Since 1959, the education of healthcare practitioners has been a pillar of TIRR Memorial Hermann’s success in advancing the field of rehabilitation medicine at the local, regional and national levels. Last year, in recognition of its 55-year legacy of training physical therapists, speech language pathologists, occupational therapists and nurses, the rehabilitation hospital formalized its educational vision and mission as the TIRR Memorial Hermann Education Academy.
“As educators, we’re focused on turning knowledge gained from research into practice as quickly as possible,” says Lisa Thomas, CNS, RN, CRRN, APRN, director of clinical education. “With the number of research studies under way here and the size of our patient population we have the opportunity to contribute new best practices to our discipline. When we adopt a new practice, we immediately consider how we’ll share it with therapists and nurses across the Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Network and at other facilities.”
In 2013, TIRR Memorial Hermann was accredited as a continuing competency provider for education by three organizations – the Texas Physical Therapy Association, American Occupational Therapy Association and American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. With the accreditation, Memorial Hermann became the first healthcare system in Texas to be awarded a physical therapy provider designation and the first healthcare system in the country to be awarded provider designation in all three disciplines.
“Our therapists are well known for their knowledge and skill and for their ability to teach others,” says Patricia Tully, OTR, ATP, education resource specialist. “In health care learning never stops. We recognize that, and give our students meaningful experiences that we hope will spark the desire to find ways to improve clinical care and continue their learning.”
Hundreds of observers, student interns and residents come to TIRR Memorial Hermann for training each year. The hospital hosts five undergraduate programs, with 50 to 70 nursing students completing clinical rotations each semester. In 2014, physical therapists hosted 32 full-time student interns, as well as 24 part-time entry-level students. By the end of the calendar year, more than 100 observers had spent structured time with educational teams. The hospital provides internship opportunities to more than 80 students from 70 colleges and universities in 35 states, and from several countries, including France, The Netherlands and Singapore.
2015 marks the fifth anniversary of the institution’s post-professional Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency Program, begun with two residents in collaboration with Texas Woman’s University and The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. One of the first credentialed neurologic physical therapy programs in the country, it remains one of the few offering a full range of clinical and didactic experiences across the lifespan and continuum of care, from acute care to community reintegration. To date, nine residents have graduated and all who have taken their certification test have passed.
“The program was established to develop expert clinicians who are compassionate and skilled at using leading-edge interventions to achieve the best clinical outcomes in patients with neurologic diagnoses,” says former program director* Anna de Joya, PT, D.Sc., NCS. “In five years we’ve grown exponentially in the number of applications we’ve received from new graduates and experienced clinicians.”
Few institutions offer combined opportunities for clinical experience, research and teaching. “We have the expertise to provide experience in one of these areas or all of them,” says Mary Ann Euliarte, RN, CRRN, CNO/COO at TIRR Memorial Hermann and chief rehabilitation nurse for the Memorial Hermann Health System. “It benefits not only those who come to us for training but our own staff as they grow and advance themselves in each of these areas. When you teach, you have a responsibility to stay current and involved. Teaching challenges us to elevate ourselves and provides opportunities for networking and collaborating internally and externally. The more we learn, the more questions we generate for our researchers. All this creates a healthy environment that ultimately benefits our patients.”
* In 2015, certified clinical instructor Laura Martin, PT, NCS, former center coordinator for clinical education at TIRR Memorial Hermann Outpatient Rehabilitation at the Kirby Glen Center, will transition into the role of director of the Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency Program.