Talking Tech and Mac with Dr. Patty Solomon

This is the 2nd part of my interview with Patty. In this section we talk tech in rehab and what the Mac PT program is all about.

Dr. Patty Solomon is the Associate Dean of Health Sciences and Director of the School of Rehabilitation Science. Patty is also the past Assistant Dean of the Physiotherapy Program. She is interested in educational research and development and has published and consulted extensively in the areas of problem-based learning, educational innovation, interprofessional education and curriculum design. Patty's area of research is in HIV, disability and rehabilitation, and educational innovation as it relates to problem-based learning and interprofessional education.

Technology & Innovation

What role do you believe technology can play in rehab for both practitioners and patients?

I think it's huge and it feels like it's just the beginning. In the next 5 years, it will help transform all areas of rehab including:
  • Distant and remote practice
  • Communication with patients, such as sending reminders and tracking performance
  • Using outcome measures and having clinically meaningful data
  • Collaborating with other practitioners

healthSwapp has an open forum as a space for healthcare practitioners to collaborate and discuss professional issues. Do you think this could be of value?

This is a really interesting concept. I think it absolutely could work and I think it would be fabulous to be able to share our resources with colleagues who don't have access to the same resources and expertise that we do. To be able to have a world network of practitioners would be very valuable. With that, however, there is always the caution of who is sharing what information to ensure that the content is evidence-based and that people have the skills to evaluate the information that's available.

McMaster & Problem Based Learning

McMaster University has a unique medical and rehabilitation program based around the Problem Based Learning (PBL) model.

How does this method of learning help prepare students for a career as a physiotherapist?

I should ask you that question! (I received my Masters in Physiotherapy from McMaster University).

We really strive to build students confidence in self-directed learning. It is critical that students understand how to access information on their own, as well as how to define what kind of information they're looking for. If you can't ask the right questions, you won't find the right information and you won't get the right answers.

When we started doing PBL we didn't have all the technology and resources that we have now. So I think that it's even more important now to be able to ask the right questions and access the information efficiently and effectively and to find reliable information.

Integrated with the PBL method is how to evaluate the resources and how to be an evidence-based practitioner. Equally as important is learning how to work in a small group, how to be a team player and how to give constructive feedback to yourself and to others.

In summary, PBL helps develop many critical skills that all healthcare practitioners should possess:

  • Ask questions
  • Problem solve
  • Be self directed
  • Be evidence based
  • Apply information
  • Integrate learning
  • Have interpersonal group skills

Do you believe this form of learning helps foster creativity and innovation?

I'm biased, but of course I do. It doesn't put you in a box. . You're not always relying on the wise old faculty member to tell you what's right or what to do. There is independence in learning with PBL that encourages you to stretch yourself. This encourages creativity and innovation.