatives of the Ukrainian Catholic University, the National University of Ukraine on Physical Education and Sport, the Lviv State University of Physical Culture, the Khortytsia Rehabilitation Academy. The IRETT was used to support each university in developing and sharing an initial roadmap for their programme. Participants also shared that they are using translated Physiopedia Plus (Plus) courses to augment teaching in university courses, allowing teachers to use class time for educational strategies that emphasise application of learning, which leads to better student retention. 

Supporting webinars for university teachers have trained more than 100 educators from over 30 Ukrainian Institutions of Higher Educations about international standards for physical and occupational therapy and how they can be used to guide teaching for Master’s level courses. The webinars were facilitated by international experts Dr Larisa Hoffman (Physical Therapist, Professor at Regis University USA) and Dr Angela Patterson (Occupational Therapist, Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Creighton University), with support of simultaneous interpretation. These webinars raised awareness of international standards and guided on how to progressively implement international experience in student education.

Almost two years of close and systematic cooperation with foreign experts, allowed us to analyze the educational program for masters in physical therapy step by step and improve knowledge of modern approaches to using APRT of the IRETT with universities. This cooperation gave a significant stimulus to the improvement of the educational program, motivation to develop for the teachers involved in the cooperation, and to continue the development of the specialty at the university. Ivan Bobersky Lviv State Physical Culture University is sincerely grateful for the trust of Physiopedia and its involvement in the project. We look forward to continuing our cooperation and are ready to share our knowledge with colleagues from other higher education institutions. – participants of the Ivan Bobersky Lviv State Physical Culture University

As a result of these sessions, during 2022 to 2024, the Physical Therapy Master’s programmes of four universities were strengthened to international standards in cooperation with the university representatives. With new action plans for strengthened Masters programmes the four universities are now working locally to implement changes in their institutions in alignment with their local requirements. They have all now moved on to strengthening additional programmes, including the Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy programmes at the Masters, Bachelors and PhD levels. 

I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the opportunity to participate in the International Project “Strengthening Rehabilitation Services in the Healthcare System”, which provided boundless opportunities for further growth and improvement of the education of Master’s Degree students in Physical Therapy. Khortytsia National Academy is focused on the development of innovative approaches to education that help to improve the results and efficiency of providing educational services to students. We believe that our participation in this project plays a key role in providing affordable and high-quality education in physical therapy and contributes to the formation of highly qualified specialists. We are sincerely grateful to the project organizers, colleagues, and international experts for the opportunity to develop and improve. – Tetiana Odynets, Head of the Department of the Khortytsia National Educational and Rehabilitational Academy 

Many academic institutions in Ukraine are integrating Plus online courses into their curricula to complement existing teaching strategies, fill gaps in teaching capacity, supplement educational activities and for self-study by bachelor and master level higher education students. Physiopedia has provided organisations in Ukraine with free access to the Plus online learning and professional development platform which contains more than 700 online courses for rehabilitation professionals. Approximately 300 courses have been translated into Ukrainian to date.

This activity is organised by Physiopedia as part of the “Strengthening Rehabilitation Services in the Health Systems” (SRSHS) activity, implemented by the Momentum Wheels for Humanity, with the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).”

This work is part of the ReLAB-HS activity and is made possible by the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).