Ethics teaching in rehabilitation: results of a pan-Canadian workshop with occupational and physical therapy educators.

Ethical practice is an essential competency for occupational and physical therapists. However, rehabilitation educators have few points of reference for choosing appropriate pedagogical and evaluation methods related to ethics. The objectives of this study were to: (1) identify priority content to cover in ethics teaching in occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT) programmes and (2) explore useful and innovative teaching and evaluation methods. Data for this qualitative descriptive study were collected during a 1-d knowledge exchange workshop focused on ethics teaching in rehabilitation. Twenty-three educators from 11 OT and 11 PT Canadian programmes participated in the workshop. They highlighted the importance of teaching foundational theoretical/philosophical approaches and grounding this teaching in concrete examples drawn from rehabilitation practice. A wide range of teaching methods was identified, such as videos, blogs, game-based simulations and role-play. For evaluation, participants used written assignments, exams, objective structured clinical examinations and reflective journals. The inclusion of opportunities for student self-evaluation was viewed as important.

The CREW Day provided ethics educators the opportunity to share knowledge and begin creating a community of practice. This space for dialogue could be expanded to international rehabilitation ethics educators, to facilitate a broader network for sharing of tacit and experiential knowledge. Implications for Rehabilitation According to the study participants, rehabilitation ethics education should include learning about foundational knowledge related to ethical theory; be grounded in examples and cases drawn from clinical rehabilitation practice; and contribute to building professional competencies such as self-knowledge and critical thinking in students. Regardless of the methods used by occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT) educators for teaching and evaluation, the value of creating spaces that support open discussion for students (e.g. protected discussion time in class, peer-discussions with the help of a facilitator, use of a web discussion forum) was consistently identified as an important facet. Educators from OT and PT programmes should work with various professionals involved in OT and PT student training across the curricula (e.g. clinical preceptors, other educators) to extend discussions of how ethics can be better integrated into the curriculum outside of sessions specifically focused on ethics.

The CREW Day workshop was the first opportunity for Canadian rehabilitation ethics educators to meet and discuss their approaches to teaching and evaluating ethics for OT and PT students. Including international rehabilitation ethics educators in this dialogue could positively expand on this initial dialogue by facilitating the sharing of tacit and experiential knowledge amongst a larger and more diverse group of ethics educators.

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