Role of conceptual models in a physical therapy curriculum: application of an integrated model of theory, research, and clinical practice

Physiother Theory Pract. 2006 Nov;22(5):239-50. doi: 10.1080/09593980600927765.


The Department of Physical Therapy, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, recently implemented a Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) entry-level degree program. As part of the curriculum design, two models were developed, a Model of Best Practice and the Clinical Decision-Making Model. Both models incorporate four key concepts of the new curriculum: 1) the concept that theory, research, and clinical practice are interdependent and inform each other; 2) the importance of client-centered practice; 3) the terminology and philosophical framework of the World Health Organization's International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health; and 4) the importance of evidence-based practice. In this article the general purposes of models for learning are described; the two models developed for the MPT program are described; and examples of their use with curriculum design and teaching are provided. Our experiences with both the development and use of models of practice have been positive. The models have provided both faculty and students with a simple, systematic structured framework to organize teaching and learning in the MPT program.

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research
  • Curriculum*
  • Decision Making
  • Humans
  • Models, Educational*
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Physical Therapy Specialty / education*
  • Physical Therapy Specialty / organization & administration*
  • Systems Integration*