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How to be an Effective Acute Care PT: Demystifying Our Role

presented by Joe Adler

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Chart review! Lab values! Past medical history! Lines and catheters! Sick patients! Vital signs! Demanding social workers! Complicated outcome measures! How do we make sense of so many competing issues to deliver efficient, effective, and excellent care for patients in a constantly and dynamically changing environment?

Using the Patient/Client Management Model from the APTA’s Guide to Physical Therapist Practice as a framework, this course will provide straightforward instruction, including lecture, demonstration, and clinician interviews, on how to safely, effectively, and efficiently examine, evaluate, treat, and appropriately discharge patients in the acute care environment.

Meet Your Instructor

  • Joe Adler, PT, DPT, CCS

    Joe Adler graduated in 1993 with an MS PT from Arcadia University (then Beaver College) in Glenside, Pennsylvania, and earned a transitional DPT degree from Arcadia University in 2011. He has been working at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia since graduation. He spent the first three years testing the waters of outpatient and inpatient acute rehab but found his passion in acute care in 1996 and has never looked back. Joe has more than 20 years of acute care experience. He specialized in the areas of trauma and orthopedics until 2006, when he transitioned into the area of cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapy, including transplant and critical care. In 2006, he received the APTA Board Certified Clinical Specialization in Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Physical Therapy (CCS) and was re-certified in 2016. Since 2009, he has worked in critical care in a cardiovascular and pulmonary surgical ICU. As his career has progressed, he has taken a special interest in student education, taking on the role of center coordinator of clinical education (CCCE) from 2004-2016 and that of coordinator of our health system’s Acute Care Internship since 2007. His commitment to student/new employee education and mentorship has been complemented by his affiliation as an adjunct faculty member at Arcadia University since 1998, teaching in the content areas of cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapy and acute care. In 2013, he was appointed Program Chair for the Section on Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Physical Therapy of the APTA, responsible for educational programming at their annual Combined Sections Meeting. In 2015, he was honored to receive the Mary Sinnott Clinical Excellence in Acute Care award from the APTA’s Academy of Acute Care. Most recently, Joe was honored to have been awarded Arcadia University's Adjunct Faculty Award for Distinguished Teaching 2018.

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

Download Learning Objectives
  1. Introduction

    1. Introduction

    The instructor will review the role of the acute care physical therapist and give examples of the many challenging issues that must be integrated during an episode of care (e.g., lab values, catheter attachments, and patient response to activity/exercise).

  2. Patient Management Model Examination

    2. Patient Management Model Examination

    Performing an initial examination on a hospitalized patient can be intimidating, especially if there are procedures, tests, or diagnoses you are unfamiliar with. This chapter provides a stepwise approach to form a safe foundation on which to proceed. Examination must include: patient history, review of systems, and tests and measures (data collection).

  3. Evaluation, Diagnosis, and Prognosis

    3. Evaluation, Diagnosis, and Prognosis

    You have just examined your patient and collected considerable data such as muscle strength, blood pressure, distance walked, and a timed value for the “Timed Up and Go” outcome measure. What does it all mean? How do the parts fit together, and with whom should I discuss my assessment? Integrated within your evaluation is a process of defining a PT diagnosis, which is the primary limiting factor(s) to achieving independent or pre-hospital mobility, as well as making a functional prognosis for length of hospital stay and, frequently, for levels of care beyond the hospital.

  4. Intervention

    4. Intervention

    After examination and evaluation, you have concluded that your patient requires hospital-based physical therapy intervention. Considering the principles of frequency, mode, and intensity, you create a plan of care. Where there is evidence-based-literature to support interventions and outcomes, you use it.

  5. Discharge Planning

    5. Discharge Planning

    You have examined, evaluated, treated, and spoken to the right people about your findings and recommendations. Now it is time to discharge your patient from the current episode of care.